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"S. Ron Oliver" <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 20 Feb 2001 15:30:41 -0700
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At 09:02 AM 2/20/01 -0600, Johnson Phillip E wrote:

> >Perhaps, but I think what I'm really saying is that "techies", with the
> >bent you ascribe to them, are not the right people to be trusted with doing
> >software development of any kind that has any impact on the society at
> >large.  This is where we (especially us academics) have really screwed
> >up.  "Our" model of what software developers are is very blue-collar.  A
> >white collar, truly professional model, more like that for doctors and
> >lawyers, is much more appropriate.
>
>Ron appears to believe the ONLY true professional in the industry is a
>semi-retired professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering.

Quite the contrary.  In my software sucks! lecture I outline a proposed
means of achieving Professionalism in the field of software
development.  (Read on.)


>It is my observation that the academics believe that Engineers, Computer
>Scientist,
>Software Engineers, et. al. are "professionals" and not technicians.

Well.  I don't even believe that most "academics" in any of these fields
are "professional".

>While working in the computer field as a field engineer and a software
>developer for 30
>years, I observed the same mistakes being made over and over again by new
>graduates.

My expectation is that "new graduates" (especially during the past 25 years
or so, and the more recent the more likely) would make "the same" mistakes
much more often, and would likely make "new mistakes" that people who
entered the software development industry 30 years ago would most likely avoid.

>They were following what they had been taught.

Exactly.  And "what they were being taught", for the most part was, at
best, irrelevant, and often of negative value.

>I recommended to several department chairs that both schools of
>Engineering and Computer Science should require a one year internship
>prior to graduation.

Interesting.  My own proposal is similar to this.  My proposal is that
prospective software developers should get a REAL degree in Math, Science,
and/or Engineering (preferably all three), THEN do (at least) a one year
internship.  I tend to think it would be better if it were 1 1/2 years or
longer.

>The unanimous response was, "We are graduating professionals not technicians."

Well, what can I say.  You were talking to the wrong people.


> >Blue-collar "professionals", understandably, require considerable
> >government intervention.  White-collar professionals, at worst, guide the
> >government in setting standards of conduct and practice.
>
>"understandably"
>
>This is an ego-centric attitude at best.  I have seen "Blue-Collar"
>professionals that more professional than any "white-collar" and adhere to
>"standards and practices" with little or no oversight.

I have seen this too.  But (well, let's not get into that just now . . .)

My use of the term "Blue-Collar" is intended to characterize someone in a
career that demands LESS than a 4-year college degree.  (And that is
precisely what almost all Computer Science majors get these days.)

By contrast, I would expect "White-Collar" would denote someone with
significantly MORE than a 4 year degree.  (Don't ask me what color collar
those in the middle wear.  I'm not sure.  Checkered? :)

Of course, a "4 year degree, plus", in itself, is not sufficient.  The
course of study must be relevant.

>I have seen "white-collars" that thought they were so superior that they
>did not
>understand why they were fired for do getting the product out (over and
>over).

So have I.  They simply aren't wearing the correct "brand" of white collar.

>The fact is the individual not the group define the work ethic of a
>professional.

Most professional disciplines have very carefully written codes of
ethics.  The role of the individual is to apply that code of ethics
conscientiously, not to write his own.

Interestingly enough, "we" (Computing Professionals) have at least two such
codes of ethics - one produced by ACM, one by IEEE - how many contemporary
software developers even know they exist, let alone have read them?


>Ron tends to paint his pictures with a "very" broad brush,

I hope you now see a little more of the detail.

>when the actual world does not live in his Ivory tower.

By "actual world" I suppose you mean the overwhelming majority of "current
working environments for software developers".  I haven't a clue what you
mean by "Ivory tower".  However, if my interpretation of "actual world" is
even close, I would say they do not "live by" anything remotely close to
professionalism, by any reasonable understanding of the term
"professional".  The evidence is clear.  Look at all that sucky software
and the almost total absence of quality software.  :)

sro

S. Ron Oliver, semi-retired professor of Computer Science and Computer
Engineering.  www.csc.calpoly.edu/~sroliver

caress Corporation is proud to be the U.S. representative for Top Graph'X,
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links to software sucks and The Oliver Academy.

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