IEEE Computer Society Improves Software Certification

More training aids available to entry-level developers

8 August 2012

The IEEE Computer Society’s two software development certifications were enhanced this year. Highlights of the upgrade include revised exams, updated and narrated preparation courses, and assessment tutorials on the IEEE Xplore digital library. A test for undergraduates, along with a pilot internship program, was launched as well, designed to get college students involved in the Computer Society and earn certification before they graduate.

The year began with an update to the Certified Software Development Associate (CSDA) exam to bring it in line with the new version of the Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK Guide), the manual test-takers study for the certification exams. The CSDA is intended for entry-level developers, while the Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP) test is designed for midcareer professionals. Nearly 300 new questions were developed for the CSDA, and they are being distributed throughout various versions of the 180-question exam. Approximately 40 IEEE Computer Society volunteers from universities, government agencies, and the private sector worked on the 14-month-long project.

The IEEE Computer Society and its education partner, New Horizons United, began offering an online version of the CSDP preparation course in March. The  classes are taught by certified instructors from the society and cover the 15 core SWEBOK knowledge areas.

After successfully completing the course, students receive a US $200 coupon good toward the $595 price of the CSDP exam. They also get one month of access to the online CSDP preparation course, which includes three foundational knowledge areas not covered in the new virtual training class.

Still more training aids are available in IEEE Xplore’s eLearning Library. The IEEE Software Engineering Assessment Series consists of 14 tutorials that are aligned to SWEBOK. Each tutorial includes subtopics that review a SWEBOK knowledge area, and quizzes are given to measure students’ comprehension. A list of textbooks, papers, websites, and other reference materials is included.

“The IEEE Computer Society’s education programs and certification provide an effective way for software professionals to enhance their career potential by gaining knowledge and perspective on the software engineering discipline,” says Senior Member Dennis Frailey, co-chair of the IEEE Educational Activities Board Professional Development Committee.

People who take the CSDP exam preparation courses can earn continuing-education units or professional development hours in standard software engineering topics, earn credits toward a CSDP recertification, and use the training as a way to advance their career.

Employers can use the credentials to measure their software staff’s expertise in a particular area, establish best practices, and offer tutorials as professional development training.

One company supporting the IEEE certifications is Infosys, a provider of consulting and technology services headquartered in Bangalore, India. It adopted the two development certifications in May to enhance the training of its software engineers. It is the first large Indian company to become an IEEE Computer Society Registered Education provider, joining more than a dozen other organizations from around the world.

The Computer Society has been working on a pilot program to help prepare students for software-engineering careers. To this end, it now offers the CSDA certification exam in two parts so undergraduates can begin the certification process as soon as they complete their first year of college. Part one covers the math, engineering, and computing areas vital to software engineering. The second part addresses software development, software life cycle management, and professional practices. Students can take the parts in either order, and once they complete either exam, they become eligible to apply for internships arranged by IEEE.

The pilot, expected to begin during the next few months, will initially be available only to students in Southern California. It will be offered by the IEEE Computer Society’s Orange County (California) chapter, which will provide mentors, guidance, contact information for local industries, and other information, according to John Keppler, manager of the society’s certifications and professional education programs. If successful, the program will expand to other IEEE regions, says Keppler.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

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