There is a model for cloud computing called softare as a service, or SAAS. Such software exists and runs “in the cloud” and provides functionality to its users upon request. The students in Dr. Howard’s Software Engineering course (CS 440) take a slightly different approach to software as a service: they create software that directly helps people and organizations perform their vitally important work.
This year, three software projects were developed by the students in CS 440.
- An application for Heart Haven Outreach to help staff there assess their strengths.
- A tool for Lewis’ College of Nursing and Health Professions to track student progress through their program of study.
- A quiz system that will be used as part of a research project being conducted by Dr. Bill Chura in Biology.
The project for Heart Haven Outreach, or H2O, is particularly interesting, because it demonstrates how effective university-community partnerships can be. The students who developed that project were Andrew Hiter, Eric Raber, Chris Pelech, Dennis Stachura, Tom Tibble, and Ian Ziarko. Working closely with a representive from H2O, the students developed a tool that would enable H2O administrators to survey their employees to identify their strengths and weaknesses and then plot them on a graph. The students developed from scratch an innovative and intuitive pie-style graph that clearly identified areas of strength and aspects that require improvement. H2O, the customer, was extremely impressed. Just as important, it was a fantastic learning experience for the students. Chris Pelech remarked, “As a team, not only did we use skills we learned in our core classes, such as object-oriented programming, but we also used skills earned in elective classes such as Computer Graphics, Encryption, Databases, and math classes like Linear Algebra.” It is a fantastic thing when students are able to take what they’ve learned in multiple classes and tie them together in pursuit of a shared goal. That reinforces their learning.
The Department is proud of its students and their accomplishments. Team projects like these emphasize the inherent value of software as a service in the traditional sense and underscore the importance of Computer Science as a discipline that, at its core, helps people.