Mark Arrieta
Software Automation and Intelligence Laboratory
Computer Science Department
Tennessee Technological University
Cookeville TN 38505


Srini Ramaswamy
Associate Professor and Chair
Computer Science Department
Tennessee Technological University
Cookeville TN 38505
Phone: (931)-372-3691

I.A. Relevant NSF CERIAS Workshop Learning Objective:IC-1b, 1c; SP-1

Steven Archer is now in his second semester as a computer science graduate student. After earning his Bachelor's degree seven years ago, he was hired by Blackstone Defense Contractors, for whom he spent five years working. While at Blackstone, he worked as both a testing and systems programmer, and later served as a software engineer. Although he found his work environment to be pleasant, and was fond of his coworkers, he did not find the work to be particularly satisfying. He eventually left Blackstone to pursue other types of work in the industry. He accepted an opportunity to work for a large company on the east coast as a system administrator, but he ultimately found this position to be equally unfulfilling, and his time there was short lived. Archer had failed to find his place in the industry and decided that he would pursue his original interest: teaching. He applied for both admission into the graduate program and an assistantship at his alma mater. He was granted both.

As part of his research commitment, Archer had been assigned to work with Dr. Anne Hartford in his first semester. Dr. Hartford, whose research concentration is in the field of Numerical Analysis, finished her doctoral work just four years earlier. Since that time, she has been actively expanding the research that she had conducted as a student. Archer's primary responsibility in assisting Dr. Hartford involved note and draft revisions from previous works compiled by Hartford. For Archer, his first experience as an academic researcher was very rewarding. His collaboration with Dr. Hartford came to a successful conclusion with the journal publication of their research work. In recognition of his service, Dr. Hartford submitted Archer's name as a coauthor of the publication.

That same semester, the Computer Science Department had been conducting a faculty search. The department had been understaffed since two of its longest serving professors had retired within the past year. After interviewing ten candidates, the search committee unanimously decided to offer one of the positions to Dr. Isaac Parker. Although several of the candidates were actively searching for employment from a number of institutions, Dr. Parker had no interest in working at any other university. Both he and his wife had grown-up in the area, and they were hoping to return home to assist his mother in caring for his father who had recently become ill. Dr. Parker seemed to be a perfect fit for the department. His main area of study is in Computation Theory and Algorithm Analysis. Faculty members believed that his expertise in these fields should fill a void in the department that was created with Dr. Radnor's recent retirement.

After the completion of his first research assignment, Archer was informed that his second research assignment would be to assist the department's newest faculty member, Dr. Parker. For years, Parker has been conducting research in the study of Natural Language Processing, and, upon his hiring, expressed his desire to produce research on this topic. His intentions were to develop a web-based application, in which he would integrate language translation theories that he had developed. He had invested a great deal time in the design of his project, but had been unable to commit to the amount of time necessary to transform his work into an actual software application. Additionally, Dr. Parker lacked the web programming experience that would be necessary to make his application secure and accessible over the Internet. When Dr. Parker initially spoke to Archer about the details of the research project, he expressed his intentions of presenting the application at a technology conference that was to be held at the end of the semester. He further explained that he anticipated the project to take several semesters to develop, and that he was only interested in completing the first phase of the project before the upcoming conference.

For Archer, the first phase of the project, which lasted the entire semester, went very well. Dr. Parker had provided a very well thought out project design, and with few exceptions, coding the project had been straightforward. Once Archer had finished writing the first version of the project, he and Dr. Parker spent about two weeks testing and revising the code, as well as discussing, in detail, the structure of the program. Archer made certain that Dr. Parker had a full understanding of how each program module had been developed and the underlying architecture upon which these modules were integrated. The state of the project was now sufficient for the conference presentation.

When Dr. Parker was making preparations to attend the conference, he learned that adequate funds were not available for both he and Archer to attend. When Archer was subsequently informed that he would not be able to attend the conference with Dr. Parker, he was understandably disappointed. He became further troubled when, while reviewing the paper that Dr. Parker had submitted to the conference committee, he realized that his name did not appear anywhere on the literature. He felt that his contribution to the project had been significant, and he should be given some recognition for his efforts.

I.B. Discussion Questions:

  1. Should Dr. Parker have informed Archer at the start of the project that he (Archer) would probably not be recognized for his participation in the project?
  2. Should Archer confront Dr. Parker?