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Computer Science Professor Awarded National Science Foundation Grant – Colorado College News

By Julia Fennell ’21
Janet Burge, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, has been awarded a $132,758 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Program.
The total grant of $599,994 was awarded to Burge and her collaborator, Andre van der Hoek, from the University of California, Irvine, for their upcoming empirical study of distributed, fragmented software design meetings. The study will analyze software design meetings to determine what common issues come up in the meetings and what is necessary to address the issues. The project will then design, implement, and make new tools and practices available to overcome the issues identified, according to the award abstract.
The National Science Foundation is a federal agency that works to promote the progress of science, secure national defense, and advance national health.
Burge says that the goal of the project is to study software design meetings to better understand how they can be more efficient.
“We’ll be working with industry partners to obtain recordings of design meetings that we will then analyze to understand how people work together to design software in our new climate of distributed online or hybrid teams,” says Burge. “We’re especially interested in figuring out ways to capture important design bits (IDBS) — short snippets of information about the design that may be useful in future meetings.”
Burge began working with van der Hoek during her Spring 2020 sabbatical at the University of California, Irvine.
“Having a COVID lock-down in the middle of my sabbatical wasn’t part of our plan, but we were able to keep working on this and other projects despite everything, and we are really excited that the NSF will be supporting our work,” says Burge. “In addition to having students help us build new tools to better support meetings, we also hope to have them using these tools in the classroom, especially on their team capstone projects.”
This project fits in well with previous research Burge has done, most of which is on the topic of design rationale, which are reasons behind decisions made while designing.
“The project also has implications to supporting meetings beyond software design — nearly everyone has to attend meetings as part of their work and would like to make sure that time is being used effectively. Understanding what information is important to have on-hand as well as in the future can help us meet that goal,” says Burge.
Colorado College students, as well as University of California, Irvine graduate and undergraduate students, will assist Burge and van der Hoek in their work, and will be supported by the grant.
Burge and van der Hoek have already published one paper, where they analyzed an initial set of meetings.
Click here for more information on Burge’s research.
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