The University Software House

A paper from the STEM Annual Conference 2014.

University computing science departments require a group software engineering project. The group project brings together the diverse parts of student learning. However, this project is often with a staff member ‘acting’ as client. A software house staffed with students who work with live clients could supplement the group project. This aids employability and encourages entrepreneurial approaches amongst students.

This preliminary report for an HEA STEM survey explores what universities are doing in this area, and will enable others to build on previous experience. The main questions to answer now in order to determine operating models and best practice are:

  •  name of the service and how long it has been running?
  •  was it seeded with funding?
  •  why was it started?
  •  is it only open to computing students?
  •  has it displaced any local business?
  •  are the students paid?
  •  how effective is it as a learning environment for students?
  •  what surprises have arisen out of the service?

The conclusion will be suggested steps to follow in setting up a software house, because practical work experience like this should be possible everywhere for all students.

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