Western's Software Engineering Program celebrates 10 years

What were you doing ten years ago today?

Watching Harry Potter for the first time or perhaps Ocean’s Eleven? Listening to Robbie Williams or Dido on your brand new MP3 player?

At Western, we were celebrating the success of our first graduates from the Software Engineering program.

“The first graduating class consisted of eight undergraduate engineering students,” says Western Engineering’s current director of Software Engineering, Luiz Fernando Capretz. “Today, our graduates are working at senior level positions for companies such as Google, Microsoft, RIM, and Cancer Care Ontario, just to name a few. Many have become entrepreneurs, starting their own companies.”

The Faculty of Engineering at The University of Western Ontario was among the first three schools in Canada to officially launch an undergraduate Software Engineering program in 1999. McMaster University and the University of Ottawa also launched a program at the same time.

The first group of students from our program, within the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, graduated in 2001 – the same year the program was accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board.

“Our program has really evolved over the years,” explains Capretz. “We now offer combined degree programs with Western’s other professional schools, such as Ivey and Law, and we also offer our students program options in embedded systems and health informatics.”

Currently, the program has 49 students enrolled in second year. This is the largest class size to date. The program however has seen its ups and downs in enrolment over the years.

“Enrolment started out strong in its early days,” says Capretz. “At the beginning of the program we saw numbers in the thirties. Unfortunately, due to the IT bubble bust in early 2000, numbers dropped to the twenties in later years.”

Capretz and his colleagues are happy to see the trends are changing again in great part due to excellent career prospects for software engineers and the popularity of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, smart phones and computer games.

“The high-tech job market is booming right now,” Capretz further explains. “There are more job opportunities out there than there are graduates.”

One current Software Engineering student taking advantage of these opportunities is Bart Mika who dedicated his entire summer between third and fourth year to developing an iPhone/iPod Touch game called, The Orbital Hive.

“I’ve been playing games ever since the early ‘90s and it felt like now was the time to experience what it’s like to actually make them,” explains Mika. “Entrepreneurship also seemed like an exciting, yet intimidating, alternative for a dull summer job.”

To start developing his first video game of his career, Mika launched a company called Eurasiasoft. Under this company name, he spent all of last summer developing The Orbital Hive, which has been released worldwide since September 2010.

“Making a video game was both an incredible and overwhelming experience and one that has still left me reflecting and trying to make sense of everything I learned,” explains Mika. “It was a wonderful but tough experience. The most rewarding part has definitely been seeing people play my game.”

The Orbital Hive is currently available on the iTunes App Store. You can read more about Mika’s experience on his blog.

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.: Allison Stevenson
Spencer Engineering Building, Room 2074
T: .519.850.2917
F: 519.661.3808