Often, when I receive a request for a meeting on something that’s far outside of my usual BPM/Enterprise 2.0 interests, I’ll turn it down. However, when the meeting is with various deans and professors at Carnegie Mellon University West about their new Masters in Software Management program (press release here), I’m happy to make an exception. I graduated as an engineer over 20 years ago, and programs like this just weren’t available then; I was curious to see how engineering education has advanced. I had a call with Dr. Jim Morris, dean of the CMU west coast campus, Dr. Martin Griss, associate dean for education and director of the software engineering program, and Tony Wasserman, executive director of the Center for Open Source Investigation. Of course, they’re all professors at CMU as well, at the relatively new campus in Silicon Valley.
The Masters in Software Management is like a software engineering equivalent to an executive MBA: it’s intended for people who are already experienced practitioners but want to improve their management skills in a big way, and do so part-time while they continue to work so that they can start to see immediate application and benefit. It grew out of the high level of interest in the management courses offered as part of the Masters in Software Engineering program that’s been running since 2002, as well as interest from employers in the marketplace for the skills that they plan to teach. The Masters in Software Management is less technical than the Masters in Software Engineering, but offers some amazing courses that I think should work their way into any senior software engineering or computer science curriculum: open source, enterprise architecture, managing distributed teams, outsourcing, and many others. Since these are presented in a current business context, using long-running teams and simulating a small company experience, the goal is to produce the next generation of software leaders.
The program doesn’t kick off until later this year, so they don’t know the demographics of the student population yet, but are expecting that most will have a technical computer science/software engineering background, and that there will be a mix of those from small companies who want to improve their skills and build the next Google, and some from large companies who are either closet entrepreneurs or are serious about software management within their organization. About 1/3 of the Masters in Software Engineering program attendees are women, and they expect the percentage to be higher in the Software Management program. As in the Software Engineering program (where about 30% of the students are offsite), they’ll allow remote students, although they need to be onsite for the 4-day kickoff and a few more times during the 2-year program.