News Releases
California State University, Sacramento

Posted: February 15, 2000

New Training Targets Costly Computer Failures

Taking aim at computer failures that have cost business and government millions of dollars, California State University, Sacramento has begun intensive new training for seasoned technology professionals.

The Professional Development Program focuses on strategies for managing groups of software developers, cost and scheduling, quality assurance and related issues. It's designed to help managers avoid snafus such as the $100 million child support system California was forced to abandon in 1997.

It is one of just five such programs established this year in partnership with the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineering Computer Society (IEEE-CS). Others are at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Southern Polytechnic State University in Georgia, the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology, and the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.

Many computer projects have proven difficult to manage because of the large number of possible configurations. They often require hundreds of contractors, technical personnel and managers.

"This will be a tremendous service to this region's technology community," says Basil Sherlund, who directs the new CSUS program.

"I've seen so many failures of software-intensive systems, and there is just absolutely no reason for it," Sherlund says. "The problem is not that the people managing the projects don't have good intentions. They don't have the knowledge, and we can teach them."

Sherlund helped the IEEE-CS create the new program and get it started at all five universities before being hired to direct the training at CSUS. He has worked in software development for a number of companies, including AT&T, General Motors and Chrysler. He also has been involved in developing software standards since the early 1980s.

About 250 professionals from business and government are expected to enroll in the new Professional Development Program this year, with the number growing to more than 1,000 in coming years.

The program was a good fit at CSUS because of the interest of a number of faculty members in developing software engineering standards. In addition, many CSUS graduate students have worked with the IEEE-CS on software engineering standards and other software engineering management issues.

Its establishment is also the latest in a string of accomplishments for the University's College of Engineering and Computer Science. Last fall, the College began offering a master's degree in software engineering, the first public university in the state to do so. That same semester, U.S. News and World Report ranked its engineering program 26th in the nation among those focused on undergraduate education.

More information is available by contacting Sherlund at (916) 452-3340 or, or the CSUS public affairs office at (916) 278-6156.


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