October 03, 2006

HP grant benefits software design students

by Tim Crosby

. CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Students in a software design class at Southern Illinois University Carbondale are learning to be part of the team, thanks to a grant obtained by a professor.

Michael Wainer, associate professor in the computer science department in the College of Science, secured a grant worth more than $69,000 from Hewlett-Packard. The donation supports Wainer's proposal titled, "Enhancing Software Development through Communication, Collaboration and Team Building with Tablet PCs."

The award includes about $15,000 in cash and more than $58,000 in donated equipment, including 21 wireless Tablet PC computers. The notebook computers, which come equipped with touch screens capable of interacting with a stylus, are key to Wainer's team-based approach to software design.

"With software design today, you can't do it by yourself. Companies don't do it that way. You have to work in teams," Wainer said. "There's been little emphasis on teaching this approach in computer science."

SIUC is one of just 40 two- and four-year colleges and universities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico to receive a grant from the company's Technology for Teaching grant initiative. The company selected Wainer's proposal from a pool of more than 300 applications.

Wainer's software design and development class typically simulates the business environment by working for "clients" within the University. These include researchers and professors who need specific software features to help conduct, track and analyze data.

Hewlett-Packard designed the grant to support innovative uses of technology in higher education learning, as well as course redesign. Program goals include improving student achievement and encouraging student interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Along with the hardware, Wainer's students also use Web technology to work together even when they are physically far apart.

"We're moving away from the idea of the cubicle to more of a team coding room," Wainer said. "Companies aren't looking for people who are just great programmers who work by themselves in a corner. They want people who can work in a team environment.

"Our class now reflects that change. It's more like a studio than a lecture class," he said.

Identifying, pursuing and obtaining new sources of external grant and contract funding is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.


HP grant benefits software design students

Teamwork – Michael Wainer,
associate professor of
computer science at Southern
Illinois University Carbondale,
works with Tyler Neu, left, a
senior in computer science from
Effingham, and Marshall Riley,
a senior in computer science
from Marion, in their software
design and development class at
Faner Hall on the SIUC campus.
Wainer recently received a grant
worth more than $69,000 from
Hewlett-Packard that helps
support his team-based approach
to software design. Download
Photo Here