Outstanding Engineer Education Plan for School of Information and Software Engineering at UESTC
This paper represents implementation details of Outstanding Engineer Education Plan for School of Information and Software Engineering at University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. Particularly, quality assurance measures of the plan are discussed. The problems met in the first 3 year practice of the plan are analyzed and countermeasures are proposed.
KeywordsOutstanding engineer education Quality assurance Education plan
School of Information and Software Engineering (SISE) at University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC) was founded in 2001 and is the first batch of 35 demonstrative software schools in China. SISE of UESTC was originally called School of Software Engineering. The name was changed to School of Information and Software Engineering with also the change of whole education plan in 2011. Before 2011, the education plan of SISE had no much difference from the education plan of other schools of UESTC. For the grades before grade 2012, for the first 7 semesters, students of SISE stay on campus for course study. In the last semester, students of SISE do a project and finish their undergraduate thesis under the guidance of SISE teachers. Starting from grade 2012, education plan of SISE put more focus on cooperating with enterprises. Since then, students are expected to spend at least 1 year at companies for engineering training. The objective of the education plan is to cultivate outstanding engineers. So the new education plan is called Outstanding Engineer Education Plan. After almost 4 years’ practice of Outstanding Engineer Education Plan, there are both achievements and problems.
In this paper, we will first talk about the plan itself. Then the quality assurance measures, the problems and the countermeasures will be discussed.
2 Schedule of Outstanding Engineer Education Plan
Schedule of Outstanding Engineer Education Plan with respect to company internship
Semester 1 and semester 2
Visit to the local IT companies
Summer holiday after semester 4
Summer holiday internship
Course Experiment I
32 class hours
Enterprise Cooperation Course I
16 class hours
Enterprise Cooperation Course II
16 class hours
Enterprise Cooperation Course III
16 class hours
Modern Information Engineering Enterprise Practice I
Course Experiment II
32 class hours
Modern Information Engineering Enterprise Practice II
All content listed in Table 1 is mandatory. To encourage students to cultivate International vision, with necessary application process, the Enterprise Internship can be substituted by study abroad program.
For Summer Holiday Internship, students are usually sent to technology training organization and companies. The training fee is paid by SISE. A lead teacher is assigned to every student group for safety supervision and training process control.
For Course Experiments, students are divided into small group. They are guided by SISE teachers to finish a small project on campus.
For Modern Information Engineering Enterprise Practice, through the way of two-way choice, students are sent to companies for internship. Companies will provide training, accommodation, necessary resources and sometime nominal salaries for SISE students. Every student is required to participate in a project at a company and submit weekly reports and a project summary to a SISE teacher.
For Semester 8, students are required to write an undergraduate thesis at a company. Different from Modern Information Engineering Enterprise Practice, this stage put more emphasis on the writing of thesis.
Enterprise Cooperation Courses are very flexible courses in which course contents can be about any knowledge in software engineering. Not like regular courses at SISE which usually last a semester or half a semester, Enterprise Cooperation Courses can be taught in a compact style. For the convenience of enterprise course teachers, Enterprise Cooperation Courses are arranged on weekends or at nights.
3 Quality Assurance Measures
3.1 School Council Accountability System
School Council is organized to control the internship process and the training quality. School Council takes the role of supervision and evaluation. For example, School Council is responsible for evaluating qualification of companies and Enterprise Cooperation Courses teachers.
3.2 Strict Company Qualification Examination and Process Controls
SISE only works with well-known companies whose assets and reputation meet certain requirements. Interested companies should first submit qualification documents such as photocopy of its business license to SISE together with application forms. In application forms, companies must provide detailed descriptions of their internship programs with the following information: the number of students they will recruit for each project, description of objectives and contents of the projects, description of minimum requirements on students’ skills or prerequisite course list and the final training objectives. Those qualification documents and application forms will be discussed by School Council. Workload, degree of difficulty, feasibility and values of training will be well assessed by School Council before the company being qualified to be selected by students. SISE will then send descriptions of projects to all students and arrange two-way choice interview between companies and students. After that, companies will sign tripartite agreements with SISE and the students that they accepted. In those agreements, the responsibilities of the companies for students’ safety, the training objectives, the salaries and the resources allocated for the internship are described.
3.3 Enterprise Cooperation Course Selection
The teachers for Enterprise Cooperation Courses are recommended by cooperative companies. They must have at least 5 years’ practical experience in research and development at enterprises and have advanced technical job title granted by Chinese government.
3.4 Responsibilities of SISE Teachers for Internship
For Summer Holiday Internship, SISE will send a lead teacher to supervise the whole internship process at the training site. Lead teachers are required to supervise the students’ safety and attendance time. They should also communicate with companies so that companies can better adapt their courses and projects to the needs and the abilities of most students. They are required to report daily to School Council the training contents.
For Modern Information Engineering Enterprise Practice I at semester 6, Modern Information Engineering Enterprise Practice II at semester 7 and Undergraduate Thesis at semester 8, every student will be paired with a SISE teacher. Students are required to report weekly to their teachers for their periodic achievements. In this way, those students who didn’t perform well and those companies who didn’t provide good training to students will be identifiable timely. Necessary measures such as warnings on the students or moving the students out of the program will be taken.
3.5 Internship Summary and Company Grading
When the internship is finished, every student and every company will be required to write a summary for the internship. Considering performance of the student’s altitude, ability and achievements, companies will give every student a score. The students with a score below standard will not get their undergraduate degrees.
3.6 Internship Project Defense
SISE encourages students to go to companies which have signed agreements with SISE. However, SISE also allow students to contact companies by themselves. On one hand, because the education plan was made only 4 years ago and the student population for SISE has been increasing since then, it is not easy to find a company for every student although SISE has signed internship agreements with dozens of companies. On the other hand, allowing students to go to companies not in the SISE company list give students better chance to find a position at their hometown or in a better company. The question left is how to control training quality for those at self-contacted companies. In addition to mandatory weekly report to SISE teachers, SISE requires every student to present their project achievements and do a project defense after they are back to school. A Defense committee of 5 experts will question and evaluate the achievements of the student and finally score the student’s performance in the project. In such a way, students are prevented from taking chances and wasting their time by doing nothing.
4 Problems and Countermeasures
The education plan has been practiced smoothly at SISE for 3 years. On the whole, it has been very successful. However, there are still some problems to be dealt with.
4.1 Quantity and Quality of Cooperative Companies
Distribution of students at companies
Number of students
Chengdu Dongfangtong High-tech company, Ltd
Chengdu Weina software company, Ltd
Qingniu (Beijing) High-tech company, Ltd
UESTC Keyuan company, Ltd
Wensi Haihui High-tech company, Ltd
Beijing IBM company
SAP company, Germany
As can be seen from Table 2, while there are 444 students in total that need to be placed at companies, SISE can only offer students nine different options. In addition, only two cooperative companies are multinational companies, while most cooperative companies are local companies at Chengdu.
To solve this problem, SISE joins various societies and organizations such as Software Industry Association, Electronics Industry Association and Industrialization and Informatization Alliance for the purpose of establishing better connection with the industries. On the other hand, the first batch of students is now looking for jobs. Some students took job offers from companies at which they did their internship. It is very encouraging for companies to be a partner with SISE. They thought recruiting students for internship is a good way for them to make a reserve for their future employees. In a word, more and more companies become interested to recruit students from SISE for internship. Till the end of 2014, more than 30 companies have signed agreements with SISE for providing internship opportunities. It is foreseeable that SISE students will have more diversified and high-end choices for their internships in the near future.
4.2 The Unwillingness of Companies to Accept Students at the Undergraduate Thesis Stage
At the end of 2014, senior students at SISE started to contact companies for Undergraduate Thesis which is their final stage at school. However, although companies are very enthusiastic about recruiting students for Modern Information Engineering Enterprise Practice stage, they are very reluctant to recruit students for this last stage. Firstly, at this stage, most students pay more attention to finding a job than to participating in a project and they are quite uncontrollable at this stage. Secondly, companies think their engineers are not qualified to guide students to write a thesis. It is worth considering whether students should stay on campus and finish the graduate project and thesis under the guidance of teachers or they should finish Undergraduate Thesis at companies. To solve the problem, SISE now allows students to do Undergraduate Thesis on campus or off campus. If a student will do thesis at a company, a teacher will be assigned to guide him or her through this process to ensure the quality of Undergraduate Thesis.
4.3 Quality of Enterprise Cooperative Courses
Although SISE requires that the teachers for Enterprise Cooperative Courses to have practical skills and government granted title, it is not necessary that they could be good lecturers. From the feedback of students who took Enterprise Cooperative Courses, most course teachers are also good at teaching. Still some teachers are not serious or capable of being a course teacher. Next step, SISE will take several measures to ensure the quality of Enterprise Cooperative Courses. First, pre-post training will be initiated which requires every first time course teacher to go through a teaching skill training process. Secondly, their teaching materials including slides will be evaluated by School Council before the course starts. Thirdly, teaching evaluation system will take effect and those with bad evaluation will be forbidden to teach again at SISE. Even with these measures, it will take time for SISE to have a group of qualified enterprise course teachers to collaborate with.
4.4 Work Pressure on SISE Teachers
With a student population of more than 2000 and a teacher population of less than 100, the student teacher number ratio is more than 20, while the average student teacher number ratio of UESTC is about 9. The initial motivation of this setting for SISE is to hire more teachers from the industries or to hire more international teachers. If there are plenty of off-campus teachers, there is no need for having many on-campus teachers. The truth is that with limited budgets it is almost impossible to invite many off-campus teachers to teach at SISE. In addition, not like teachers at other schools of UESTC, in addition to teaching courses, SISE teachers have to take other tasks such as leading the summer holiday internship, guiding thesis writing and internship quality control. This situation cannot last for the long run. Luckily, the university realized these problems and made plans to allocate more resources for SISE. The university already offers more than ten million RMB for lab construction and extra subsidies to students for enterprise placements and overseas placements. Next step, the university plans to allocate more money and resources to SISE so that it is possible to hire more teachers from companies and overseas. Hopefully, the situation will get better in the near future.
Prizes won by SISE students at competitions
Prize level and number
International Genetic Engineering Machine Competition held by MIT
ARM ST competition
One of the two first prizes
IBM mainframe Competition
Two of the five first prizes
Intelligent terminal design competition held by Baidu
The only first prize
SAP Lumira Competition
One of the two first prizes
SISE students are also very successful in job market. Until now, more than 95 % of those SISE grade 2011 students who decided to get a job immediately after graduation have signed 3 party agreement with SISE and companies which will hire them. Considering the percentage of those who will further their education, more than 98 % of SISE grade 2011 students know where they can go after graduation now. A group of four SISE grade 2011 undergraduate students acquired a five million RMB Venture Capital with their project named ‘Location-based C2C Instant E-commerce’ and they have already started a company in Beijing. They are the only undergraduate group at UESTC which manages to land Venture Capital while still at school.
The Outstanding Engineer Education Plan has been practiced at SISE of UESTC for more than 3 years. Generally speaking, it has been a very successful plan in respect of engineering education.
However, as the first batch of students in the plan is still on campus, there are quite a few problems to be dealt with for this new plan. With the support from the University, problems will be solved and Outstanding Engineer Education Plan will play its active role for cultivation of software talents.