Canadian Consulting Engineer

Software design moves into engineers’ arena

In June, the umbrella organization of licensed engineers in Canada accredited software engineering programs for the...

September 7, 2001   Canadian Consulting Engineer

In June, the umbrella organization of licensed engineers in Canada accredited software engineering programs for the first time. Three Ontario universities had their programs accredited by the Council of Canadian Professional Engineers. They were the University of Ottawa, the University of Western Ontario in London, and McMaster University in Hamilton. At the same time the first students graduated from these programs, and are now the first software engineering students that have the academic qualifications to register as professional engineers in Canada. Until now, only computer engineering programs, which tend to focus on hardware engineering, have been accredited by the professional organization.As computer studies have become an increasingly important – and lucrative – part of university activities, tension has grown over who should have the right and authority to run and accredit the programs. The Council of Canadian Professional Engineers would like more computer programs to come under their umbrella for accreditation, arguing that the rigorous education and training standards required by engineering faculties are necessary for students in both the computer software as well as the hardware design field. Last year a dispute between the Council and Memorial University in Newfoundland nearly ended up in a court battle when the university was advertising a software “engineering” program which was not subject to the professional organization’s accreditation process. “According to CCPE their accreditation of a program not only benefits the students but also can be a useful tool for potential employers: “Accreditation assures IT employers that software engineering graduates possess the problem-solving and technical skills to excel on the job, as well as the academic qualifications to be licensed as professional engineers in Canada. Graduates have also been trained in professional ethics and the obligation of engineers to hold public safety paramount.”McMaster, Ottawa and Western initiated their software engineering programs in the past five years and requested CCPE’s Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board to evaluate them. Between them they graduated 36 students, but it is expected that enrolment numbers will increase significantly in future. Several other Canadian university engineering schools have also initiated software engineering programs.


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