28 June 2007

The University of Queensland today announced a new partnership with Boeing and Carnegie Mellon University to help tackle Australia’s critical shortage of qualified software engineers.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor John Hay, AC, hosted the launch of Australia’s first Master of Engineering (Software Engineering) through distance learning, enabling industry professionals working in remote locations to complete the program on site.

Professor Hay welcomed the partnership, which he said would address industry skills requirements while providing premium quality content for students.

He said Boeing funding would be used to empower further the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at UQ to deliver top-quality software and systems engineering courses by distance learning.

The Boeing Professor of Systems Engineering at UQ, Professor Peter Lindsay, said the University was happy to announce it had licensed the first of seven planned courses from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for the UQ masters suite in software engineering.

“Students therefore will have access to an internationally-regarded product, drawing on the world-leading expertise of CMU, which is widely-acknowledged as one of the top universities in software engineering internationally,” Professor Lindsay said.

The first course from Carnegie Mellon University will be offered in the Master of Engineering (Software Engineering) from semester two, starting July 23.

“We’re delighted to be the catalyst in getting this highly-regarded course to Australia,” the President of Boeing Australia, Craig Saddler, said.

“This is yet another Boeing investment in the education of future Australian generations.

“The course will be of great interest to many of our 4000 Australian employees, and others looking for an aerospace career.”

Mr Saddler, recently appointed Boeing executive focal for UQ, said Boeing supported education programs on various levels, starting from the successful Queensland high schools gateway program.

“Our aim is to make a difference, and introducing this Carnegie Mellon course will be of value to many students,” he said.

The Director of the Master of Software Engineering Programs at CMU, Professor David Garlan, said the collaboration would complement Carnegie Mellon University’s existing broad base of international collaborations in the area of professional software engineering masters programs.

“Since its inception in 1989, the MSE Programs have provided outstanding training to our students, and prepared them to be agents of change in industry. We are delighted to be working with UQ to transfer that calibre of education to students in its degree programs,” he said.

The Director of the Institute for Software Research at CMU, Professor William Scherlis, said that UQ had shown “tremendous vision” in its development and refinement of its international educational programs.

“We look forward to what we know will be a long and mutually rewarding relationship,” he said.

Professor Lindsay (UQ) said there was currently a skills crisis in software engineering and in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) industries generally.

He said there was a 60 percent decline in people entering the ICT industries, and only one third of students in the pipeline compared with a few years ago.

“Employers in Australia’s burgeoning aerospace industry, defence, the finance industry and even the medical sector are suffering shortages in software engineers and the pipeline is dry unless the skills crisis is urgently addressed,” Professor Lindsay said.

”The reverse of this is that people entering software engineering are in a happy position, with potential to command top salaries.”

Professor Lindsay said the new program would be targeted at working professionals.

“We’ve done extensive research into the demand for masters degrees in this field and found that the convenience of being able to study off campus is important, particularly to those in full time work who are keen for the opportunity to upgrade their skills,” he said.

UQ’s Associate Professor Paul Strooper is managing the development of the UQ Master of Engineering (Software Engineering) by distance learning program.

“The program is being developed to meet industry demand for the skills that will be required for designing and operating tomorrow's complex software systems,” Dr. Strooper said.

He said the Master of Engineering (Software Engineering) would be attractive to engineering or IT graduates, while programs were also available at the Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma levels for some non-graduates with relevant industry experience.

“While the needs are most obvious in defence and aerospace, US evidence shows that the skills developed in this program will be in high demand across the whole high-tech spectrum,” Dr Strooper said.

He said UQ’s reputation for exceptional software and systems engineering courses was well known around the Asia Pacific region and there was high demand for this type of program.

People wishing to find out more about the program can contact Ms Debbie Bertram at dbertram@itee.uq.edu.au or telephone 07 3365 3840 or visit www.uq.edu.au/study.

Media: For further information please contact
• Professor Peter Lindsay, telephone 07 3365 2005 or Jan King at 0413 601 248 (UQ),
• Ken Morton, telephone 029 086 3300; mobile 0437 787 787 (Boeing)
• John T. Grasso, telephone +412-268-1695 (Director, ISRI Strategic Development and Distance Learning, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University).