Campus & Community

New Software Engineering B.E. Program Sees First Graduating Class

Increasingly popular software engineering program takes a holistic approach to teaching students

Photo of Gregg Vesonder and software engineering students

The software engineering undergraduate program at the School of Systems and Enterprises (SSE) is looking toward a bright and highly innovative future after its first graduating class in mid-2018.

"Our first graduating class had five graduates. The incoming class is 18 students with an additional seven students who are undecided," said teaching professor and program lead Gregg Vesonder. "The undecided students have software engineering as their first choice of major. So we'll likely be well over 20."

The increasingly popular software engineering program takes a holistic approach to teaching students about systems, and encompasses everything from creation of systems components to maintaining and improving the entire finished product.

The program is the first in the U.S. that meets both the software engineering undergraduate curriculum standards and has an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited general engineering curriculum. Students enrolled in the program can choose to have concentrations in strategic domains such as financial systems, healthcare systems, cybersecurity and sustainable energy. They are also encouraged to participate in co-op, internships and research opportunities with leading companies partnered with SSE.

Vesonder said one of the major successes of the program was the creation of OrthoInsight, a unique sensor-enabled "smart" implant for knee joints that provides real-time information about the internal conditions of the joint prosthetic. The project won first place in the 2018 Johnson & Johnson Engineering Showcase and was showcased to much public adoration at the Stevens Innovation Expo.

Students currently enrolled in the engineering undergraduate program are working on projects such as autonomous vehicles and a full smart home system that governs its own free-roaming robot for eldercare. Vesonder adds that the currently-underway smart home system is a prime example of the holistic approach to education he takes in the program.

"We're building systems, not individual piece parts," he said. "So what we're interested in is how the smart home and the robot interact with each other. Not building a specifically-tailored robot to do one task. Software engineering is looking at the life cycle of product development, from idea generation all the way through maintenance in the field. So what software engineers learn how to do is to build software products."

Vesonder said he hopes students take away that the life cycle of a product "has many difficult elements to it and it's not all code," adding that only roughly 20 percent of students time should be spent coding. Through the rigors of coding, testing and maintaining, Vesonder says he believes students become natural leaders through the program.

"Students get an appreciation for what is important about building a product. The courses build people up to have a leadership role, because if you understand the whole product realization process and how much management goes into it, then you understand that it makes you a natural leader."