New graduates with strong software development skill are in high demand across the USA. Defense and Intelligence systems that provide an edge in today's fractious international environment are software-intensive and need competent new developers. Sad to say, the recent track record for such software is not good; the rapid, user-oriented development capability associated with plugfesting addresses some of their key weaknesses. Thus a working familiarity with plugfesting is highly desirable in new hires to develop Defense and Intelligence software.
Two institutions of higher learning in particular have established track records in working with students to prepare them for plugfesting. These are San Diego State University (SDSU) and George Mason University (GMU). The two share some common characteristics: they are located in areas where Defense and Intelligence software development is highly active; they take an innovative, technology-focused approach to education; and many of their students go on to work for Defense and Intelligence contractors.
On behalf of myself and of Steve Price of SDSU, I’m here to report that:
- The standard IEEE/ACM curriculum in Computer Science does not yet include Web Applications, the core skill set for plugfesting; so we are starting our own elective courses
- Our students perform very well in plugfesting, given adequate orientation and mentorship
- It is hard to get student attention to plugfesting because of the wide variety of other topics that attract their attention and the limited hours students have available for extra-curricular activities given their full schedules (many of them have part-time jobs)
- We have demonstrated that, if we have resources to provide an attractive environment for plugfesting, we are able to engage more students
Bottom line: plugfesting is a great way to prepare students for improved Defense and Intelligence software development; but competition for student attention is fierce; with more resources we could do it more effectively.
Professor of Computer Science
George Mason University