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Issue No. 03 - March (2006 vol. 39)
ISSN: 0018-9162
pp: 67-70

Student teams from colleges and universities around the world are battling for a coveted top 10 berth at the June 2006 Computer Society International Design Competition Finals in Washington, D.C. Truly international in scope, CSIDC now draws nearly 150 entries from institutions located in more than 50 countries, up from fewer than 50 entries in 2000, the competition's first year.
Contest organizers stress the importance of teamwork to success. Said CSIDC 2006 Chair Alan Clements of the UK's University of Teesside, "CSIDC magnifies the creativity of a group of students by enabling them to get the best out of each other by working intensively as a group for several months. By the end of the project, most of the successful teams in CSIDC are astonished by how much they have achieved."
Teams competing in CSIDC use a PC, laptop, handheld computer, or similar device and apply additional low-cost hardware/software to create a computer-based solution to a real-world problem. The theme of CSIDC 2006 is "Preserving, Protecting, and Enhancing the Environment." North Carolina State University, the winner of CSIDC 2005, met last year's challenge of "Going Beyond the Boundaries" by creating NEAT: Networks for Endangered Animal Tracking, a GPS-based wireless sensor system dedicated to more effective wildlife management.
CSIDC teams work over the course of an academic year to build their systems, following a process that mimics the evolution of a real commercial product. By mid-January, each team is required to supply a working title for its project. By mid-February, each team must submit an interim report to a panel of volunteer CSIDC judges. Judges from academia and industry evaluate the reports for adherence to contest rules and for competitive viability. Selected teams will be invited to prepare a final report by 16 April.
After reviewing the final reports, CSIDC officials will announce the top 10 projects on 14 May, inviting four members from each of the 10 teams and their faculty mentors to participate in the 30 June to 2 July CSIDC 2006 World Finals in Washington, D.C.
At the CSIDC World Finals, teams demonstrate their projects in a live, interactive judging session, as well as in a formal multimedia presentation. Judges review the finalists' entries for originality, social usefulness, technical excellence, feasibility and practicality, evidence of teamwork, system integrity, and overall quality, including the caliber of presentation materials and delivery.
The first-place finishers at CSIDC World Finals will split a $20,000 cash prize. Members of the second- and third-place teams will share $15,000 and $10,000 cash prizes, respectively. The remaining seven teams will each receive an honorable mention and $2,500.
In addition to the main awards, teams that place in the top 10 at CSIDC 2006 will be eligible for two $3,000 special prizes. The 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. The Microsoft Multimedia Award goes to the team whose presentation makes the most interesting, innovative, exciting, and appropriate use of multimedia.
CSIDC is in the final year of a three-year, $1 million sponsorship agreement with Microsoft, and teams participating in the Microsoft Windows Embedded Student Challenge can register for CSIDC as well.
CSDP Expands to Testing Sites Worldwide
The IEEE Computer Society Certified Software Development Professional program is expanding to exam administration centers in 134 countries around the globe. The CSDP certification program is unique in the software engineering field, offering benefits that range from exposure to recent advances in engineering theory to gains in employment distinction and career opportunities.
CSDP Exam Highlights
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 having expertise in that particular environment.
Other technical certification programs are often driven by project- or occupation-specific requirements. In contrast, the IEEE Computer Society has recognized the need for a broad, objective certification program that acknowledges a level of advanced skill in all facets of software development.
The CSDP examination consists of 180 multiple-choice questions gleaned from 11 topic areas, including software construction, software maintenance, and software quality. Exam questions are based on concepts that should be familiar to software engineers with six or more years of professional experience.
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 to test. 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.
For candidates who would like additional preparation prior to taking the exam, the Computer Society also offers a CSDP training course, Software Engineering Overview, in its Distance Learning Campus. The course, available to members for $395 at, provides a comprehensive review of essential software engineering principles.
Apply to Test
Applications for the spring 2006 testing window, which is open from 1 April to 30 June, are due by 1 April. For the fall 2006 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 reimbursible to veterans under the GI Bill.
CSDP examinations are administered by Prometric, which performs live, computer-based testing at hundreds of locations throughout the world.
Further application information is available at
Cray, Fernbach, and Undergraduate Teaching Award Nominations Due by 31 July
Each fall, the IEEE Computer Society grants three prestigious awards that recognize individuals and faculty groups for making outstanding contributions to computer science, engineering, and education.
Supercomputing pioneer Seymour Cray is legendary for his unconventional approach to problem solving. The IEEE Computer Society Seymour Cray Computer Science and Engineering Award recognizes individuals whose innovative contributions to high-performance computing systems best reflect Cray's creative spirit. Recipients of the Cray Award also receive a crystal memento, an illuminated certificate, and a $10,000 honorarium.
Sidney Fernbach was a pioneer in the use of high-performance computers for solving large computational problems. 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. Nominations for the honor are evaluated by awards committees associated with SC 2006. The Fernbach award winner receives a certificate of recognition and a $2,000 honorarium.
Winners of both the Cray and Fernbach awards will accept their honors during a special awards ceremony at the SC 2006 supercomputing conference.
The Computer Society also awards the annual Undergraduate Teaching Award in Computer Science & Engineering to a professor or group of professors who demonstrate an enduring and significant commitment to undergraduate education through teaching and professional service. The award can also acknowledge efforts by professors to increase the Society's visibility. Honorees receive a plaque and a $2,000 honorarium.
Computer Society awards recognize 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
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