The Consortium for Software Engineering Research (CSER) is an industry directed research program involving industrial members, University investigators and researchers from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), with financial support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Industrial involvement is central to the concept requiring direct participation in research projects as well as financial support for University investigators.

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History
The Consortium for Software Engineering Research (CSER), a not-for-profit corporation, was established in 1996 with funding from NSERC and strong support from the software engineering industrial sector. In the years since its inception, CSER has been recognized for its significant contributions to the Canadian software industry and to software engineering knowledge. As well, CSER has played a major role in the creation and improvement of software engineering programs in Canadian Universities.
The founding members recognized an urgent need for improved software engineering practice. Not only did they face a shortage of qualified practitioners, they felt that there was a lack of appreciation among the academic community as to the critical research challenges in software engineering. Consequently the two goals of CSER were to undertake collaborative research with university investigators into critical industrial problems and to raise the profile of software engineering technology in the university curriculum. Evaluation of the research projects included performance measures related to student participation and to new course material introduced as a result of CSER experience.
CSER’s success stems from the high quality of its research program and the active participation of its members who, in addition to providing funding, participate in the definition of the research project and remain involved to provide ongoing guidance. The success of the CSER approach has been recognized by the prestigious award of the 2000 NSERC Leo Derikx Synergy Award bestowed for “an innovative model of long-lasting university-industry interaction in a pre-competitive realm that has benefited the general well-being of an industry”.
The results of early CSER work has been collected in a book entitled “Advances in Software Engineering” Springer Verlag ISBN 0-387-95109-1, 2001 as well as being reported in more than 300 technical papers. CSER university investigators are heavily involved in the creation and advancement of software engineering programs. More than 20 courses have been created or significantly modified as a result of CSER experience. Five former students in the CSER research program who have become university professors, are now current principal investigators.

The Challenges

  • Undertake collaborative research with university investigators into critical industrial problems in software engineering raise the profile of software engineering technology in the university curriculum.
  • Promote "best practices" among software engineering practitioners.
The Way it Works
Industry takes the lead in defining the research program and opens its development environments and proprietary software to the academic researchers.
University investigators and their students collaborate closely with industry and NRC researchers, often at the company location and always fully aware of the industrial context.
NRC provides technical coordination and hosts visiting workers who are participating in the consortium's research program. NRC will also provide financial support to CSER university investigators and students working at its laboratories.
CSER is managed by a five member Board of Directors, three of whom, including the Chair, are from industry. Two senior academic appointees represent the university community. The Board is responsible for resource allocation. CSER research projects are organized by themes and a Theme Steering Committee manages technical development and evolution of theme projects.