Fairfield University School of Engineering students to gain valuable knowledge thanks to Connecticut Space Grant


Computer Engineering
Fairfield University Associate Professor Wook-Sung Yoo, Ph.D., will work with engineering students to develop a web-based software-review tool that several area Fortune 500 corporations, as well as NASA, are enthusiastic about.

A $7,500 grant recently awarded to Yoo by the Connecticut Space Grant College Consortium will help with expenses. "This award is a great support for me to continue to build on my research in software engineering areas while providing opportunity for students at the School of Engineering to be involved in research," said Yoo, chair of the software engineering program. "This research and curriculum development will enhance the teaching of both the undergraduate and graduate software engineering programs."

With the rapid growth of information technology, the demand for software system development is increasing. Essential to creating successful software is to identify glitches and ensure the quality of software products - an area of engineering in need of new tools. That is where Yoo's creation - 'Online Formal Technical Review Log Tool' (FTR) - comes in.

Elaheh Zamanian, section manager of Internet & PC Software Solutions at Pitney Bowes, said the tool is an asset. "Formal Technical Review is an important quality filter for high quality software products and I am glad that Dr. Yoo provides tools to facilitate the use of the FTR process in software development."

A successful integration of the FTR log tool in the School of Engineering's curriculum through this grant will enhance the use of FTR in the software industry and improve the quality of software products, according to the grant proposal. The tool will be improved with help of undergraduate and graduate students and used in Software Design, Senior Project and Capstone Project Course. It was successfully tested in a capstone course at the School last year.        

The grant will enable Yoo and his student researchers to further refine it for area industries such as Fairfield-based General Electric, Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft and Danbury-based Pitney Bowes. "They have expressed interest in this project and will collaborate on using the tool and training software engineers on FTR," noted Yoo.

The research has even received a ringing endorsement from NASA, which is working on a database project and protocol with Yoo and his students. "NASA believes that Dr. Yoo has created an online tool for FTR process and we also expect this tool will be available for use at NASA to further improve the quality of software," said David A. Maluf, Ph.D., of NASA's Ames Research Center.

Although the Formal Technical Review (FTR) has been known as one of the best-practice techniques to find errors and ensure quality of software products, it has not been widely used in modern software development in industry due to the lack of training and excessive overhead. The FTR data-collection and reporting processes have usually been implemented in paper form or spreadsheets. These manual forms of FTR reports make the communication among team members difficult, and force the follow-up process of FTR meetings to become ineffective.

The FTR Log Tool project at Fairfield will address those challenges. "I have proposed to adapt this tool in software engineering classes for students to practice the entire FTR process in a classroom environment," Yoo added.

The knowledge students will gain from understanding FTR will be valuable after graduation. "It can be used in other engineering disciplines too," Yoo noted. "The more people who know how to use it, the better become the quality of the products."

Among other expenses, the grant from the Connecticut Space Grant College

Consortium will provide stipends for an undergraduate and a graduate student to work on the research project over the summer. (Fairfield University students interested in applying for these positions e-mail wyoo@fairfield.edu or call (203) 254-4000, ext. 3331.)

Image: Faculty and students at the School of Engineering work on various research projects together, including during the Capstone course.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 7, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 228