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Projects  » 9 Jul 2015, ESI CEE

SEMP: Software Engineering Management Program

Award of Recognition for CMU.png
Authentic ExaminationTM is part of SEMP now! ESI CEE partners with Proxor to provide first in Europe the new Authentic ExaminationTM for software engineers recruiters and educational institutions. Read more!

On March 21, 2015 ESI CEE received an Award of Recognition of Collaboration in Software Engineering Education by Carnegie Mellon University @ 25th Anniversary of ISR MSE Program, March 21 in Pittsburgh.

Project implemented by: European Software Institute – Center Eastern Europe
In partnership with: Carnegie Mellon University (ISR, SCS, SEI), Sofia University (Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics), Technical University Sofia, New Bulgarian University, American University in Bulgaria, and other leading Bulgarian Universities
Funded by: USAID (Bulgaria) and America for Bulgaria Foundation

The program for the new e-Leaders

Visit the website of the program here

Challenging the IT university education and innovations in Bulgaria
(A Public-Private approach to IT university qualification profiles - Introducing management aspect for software and IT graduates)
[State: as of May 2012]

1. Summary
In the last decade, Bulgaria is positioning more successfully on the world “Information Technologies (IT) challenges” map as a high quality and reliable hub and a regional leader. However, the IT business and all stakeholders emphasize that Bulgaria, like all the Eastern Europe, is experiencing an increasing demand for IT and software development managers who are technically savvy and trained in the best management methods. To meet this demand and development perspectives, the regional Center for Eastern Europe of the European Software Institute (ESI) - ESI Center Eastern Europe (, with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF) launched in 2010 a complete program – challenge to the ICT university education and the industry. The goal of the project SEMP (Software Engineering Management Program) is to provide contemporary content and training courses on software engineering and IT services management, with a special focus on modern training methods and style. The SEMP project is an excellent example of integration and synergy between industrial and academic institution, supporting organization and donors in order to implement innovative training and educational method in Bulgarian universities educating IT graduates. The set of pilot core courses is already under development and implementation in partnership with the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University (SEI-CMU, Pittsburgh, USA - ) – one of the top leaders in computers science and software engineering, and the provider of the IT industry quality standards (Capability Maturity Model Integration, CMMI). The program relies on building local capacity by “train-the-trainer” component – qualification of Bulgarian trainers, lead professors and assistants, under the coaching of SEI-CMU and ESI lecturers.
The successful implementation of the pilot project will establish the basis for introduction of internationally recognized master degree program in partnership with the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, and with the support of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science. In order to make all – students, professors, future employers, government, users and international clients - “speak” the same language – the language of quality. Because quality, in combination to talents, is the main competitive advantages of Bulgarian IT industry.

2. Software Engineering Management Program focus areas

The SEMP content is designed to prepare students to manage within the increasingly technologically enabled world of global business interdependency. The program combines three important elements in software development and IT management:
Enabling technology + Management + Business context
Managers must be well schooled to work in organizations that take on new technologies as they become available; where software and systems are fully integrated and projects are aggressive in cost, schedule and complexity. New technologies allow fresh systems to be envisioned, prototyped and developed. Managers must be able to determine what competencies to build and maintain in-house and what is best outsourced. When outsourcing decisions are made, source selection decisions should be empirically based and disciplined. Contract oversight and project management are too important to be muddled through. Risks must be identified and managed. Business concerns must fold together with regulatory issues, and matters of privacy and security. It is a complex and changing world for the government, non-profit and commercial sectors.
The three respective areas, under which new (transferred from CMU) or updated and augmented local courses are structured:
1) Enabling technology – Technical Focus Area
2) Management Focus Area
3) Business and Organizational Context Focus Area
The Technical Focus Area covers engineering aspects of software intensive-systems, including topics such as software and systems architecture, engineering notations and design tools, component technologies, quality attributes, requirements elicitation and analysis, development methods. Material taught in this area shall equip students with the ability to answer questions like “What do I need to know about technology and software development techniques that will help me manage my project and make good decisions?” or “How do I know that my technical people are on the right track?”. To develop that focus area a partnership with the Institute of Software research (School of Computer Science, CMU) is established, and fundamental courses like “Software Architectures” and “Design methods” are transferred already to SEMP Bulgarian professors, under one semester “faculty visitor” program. The piloting of these courses in three Bulgarian universities is in progress for the academic 2011/12 /13 years. A set of advanced supplementary, or more advanced courses, are already taught by industry experts at Sofia University (Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics), and Technical University of Sofia by VMWare Bulgaria and related to their VMware IT Academy. Another advanced technology subject, related to “Secure Coding” is under development in collaboration with another division of Carnegie Mellon – the CERT center (where the Secure Coding standards are published, but also other advanced topics such as Cyber Security, Insider Threat Analysis are available).
Or, in general – the Technological focus area is covering the advanced technology trends (not the programming techniques) and preparing the managers and the team leaders to design and develop the systems of tomorrow.

3. Focus on management and business

Under the Management Focus Area an academic version of the SEI (Software Engineering Institute) professional courses on CMMI and process improvement are delivered, thus making students equally (or even better) qualified and acquainted with the latest management models used by the world industry. A pilot course on “Quality Management Models” is thought already for the 4th year at FMI (Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics, Sofia University) for bachelor and master students by ESI Center Eastern Europe with more than 100 students, providing an excellent example of integration and value-added synergy between industrial and academic knowledge and practice. This course is accepted as an introductory course for all SEMP academic profiles. An adaptation of PMBOK for software project managers is also locally implemented in FMI and NBU (New Bulgarian University), with respective links and practical examples of software projects and CMMI-compliant terminology and processes. Additional skills and knowledge include team and personal software process management (TSP/PSP), leading development teams - based on the original Watts Humphrey methodology, and delivered in both academic (semester) and executive (intensive, professional) versions of the courses.
The Third, Business Oriented Focus Area, will provide students with grounding in the basic principles of how to manage organizations – be they in the private, public or not for profit sectors – and increasingly in a global setting. The second goal is to provide them with the opportunity to learn about the interplay of business processes and policy in the important verticals such as health care, logistics and supply chain systems, finance, and government. The third and final element is to provide a sound understanding of public policy issues that have become increasingly important in the design and development of software systems. Most of the courses are adaptations or improved versions of the courses already thought at Sofia University, American University in Bulgaria, or New Bulgarian University. That includes as well subjects like “Statistics for IT managers”, and the classics of strategic management by “Balanced ScoreCards” of Kaplan and Norton. A specific new developed course “Digitized Ecosystems” is developed jointly with two “serial entrepreneurs” and piloted with a class of 50 students already at Sofia University. The aim of the course is to provide business insight: a focused and practical real-world framework around the computer science academic lectures. It structured around the Dr. Edward Deming’s 14 key principles, providing an updated interpretation which incorporates evolving technological innovations with a humanistic economic approach. Even stand-alone, the course provides the tools for students to further excel in their career as senior technology specialists, managers, and entrepreneurs.

The general outline of the complete SEMP focus areas and sample courses looks like:
Enabling Technology
(engineering) Management
(processes) Business
Design Methods:
Deciding What to Design Organizational (Process) Management – Development, IT Services Strategy management (BSC)
Digitized Ecosystems
(Software) Requirements

Software/IT Architectures Team/Personal Process Management
Leading Development Teams Economic Analysis
Financial Accounting
Markets & Sales
Advanced Technology:
Secure coding
Cloud computing, virtualization, etc. Quantitative Project Management
Statistics for IT Managers Negotiation
Communications for IT managers
ICT law

4. The approach: building local capacity

The SEMP project involves devoted lecturers from various universities, with respective background qualification and with proven students’ appreciation. Their selection and participation is performed through a partnership with the leading universities and the IT business. Companies of BASSCOM (Bulgarian Association of Software Companies) and other IT associations declare commitment to participate in adaptation and piloting the courses, and the training process itself. The leading “suppliers” of professionals to the IT industry (as reported by the IT business, BASSCOM survey) are invited to partner – Sofia University (with the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics), Technical University Sofia, New Bulgarian University, American University in Bulgaria. The extended team will involve more lecturers from all the country – Plovdiv, Varna, Ruse etc. Thus, in addition to the main master level courses, the know-how will reach in adapted format large scale and wider profile students from other disciplines.

The curriculum and SEMP core content is initially based on three types of courses:
• Academic courses transfers (from Carnegie Mellon, ISR – Institute of Software Research): 2-4 (2 completed, in pilot phase)
• Professional courses (CMU, SEI – Software Engineering Institute): accredited instructors plus additional “academic adaptation” (5 completed, piloting)
• Augmented/improved or new developed local courses (addressing regional specifics, SMEs focus, EU context, etc.): 6-8 (piloting, “mentored” by ESI, SEI, CMU)

A new style of teaching and courses organization, are also adopted under the various transfer modes from Carnegie Mellon, based on:
• Student centric approach
• Synchronized and cross-linked content, terminology (based world standard), with real practical examples and case-studies
• Practicum/project work (studio course): based on the model used at Carnegie Mellon, during the entire program, and not by separate courses – complete projects, defined by the industry partners or invented (innovations and entrepreneurship, or even “start-up” establishment)

5. Addressing hot competences and skills needs
The competences and skills covered by the various courses and the complete SEMP profile are well synchronized with the EU supported activities in direction of modernizing the e-competences (via e-CF - e-Competence Framework, applied mainly for “industrial” profiles) and respective EQU (e-Qualification Framework, for the academic profiles). The areas identified by global and EU industry and expressed in the CEN “ICT Certification in Action” Project - are addressed. There is also an interesting bridge between industrial (or professional) skills required, and classical “academic” trainings and knowledge. Through various practical workshops and a complete studio projects, students will gain not just technical or theoretical knowledge in modern fields like cloud computing, or virtualization, digital transformation or complex systems architectures, product lines, etc. They will have managed already a mini-project in such practical areas (or even at the complexity of an equivalent to a “start-up” software or IT company). A specific BASSCOM study with more than 30 software companies has identified professional profiles and additional “soft skills” to which SEMP profiles and courses are further tuned and will be continually improved.

6. Stages and sustainability
The initial phases of the project are completed – main courses are transfer and/or developed, the main qualification tracks of the train-the-trainer program are completed with 8-10 professors or instructors, all courses are piloted (or being piloted this academic year) with at least 1-2 groups from 2-3 partner universities.

The next steps are:
• upgrade of existing 4-5 Master of Sciences profiles (or Bachelor Degree) with main partner universities with core set of SEMP courses in order to meet identified industrial profiles – in progress for profiles like: Software Development/Engineering Manager or Team Leader; IT Services Manager; Software Architect; Quality Manager
• defining of 1-2 complete SEMP Master programs (and considering the future option of “dual program” with CMU)
• continual improvement and maintenance of the courses (and materials), plus further train-the-trainer program development
• national and regional expansion of the program – in collaboration with leading universities and industry from the region of South Eastern Europe (interest from more than 5 countries even in pilot courses)

An inter-university center within ESI Center is already established as “SEMP: T&Q Center (Training and Qualification)” in order to:
• institutionalize the further content and curriculum development
• support and implement the train-the-trainer program
• perform advanced trainings (such as advanced technologies, or by visiting lecturers) and coordinate and mentor the practicum (studio courses)
• develop new areas – starting with a “Cyber Security” Lab, available both for training and R&D activities

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