Sept. 11, 2018

World leaders in software development compare notes at conference hosted by Schulich School

It's so important to grow the number of trained professionals in 'requirements engineering,' Dean Rosehart tells audience from 38 countries

Surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, people attending a conference in Banff stare at screens and keyboards. Not that you can blame the nearly 250 delegates in attendance for August’s 2018 26th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE’18) — because as interesting as the Rocky Mountains are outside, it’s the discussions going on inside the Banff Centre that are truly captivating for these world leaders in software development.

“Requirements engineering is the link between the public and the software developer, to ensure what the customer requires is what they actually get,” explains Dr. Guenther Ruhe, PhD, a software engineering professor at the University of Calgary, and chairman of this year’s RE’18.

“It’s the task of mining, gathering, specifying and analyzing the requirements from users and customers and deciding what should be built when and for whom. Still, a too-large portion of software features implemented is seldom or never used.”

The concept sounds simple, but whether it’s an emergency app or the first automated car, making software that’s useful and intuitive is an ongoing challenge, and one that brings the best minds in the world together each year for sharing most recent breakthroughs and results.

Hosted by the Schulich School of Engineering, this year’s conference in Banff was a prestigious honour, one that places the University of Calgary in the company of post-secondary institutes in cities like Beijing, Lisbon, Beijing and Sydney.

Of course, guests had a chance to tour Banff and take in the beauty of the surrounding area, but the real action was inside the Banff Centre, where a week’s worth of discussion, discovery and interaction with industry representatives was taking place.

“All industries, from farming to city planning to oil and gas, are relying on software-engineering based technology to increase efficiency and innovation,” Schulich School of Engineering Dean Bill Rosehart told guests in his official welcome. “That’s why it is so important to grow the number of trained professionals in this field, and to support them through new programs and through world-leading conferences like this one, as engineers continue to push the boundaries of understanding with technology.”

Keynotes included Disruptive Change in Requirements Engineering Research by Dr. Jane ClelandHuang, PhD, University of Notre Dame, and Beyond DevOps: Finding Value through Requirements by Dr. Gail Murphy, PhD, University of British Columbia.

As well, Dr. Krzysztof Czarnecki, PhD, University of Waterloo, spoke on Requirements Engineering in the Age of Societal-Scale Cyber-Physical Systems: The Case of Automated Driving.

With professors, students and industry professionals from 38 countries joining government officials at the first Alberta-hosted event, the conference was seen as recognition of the province’s growing importance in the field of software engineering.

“It’s certainly recognition of the software engineering research and innovation taking place at the University of Calgary,” says Ruhe.