Volume 91, Issue 83

Friday, March 6, 1998

100 bottles of beer


Senate plays 'geers name game

By Brendan Howe
Gazette Staff

While Memorial University in Newfoundland is being sued for using the word 'engineering' in one of their programs, Western has decided to start a new program here with the same name.

At a Feb. 20 meeting, Senate voted in favour of a new program, a bachelor of science degree with a specialization in software engineering, to be launched in September 1998. The program originally had not been passed in a meeting last December and was sent back to the Senate Committee of Academic Planning and Admissions.

Questions in Senate arose over the fact that Memorial was being sued for allegedly violating a patent of the word 'engineer' by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland. The CCPE and the APEGN believe the name of the program is misleading to the public.

Peter Mercer, VP-administration and general counsel for Western, said the university could not stop someone from bringing a lawsuit against it but in the situation of Memorial he does not believe the CCPE has a strong case.

"In my view there's a sound position legally that we can use the term 'software engineering' without infringing any interest held by the [CCPE]," he said. He added 'software engineering' is a phrase which has been used for 25 years.

Dan Levert, president of CCPE, said the matter is in the courts and would not comment on either the Memorial or Western situations.

Western dean of engineering Mohan Mathur was one of the main opponents to the name of the new program. "In my judgement, there is no engineering in software engineering."

He suggested the program could be called 'software systems design' or 'engineering software systems' and he would be satisfied. He acknowledged the words 'software engineering' will only appear in a student's transcript but said this could still mislead the public.

Yong Kang, dean of science, said the name is internationally recognized. "Society understands exactly what it means." He added people might not understand the program if its name was changed to something other than 'software engineering.'

If Memorial loses the lawsuit the university may have to reconsider the name, Kang said. Mercer said if this happened Western would wait for the result of an appeal if Memorial launched one.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998