A Profession of Software Engineering, Is There a Need? YES. Are We Ready? NO.

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Abstract or Description

Software is increasingly critical to the successful operation of real systems, including not only life-critical control systems but also ordinary communication and commerce. There is little question that unreliable poorly-designed, or undelivered software can cause these systems to fail. Since software is a technological product, it is fair to conclude the society needs a professional level of engineering for the design and development of software products. The question "should there be a profession of software engineering" is often asked in the form "isn"t it time we started licensing software engineers through the usual mechanisms of professional engineering registration?" The purpose of professional engineering registration is to protect the public by providing some external assurance that a particular engineer will produce safe systems; by signing off on a project, the engineer assumes personal responsibility. The level of performance required for this assurance isn"t "the best we can do now;" it"s "good enough." Unfortunately, we don"t yet have an engineering that meets this standard.