Indian Computer Science (CS) & Information Technology (IT) Academic Reform Activism Consolidated Blog Document


CS & IT Academia: Inform Students About Software Contribution Record of Faculty



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CS & IT Academia: Inform Students About Software Contribution Record of Faculty


Net url: http://eklavyasai.blogspot.com/2011/11/cs-it-academia-inform-students-about.html



Last Updated On 8th Nov. 2011

Some of the proposals I have outlined in previous blog posts may have some implementation challenges, even if the proposals are found interesting by CS & IT academic administrators.

Here is a simple and, IMHO, easily implementable proposal to improve software development skills in CS & IT academia.

AICTE & UGC should make it mandatory for CS & IT departments to put up the software contribution (development) record of each faculty on its website. Now, typically, only the research interests and, possibly, research publication record of the faculty are put up.

The software contribution record could have following information for each software contribution:


  1. Short description of the software including development platform (Operating System, Software tools used etc.)

  2. If the software is free or open source then a download link from where the software & documentation can be downloaded and used/verified by anybody.

  3. If the software is proprietary then a link to the website of the company for which the software was developed where the software details are mentioned. Ideally that page should have a credits menu/link which should list the faculty as a contributor.

  4. Role faculty played - Architect, Requirements Analyst, Designer, Developer, Tester etc.

  5. Duration of involvement of faculty with the software development.

Besides such individual faculty software contribution record, a consolidated department software contribution record should also be put on the website.

Such information would allow students, parents and employers to get some idea of the software development skills of the faculty & department besides the research skills.

If a CS / IT department has only research publication record with very limited or no software contribution record then students, parents and employers who are interested in software development skill set can make an informed choice to not study in/recruit from that department. Instead students, parents and employers who are interested in research can make an informed choice to study in/recruit from that department.

Okay, but how will this proposal improve software development skills in CS & IT academia? Well, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of students, parents & employers are interested in software development skills. So CS & IT departments which have zero or limited software contribution record will, over time, lose out to CS & IT departments which have a good software contribution record. That will motivate CS & IT academia to improve its software development skills.

6 comments:

Unknown, November 6, 2011 at 2:17 AM

My comments are based on limited experience. I have done my M.Tech in CS from a deemed University, worked for 3 years in a software product development multi-national firm and currently pursuing my PhD in CS in the area of Machine Learning and Computer Vision at Arizona State University.

I think this is a good idea but it will be a while before it sees the light of the day. I say this because:

1) I imagine there will be few people who will root for this. Having a paper publication-record has benefits that are immediate but a software publication-record does not show immediate benefits. In fact, academia may be loathe to sharing its intellectual property with seemingly few benefits.

2) There is, in most cases, little software of quality that comes out of academic institutions. Unlike in the US, Indian academia does not emphasize or pride itself on quality software. Apart from a handful institutions, most colleges/Universities will have little to show in terms of software in comparison with paper publications.

3) Professors perhaps believe they get more from their students publishing papers than if they were to write splendid software.

4) The companies that hire know they can turn a Chemical/Civil Engineer into a IT professional. They care very less about the degree, its just a license to apply for an IT job. The students in turn know they will get the job and can keep it with little effort and they need not have to be really good programmers coming out from college. They can pick it up on the job because the companies don't expect them to know it all.

IMHO, at the root of it all is the incorrect assumption that academic professors can teach IT. It is like a teacher of Biology trying to teach surgery. There may be a lot in common but the differences cannot be bridged either. The solution to this problem may not lie entirely with academia. It rather requires a marriage of academia and the industry. Just like it is mandatory for doctors to practice in rural areas, IT professionals must spend time with academia. The government should enforce such commitments from the software industry.

Please note again, the comments above are my perceptions which have been gathered from having observed how academia works and also from having been associated with the software industry for a while.

Hemanth


Eklavya Sai Maalik, November 7, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Thanks Hemanth for your views.

You wrote, "The companies that hire know they can turn a Chemical/Civil Engineer into a IT professional". IMHO, companies take on the burden of education of freshers because of CS & IT academia's failure to teach them practical skills (design & code) properly. If companies had a choice of freshers who are industry-ready software professionals they will surely opt for them as then they will save the costs of company-paid-education.

You wrote, "The students in turn know they will get the job and can keep it with little effort and they need not have to be really good programmers coming out from college." Do all CS & IT students get a job so easily? Can software professionals in all companies keep their jobs with little effort? Is it so simple? I feel there are plenty of software industry jobs which need very good design & code skills. Further it takes significant effort to create good software.

You wrote, "Just like it is mandatory for doctors to practice in rural areas, IT professionals must spend time with academia. The government should enforce such commitments from the software industry." Force does not work in a democracy. And, thank God for democrcacy. Indian CS & IT Academia which must be receiving significant amount of tax payer money, must make efforts to welcome software industry professionals to teach. Unfortunately AICTE/UGC regulations for recruitment and promotion of teaching staff are such that industry expertise is not given any real importance unless the person has a PhD. So it is very hard for non-PhD industry professionals to consider changing their career from industry to academia. Without a PhD they can join only as an Asst. Professor which is the entry level. A person with significant industry experience would feel odd to be clubbed with entry level teachers. He/she would expect to be appointed as an Assoc. Professor. That needs a PhD. Once again, the academic "PhD club" mindset comes into play.

Eklavya Sai Maalik, November 8, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Based on feedback, changed "software publication record" term in the post to "software contribution record".



Eklavya Sai Maalik, November 8, 2011 at 7:38 PM

An email exchange with a friend on this post is captured here: CS & IT Academia: Profs. May Not Like Idea of Software Contribution Record



Eklavya Sai Maalik, November 8, 2011 at 8:20 PM

An email exchange with another friend on this post is captured here: US CS & IT Academia: Usually TAs/RAs Teach Programming.



Eklavya Sai Maalik, November 8, 2011 at 10:42 PM

An email exchange with yet another friend on this post is captured here: CS & IT Academia: Should 'Customize' Instead of 'Build' be Taught?

Monday, April 7, 2014



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