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Engineering Progress

Professor receives $90K grant from National Science Foundation for software engineering research

Maura Beth Pagano, ’12Engineering Progress

Assistant Professor Roshanak Roshandel will utilize a grant from the National Science Foundation to do extensive research in software architecture.

Chris Joseph Taylor

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Roshanak Roshandel and her team of student assistants are aiming to revolutionize the world of software engineering while forging meaningful bonds along the way.

An assistant professor of computer science and software engineering at Seattle University, Roshandel is an expert in the field of software architecture. She earned a doctorate and master’s degree in computer science from the University of Southern California, and began teaching SU in fall 2005. Highly respected in her field, Roshandel finds SU gives her the opportunity to connect with all kinds of individuals, no matter their course of study.

“I strive to be a multifaceted person, not just focused in my own narrow area of research, and try to seek out and interact with students and faculty across diverse disciplines,” she says.
Roshandel is the recent recipient of a $90,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The funding will allow the professor to conduct an innovative, yearlong research project in the field of software architecture.

“When [the National Science Foundation] sees research that looks promising, they want to help you get resources that might not otherwise be available to you,” says Roshandel.
Without the grant, Roshandel says that her team would have to base their research on preexisting research models. “Because we have the grant money, we can make our own case studies,” she says. “If we didn’t have it, we would have to rely on the examples that are already out there, which are often too simple and less accurate than an actual case study.”
To assist with the research Roshandel selected two undergraduate and two graduate students, who have played an important role in the process. “They are doing everything,” Roshandel says, with a laugh.  
The team’s goal is to build a technique for evaluating the dependability of software product families.

Currently, very little research exists on this topic. For all of us who haven’t brushed up on our software engineering jargon lately, Roshandel offers a simple analogy for understanding product families. “Take Toyota, for example,” says Roshandel. “They make many different models, but a lot of these models use the same parts and have similar design aspects. Software product families related in the same way.”
She continues, “What we want to do is come up with ways to assess the dependability—meaning the reliability, security, performance and availability—of these products.”

Because technology is so ubiquitous in today’s world, Roshandel says it is critical to gain an understanding of how to make software not only functional but also dependable.
The team has made significant strides with their research. Eventually, they hope to submit their findings to peer-reviewed conferences and journals. Lindsay Stetson, a student assistant studying for her bachelor’s in computer science, made a presentation based on the team’s research at the 24th National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Montana in April.

Zhen Yang, a team member working toward her master’s in software engineering, feels fortunate to be a member of the Roshandel’s research team.
“Dr. Roshandel is smart, knowledgeable and very patient,” says Yang. “I really enjoy the time I spend working with her.”

Loizos Markides, a student assistant who is also working toward his master’s in software engineering, says he appreciates Roshandel’s flexibility and patience as a team leader. 

Roshandel believes that the relationships she has built with her students during this research project are a testament to the richness of the Seattle University experience. “I find that SU nurtures such bonds and relationships, and in the process creates a very caring and loving family with a mission and vision that is second to none,” she says. “We have wonderful faculty and staff, great students and a true sense of community.”



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