Enrollment Explosion Leads to First TA for Senior Projects

05-11-2015
Writer(s): Jesica E. Hollinger

The population in CS 49000 SEP is exploding – just like the overall enrollment in Purdue Computer Science.Alina Nesen

Also known as the Software Engineering Senior Project, the course is led by Professor H.E. (Buster) Dunsmore – a requirement for every student in the Software Engineering Track.

Dunsmore has been responsible for this course since it was initially offered and has never had a teaching assistant. This semester broke enrollment records, growing to 61 students who formed 15 teams in the class. Already, 59 students are registered for Fall 2015.

Dunsmore indicated that the sheer number of students would have been unmanageable without his Project Coordinator Alina Nesen, a graduate student who worked as a software engineer in the Ukraine for Ciklum from 2010 to 2014. She also did extensive software development for 20/20 vision, before coming to Purdue.

“Alina has actually used everything that I have taught our students (version control, Agile, Scrum, Sprints, standup meetings) as a professional software engineer,” Dunsmore said. “This semester she guided each team in a way that no college professor could ever do,” he added.

Nesen grew up in the city of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, which was known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) at the time of her birth. The city is located in the center of Ukraine and has more than one million inhabitants.  It is widely known for its manufacture of rockets, satellites and missiles. The unstable regions of Donetsk and Luhansk lie a few hours to the East.

Alina was educated at Dnepropetrovsk National University, earning her degree from the Applied Mathematics Department. She worked at the National Mining University and taught undergrad courses in programming languages, data structures, and computer graphics at the Department of Information Technologies.

Nesen worked in different IT companies in Dnepropetrovsk, spending the last four years as a Quality Assurance Team Leader in Ciklum, where she helped develop software for a company in the Netherlands. She gained experience with the complete software development life cycle, using the Agile process that is used in CS 30700 and the Software Engineering Senior Project class.

Nesen explained that she decided to earn her PhD, because she wanted to extend her knowledge in the computer science field.

“I really wanted to become a professional in my field of expertise and contribute to computer science research,” Nesen said. “I was an exchange student in my high school senior year, so this country was not new to me, which is why I applied to American universities,” she added.

She said she chose Purdue because of its excellent reputation and small-town feel.

“I knew Purdue was an excellent school, but I also was hoping to live in a smaller town with a friendly community,” Nesen said. “I had some friends at Purdue who shared their experience and gave me confidence that this would be the right choice for me and my daughter,” she added.

Nesen’s first semester at Purdue was last August.  She commented on how fast and easy it is to make friends in West Lafayette.

“I have met so many nice people everywhere: at classes, in the university, at my daughter's school, at the church, and through the International Friendship program,” Nesen said.

She admitted that she is torn between industry and academia after she leaves Purdue.

“I was quite happy for many years, and hope to find a position that will allow me to work in the avant-garde of computer science and software development,” Nesen said. “But I also really like working with the students, too, so I may decide to work in academia instead.”