Computer Society Connection
MARCH 2005 (Vol. 38, No. 3) pp. 75-79
0018-9162/05/$31.00 © 2005 IEEE

Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Computer Society Connection

New CSDP testing sites open in 2005
The IEEE Computer Society recently announced the addition of 31 new Certified Software Development Professional exam administration centers in Western Europe, Central Asia, and the Balkans. The CSDP certification program is unique in the software engineering field, offering exposure to recent advances in engineering theory, gains in employment distinction, and career opportunities. Experienced software developers who desire external validation of their skills are invited to take the exam.
The IEEE Computer Society CSDP credential offers developers the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of software engineering practice. The 180-question, 3.5-hour CSDP examination is intended for mid-level professionals and carries the brand, reputation, and standards of the IEEE Computer Society.
Broad-Based Certification
Product-specific requirements form the foundation of many recent technical certification programs. For example, an expert in Novell, Microsoft, or Linux systems can seek a certificate that reflects expertise in those particular environments. Other technical certification programs are often driven by project- or occupation-specific requirements. The IEEE Computer Society has recognized the need for one broad, objective certification program that acknowledges a level of advanced skill in all facets of software development.
The skills tested during the CSDP exam process are not vendor-specific and should prove relevant far into the future. CSDP certification not only serves to further the careers of those who take the test; it also provides a real measure of return-on-investment for a project manager or employer.
CSDP Test Details
CSDP candidates must hold a baccalaureate degree and must have at least two years of software engineering experience within the four-year period prior to the application. Candidates must also have a total of at least 9,000 hours of relevant experience. CSDP certificate holders are required to renew their certification every three years by completing 30 units of professional development work and submitting a $150 recertification fee.
The CSDP examination consists of 180 multiple-choice questions gleaned from 11 topic areas, including software construction, maintenance, and quality. Exam questions are based on concepts that should be familiar to engineers with six or more years of experience.
CSDP examinations are administered by Prometric, which performs live, computer-based testing at hundreds of locations throughout the world. In addition to the 31 new test sites, the CSDP exam is offered at locations in Asia, Europe, India, North America, and South America.
Special prep course and testing opportunities
The IEEE Computer Society provides several opportunities to prepare for the CSDP exam. In addition to recommended books and online coursework, CSDP organizers have arranged for instructor-led tutorials in the coming months. Candidates can participate in a CSDP training class at the 2005 Systems and Software Technology Conference (SSTC) in Salt Lake City. Conducting the course, set for 16-18 April, will be author Richard Thayer, the original developer of training materials for the CSDP. Following Thayer's onsite course, IEEE Computer Society officials will administer a CSDP examination at SSTC on 22 April. The prep course and exam are priced at $300 each for conference registrants. To take the CSDP exam at SSTC, first register for the conference at, then complete and submit the CSDP application form by 7 April.
Thayer will also lead a three-day version of the course on three separate occasions: 21-23 March in Los Angeles; 30 March–1 April in San Francisco; and 5-7 April in Portland, Oregon. Fees for the West Coast courses are $995, with a guaranteed pass-or-don't-pay refund policy. See for details.
For software engineers in other parts of the world, the Computer Society also offers a CSDP training course called Software Engineering Overview in the Distance Learning Campus. The course, available to members for $395 at DistanceLearning, provides a comprehensive review of essential software engineering principles.
Applications for the Spring 2005 testing window, which is open from 1 April to 30 June, are due by 15 April. For the Fall 2005 testing window, which is open from 1 September to 30 November, applications are due by 1 September. CSDP application and examination fees are $450 for IEEE or Computer Society members and $550 for nonmembers. Recent federal action has classified CSDP testing fees as reimbursable to veterans under the GI Bill.
Two to three weeks after an application is accepted, approved candidates will be mailed an authorization to test. Candidates must receive the authorization before scheduling an appointment to take the exam. Further application information is available at
CSIDC 2005 selects contestants
Student teams from undergraduate institutions around the world have begun the battle for a top slot at the June 2005 Computer Society International Design Competition Finals in Washington, D.C.
Since 2000, CSIDC's first year, the number of participating teams has continued to expand due to increasing international interest and to a simplified contest structure. This year's competition attracted 300 entries from more than 100 institutions. University of Teesside professor Alan Clements has chaired CSIDC since 2001.
Currently, teams operate under a $400 spending limit that serves to discourage the use of sophisticated system peripherals.
Teams competing in CSIDC use a PC, laptop, handheld computer, or other off-the-shelf device combined with additional low-cost hardware and software to create a computer-based solution to a real-world problem. A primary goal of the competition is to encourage student teams to create projects that perform a socially useful function.
CSIDC 2004 winner, Poland's Poznan University of Technology, met last year's challenge of "Making the World a Safer Place" by creating "Lifetch," a GPS-based wilderness tracking and rescue system. Teams from Poznan University have finished in the top three at all but one of the past four CSIDC events, including a first-place finish in 2001.
The theme of CSIDC 2005 is "Going Beyond the Boundaries." Contest organizers encourage innovative entries that have real-world applications extending well beyond the confines of digital technology.
Teams taking part in this year's competition are listed in the " CSIDC Participating Teams for 2005 " sidebar. A change in the rules for this year's event has opened the competition to allow teams to recruit one member from a discipline outside computing.
Early in the year, CSIDC teams are required to submit an interim report on their projects. A team of judges evaluates the interim reports and invites the most promising teams to submit a final report that details the project in its completed form. Because only one team from any institution can submit a final report, colleges or universities with more than one team in play must devise internal methods of determining which team will represent the school. After reviewing the final reports, CSIDC officials will announce the top 10 projects on 24 May, inviting four members from each of the 10 teams, along with their faculty mentors, to participate in the 27-29 June CSIDC 2005 World Finals in Washington, D.C.
At the CSIDC World Finals, teams demonstrate their projects in formal multimedia presentations and interactive Q&A sessions. Judges review the finalists' entries for originality, technical excellence, social usefulness, evidence of teamwork, feasibility and practicality, system integrity, and quality, including the caliber of presentation materials and delivery.
Changes to the 2005 competition have allocated more prize money to the top 10 finalists. Members of the first-place team at the CSIDC World Finals will split a $20,000 cash prize. Members of the second- and third-place teams will divide $15,000 and $10,000 prizes, respectively. Each of the remaining seven teams receives an honorable mention and a $2,500 shared prize. All finalists also receive a complimentary one-year individual subscription to any IEEE Computer Society magazine.
In addition to the main awards, teams who place in the top 10 at CSIDC 2005 will be eligible for two special prizes. The $3,000 Microsoft Multimedia Award goes to the team whose presentation makes the most interesting, innovative, exciting, and appropriate use of multimedia. The $3,000 Microsoft Award for Software Engineering recognizes the project that best exemplifies the application of good software engineering principles to the design and testing of a device prototype.
CSIDC is sponsored by Microsoft. For more information on CSIDC, visit
Three award nominations due by 31 July
The nearly two dozen honors granted each year by the IEEE Computer Society include three awards that recognize individuals and faculty groups for their outstanding contributions to computer science, engineering, and education.
In 1992, the Computer Society established the Sidney Fernbach Memorial Award to recognize individuals who have made notable strides in developing applications for high-performance computing. Sidney Fernbach was a pioneer in the use of high-performance computers for solving large computational problems. Nominations for the honor are evaluated by awards committees associated with the SC 2005 high-performance computing, networking, and storage conference. The Fernbach award winner receives a certificate of recognition and a $2,000 honorarium.
The Seymour Cray Computer Science and Engineering Award recognizes individuals whose innovative contributions to high-performance computing systems best reflect the creative spirit of supercomputing pioneer Seymour Cray. Recipients of the Cray Award receive a crystal memento, an illuminated certificate, and a $10,000 honorarium. Recent Cray honorees include John Hennessy, Monty Denneau, and Burton J. Smith. Winners of both the Cray and Fernbach awards accept their honors during a special ceremony at SC.
The Computer Society also awards the annual Undergraduate Teaching Award in Computer Science & Engineering to a professor or faculty group who demonstrate an enduring and significant commitment to undergraduate education through teaching and professional service. The award can also acknowledge efforts to increase the Society's visibility. Honorees receive a plaque and a $2,000 honorarium.
The IEEE Computer Society awards program recognizes technical achievements, contributions to engineering education, and service to the Society or the profession. Nominations for the Fernbach, Cray, and Undergraduate Teaching Awards are due by 31 July. Nominations for most other Society awards have a 31 October deadline. To obtain nomination materials for any IEEE Computer Society award, visit