It’s a case of making sure the supply meets the demand.
When Kansas State University asked software engineering companies what skills they wanted most in potential employees, the university listened and enhanced its master of software engineering program to ensure its graduates could meet these needs.
The master of software engineering program has reorganized its curriculum to provide students with more specialized fields and to give companies more skilled software engineers. The reorganization was made following some market research.
Kansas State University’s Scott DeLoach, professor of computing and information sciences and head of the master of software engineering program, along with other program leaders, contacted numerous software engineering companies to determine which specialized skills they seek most in potential employees. DeLoach and his colleagues then based their program’s new structure on the skills most desired by those companies.
The reorganization divides the program into distinct sequences and broadens students’ options for specializing in specific areas of software engineering, such as bioinformatics, data mining, Web-based systems and computer security, among others.
“One of the reasons we did go to the sequences was to promote that to companies,” DeLoach said. “We’re using it as a kind of sales approach. We can do security, software engineering — those kinds of things. One of the things we wanted to focus on was meeting companies’ needs.”
According to DeLoach, the content for each sequence existed previously, but the structure was confusing for some students. Now, the program’s formalized organization makes it easy for students to plan their course schedules, particularly if they are taking classes online.
Though the program does have some on-campus students, the majority enrolled are off-campus students who take courses online through K-State’s Division of Continuing Education. Many of DeLoach’s students already work full time in the software engineering field, so taking classes online allows them to work around their busy schedules.
The online master of software engineering program’s flexibility caters especially to students in the military, even those on active duty. DeLoach, a 20-year Air Force veteran himself, posts course lectures, assignments and other content online the first day of class. Because of this, students can download all the lectures onto a computer or a mobile device and watch them in any location at their convenience.
“I’ve had students who have been taking the course from Iraq and Afghanistan,” DeLoach said. “With students on active duty, I’m very flexible and I think most of our instructors are when working with them.”