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16th Annual Workshop for Educators Explores AI, Machine Learning, and Software Quality

16th Annual Workshop for Educators Explores AI, Machine Learning, and Software Quality
August 28, 2019 • Article

August 28, 2019—The SEI recently hosted software engineering educators at the SEI’s Pittsburgh headquarters for the 16th Software Engineering Workshop for Educators. Each year, the SEI holds the workshop to foster an ongoing exchange of ideas among educators of software engineering, as part of its mission to transition its expertise and support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This year’s 33 participants, representing the event’s greatest attendance to date, dug into artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and software quality.

Course work occupied the first two days of the workshop. The SEI’s April Galyardt and Lena Pons taught Machine Learning 101. Carnegie Mellon University’s Alex John London delivered Ethical Reasoning In, and About, Artificial Intelligence.

At each workshop, the SEI polls participants for future course topics. “Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science were high on the list of topics participants thought were important to introduce to the classroom,” said Robert Nord, senior member of the technical staff in the SEI’s Software Solutions Division and one of the workshop’s organizers. “The course work in ML described one of the technologies the SEI is applying to engineering AI systems for mission-practical capabilities.”

Participants found the courses about the rapidly changing fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence particularly valuable. “The workshops will help me to teach machine learning not only as a topic to learn about data,” said workshop participant Alfredo J. Perez, of Columbus State University, “but also to engineer software systems and architectures that incorporate machine learning and AI flows.” He added that the ethical reasoning course will inform how he teaches students to quantify ethical decisions and their impact in system design.

Rick Neighbarger, of the American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the SEI’s David Zubrow, also an ASQ member and soon-to-be chair of ASQ’s Software Division, rounded out the course work with Opportunities and Resources from the ASQ Software Division.

The final day of the event was devoted to invited talks and group sessions, facilitated by Nord and Grace Lewis, an SEI principal researcher and lead of the Tactical and AI-Enabled Systems initiative.

In the group sessions, participants shared experiences, ideas, and tangible artifacts, such as course slides and syllabi, on the topics of artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and data analytics; evolution, adaptation, continuous integration, continuous delivery, and DevOps; and computer science and software engineering teaching.

“The workshop creates a community,” said Lewis. “Each attendee extended their network by 32 people and extended the artifacts and ideas that they can use in their courses by just as much.”

Workshop participant Clemente Izurieta, of Montana State University, said of the group sessions, “The opportunity to meet with colleagues and share curriculum content in such a fast-paced domain is invaluable.” Many participants echoed Izurieta’s sentiment about the value of building a community of software engineering educators.

By teaching the teachers, the Software Engineering Workshop for Educators allows the SEI to transition its expertise on these subjects, indirectly, to potentially thousands of software engineering students in the technology workforce’s pipeline. The rapid pace of technological change and ever-growing need for qualified software professionals have made for fertile ground for the SEI’s long-running annual workshop.

“The impacts are felt at multiple levels,” said participant Shawn Bohner, of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, “ranging from individual software engineering courses to software engineering programs, graduate and undergraduate, and furthering the state of software engineering practice in the U.S.”