On May 16th of 2015, the University of Texas at Dallas’ Computer Science Department graduated the second class of the Executive Master of Science in Software Engineering (EMSE) program. Twelve students graduated after twenty months of coursework earning an executive master’s degree in Software Engineering with the intent of furthering their professional careers.
After the graduation ceremony, the graduates, their family and friends gathered in the atrium of the engineering building for a luncheon and the Academic Excellence Certificate presentations. The CS Department awards Certificates of Academic Excellence to bachelor and master students with a GPA of 3.9 or higher. Four students from the EMSE program received the certificate: Eric Fortenberry, Scott Garee, Brian MacKay and Kathryn Whitmire.
Brian MacKay returned to school after working in the industry for 35 years. He had been thinking about enrolling in graduate school on and off for years. After hearing an advertisement for the UT Dallas program on a local NPR station, he decided to apply. “It has been interesting to get the ‘academic’ view on something that I have been doing all this time. And the unique mix of students from very different backgrounds was also a rewarding and enriching experience.”, he said.
The main objective of the EMSE program in Software Engineering is to equip students with the skills necessary to pursue positions of increasing professional responsibility in their careers. The program aims to provide students, who are working as full-time software engineers, with a relevant, proficient, and professional education. The EMSE degree is part of the Software Engineering program at UT Dallas that ranks 24th worldwide based on faculty member’s research productivity.
The EMSE program moves along at a fast pace. Even the process for admission is accelerated. The schedule is conveniently arranged for students who work full-time. The classes meet one Friday and two Saturdays each month, with each class (lectures and labs) lasting four hours. The degree requirements include five core courses and six electives. The students, who already have industry experience, acquire the knowledge and tools to deliver rigorous, on-time, on-budget software systems. During the 20-month program the students learn about state-of-the-practice methods and tools to specify, design, architect, construct and test software systems. The EMSE students learn to manage software projects, developers and resources. The students are assigned both group and individual projects. The projects deal with “real world” problems, and the students must use their software engineering skills to create a solution.
Dr. Rym Wenkstern, the EMSE program director, compared the process of building a large-scale complex software system to that of building a bridge. “Similar to structural and civil engineers, software engineers are expected to analyze and validate requirements, define and verify architecture/designs, and implement and test their systems. Students who join our program learn how to maintain project integrity throughout the development process while minimizing future roadblocks that they may encounter while developing their software system.”
The third class consisting of fifteen students, who entered the program in the fall 2014, are expected to graduate in May 2016. The program is currently accepting applications for the fall 2016 class.