Lancaster involved in major software engineering project

The project will put people at the heart of software development

Researchers from Lancaster University are working with the Open University on a £1M project to change the culture of software engineering.

The socio-technical resilience in software development project, known as STRIDE, is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

It will challenge the focus of software engineering on automation and new technologies, to put people at the heart of software development.

STRIDE brings together engineering and social psychology to evaluate the human experience and the ability to adapt to change in the software engineering sector.

Professor Mark Levine of Lancaster University, said: “The Lancaster Social Psychology group are delighted to be able to continue this collaboration with The Open University. Lancaster is at the cutting edge of research at the intersection of social psychology and new technologies and is excited to explore the psychological implications of automation and resilience in the process of software development.”

STRIDE will look to identify current practice and help people working in software engineering to decide when to use automation over human intervention. To that end, the team will use their research findings to develop toolkits that help determine what to automate.

Software production is increasingly becoming automated, for example through development environments. This project focuses on how software systems can be made more resilient to change and how organisations can become more resilient to loss of expertise, by examining the relationship between tools that automate tasks and the work of software developers. 

Over the course of the three-year project, STRIDE researchers will conduct workplace studies on two key groups: commercial developers, software engineers who work in corporate industries such as insurance and banking developing apps and new technology, and research software engineers, who are scientists by profession but develop software to support research.

The multidisciplinary team will assess each group’s ability to adapt to change during the workplace studies and identify resilience markers, a method for overcoming a problem or limitation in a program or system. The team will also draw on insights from social psychology to understand the human components of software development. Insights gained from workplace studies and experimentation will be prototyped through an existing tool that helps developers to detect errors in software code.

Advocacy of software engineering is a key element of the project and, as such, the team plan to engage with EPSRC communities and the wider public.

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