Upon entering his software engineering (COMP 410) classroom in January 2003, Ryan Aipperspach, junior, never imagined that he and his 12 classmates would gain programming experience in .NET while using the latest technology -- all made possible by Microsoft and IBM Rational.
Donations from Microsoft and IBM Rational enabled us to realize .NET technologies and create a realistic environment for learning cutting-edge software engineering," Instructor Stephen Wong explained. "The instantly marketable .NET skills the students gained are a wonderful side benefit."
Besides funding the purchase of the Hewlett Packard iPAQ's, Microsoft furnished a server, development tools, server software, textbooks, and a reference library for students and professors. IBM Rational provided XDE software through their Software Engineering for Education Development program.
For the class, Wong placed students in a real-world design and development situation and challenged the students to create a distributed shopping mall simulation, complete with interacting customers, products and stores.
"Programming in .NET gave us experience with cutting-edge technologies and made a lot of our low-level programming tasks easier, allowing us to focus on the more fundamental design-level issues that the class was targeting," Aipperspach said. "We also got experience developing applications for mobile devices -- and the fact that the pocket pc's were tangible and expensive resources given to us by an outside source, motivated us to make sure we had something that worked well with them."
With expenses covered by Microsoft, Aipperspach, Bryan Lipinski, James McDougall, and Ali Ongun gave a group presentation about their software development on the opening day of the Microsoft TechEd 2003 Conference held in Dallas in May.
"They gave the only presentation by undergraduates, and it garnered considerable positive feedback from audience members," Wong reported. "A number of people were very impressed with their work, and remarked that our students were the most memorable presenters of the day."
Building upon their classroom experience, Aipperspach, McDougall, and William Price are now developing software for students and teachers to use on Tablet PCs in the classroom. The independent research project is funded by Microsoft.
"The experiences these students have gained would not have been possible without the participation of Microsoft and IBM Rational," said Keith Cooper, computer science chair. "We are delighted they brought these unique educational opportunities to our students."
August 5, 2003