UNT Prof To Study Behavior of Student Software Teams

The National Science Foundation has awarded a University of North Texas computer science professor a half-million dollar grant to study the performance and behaviors of student software development work groups, the university announced.

The project, headed by UNT computer science professor Kathleen Swigger, will study how far-flung programmers work on large software projects at UNT and in Turkey, Panama and the United Kingdom.

"Outsourcing is not going to go away," Swigger told the university public affairs office. "There is a growing need to ensure that computer science students are taught the necessary skills to deal with this new type of programming. Students need to know how to use technology to work in culturally mixed and geographically distributed work teams, because distributed software development is becoming the norm."

The $499,252 project will also develop a curriculum to teach students the best ways to work in global software teams, including how to develop software when team members come from different cultures and work in different time zones.

"We'll be closely looking at the interaction between the teams, as well as how much is actually done," Swigger said. "People who are closer together typically interact more and perform better. The UNT team and the team in Panama have about the same time zone difference as the teams in Great Britain and Turkey, so we will be seeing what sort of interaction happens among the teams."

Swigger said Travelocity, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin, which do similar projects at their companies, will act as advisors on the project.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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