Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)



Dr. Joseph Turner, Internationally Awarded Authority in Computer Science and Education, Fellow ACM/ABET/CSAB, Chair of the Seoul Accord, Vice-President and Chair of the Publications Committee of IFIP, and Team Chair for ABET Computing Accreditation Evaluations

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Dr. Joseph Turner.

Dr. Joseph TurnerDr. Joseph Turner currently serves as Chair of the Seoul Accord, an international organization for the mutual recognition of accreditation agencies for computing programs. His current activities also include serving as a Vice-President and Chair of the Publications Committee of IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing), and Team Chair for ABET (the US accrediting agency for programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology) computing accreditation evaluations. He has previously served as Vice-President of the ACM, President of the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB), Chairman of the ACM Education Board, and as a member of the Boards of Directors of the Computing Research Association, the National Educational Computing Association, and the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors. He has served more than 20 times as a consultant and on evaluation teams for computer science programs at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels both for individual institutions and for state agencies, and has chaired more than 25 accreditation evaluation teams.

Joe received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Maryland in 1976. He also received BS and MS degrees in Applied Mathematics from Georgia Tech in 1961 and 1966, respectively. He joined Clemson University in 1975 as Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences, served as Head of the Department of Computer Science from 1978 to 1992, and retired as Professor of Computer Science in 2000. He also served as Professor of Information Systems from 2001 to 2003, and as Dean of the College of Information Systems from 2003 to 2004 at Zayed University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Joe's honors include the ACM Outstanding Contribution Award and the ACM SIGCSE Award for Lifetime Service. He is a Fellow of the ACM, ABET, and CSAB.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:38: Some time has passed since we last talked. Can you share your impressions of the last two IFIP World Computing Congresses?
"....It's clear that the traditional IFIP model of having large international general conferences to attract a lot of people doesn't work that well anymore and that's been fairly clear for a number of years....The conferences are not going to be successful unless they have help in place where there is very high participation from the host country...."

:03:53: You mention a flagship event — the World CIO Forum which was held in November 2011 worked fairly well with around 800 CIOs from around the world attending. Are there plans to have another world CIO conference perhaps next year or the year after?
"....The next CIO forum is scheduled again in China and there's good support in China for that event, so it undoubtedly will also be successful. Hopefully we'll be able to build on the results of the previous conference...."

:07:11: Where do you see IFIP heading in a few years?
"....The total budget from IFIP is not very large so there's not a lot of money to invest in major activities. For some time now, IFIP's focus is trying more or less to be a facilitator or coordinator internationally (originally there was a lot of activity around the World Computer Conference which was pretty big at one point, but since then it's been on a much smaller scale). A sort of apolitical international body that could speak for the computing profession internationally...."

:11:04: What are your thoughts on the Software Engineering PE exam (Principles and Practice Exam) being finalized and a critical mass achieved with ten US states in support? What are your thoughts about the future of software engineering and how it's going to progress?
"....It remains to be seen where it's all going to go. Overall it's a good thing to be thinking about and asking whether or not we need something like this. There's no doubt that there needs to be more discipline especially on the software side of computing and professional activities. We now know a lot about good practices and appropriate practices and levels of rigor that should be applied, Codes of Conduct, ethical and professional...."

:17:08: How is your work progressing in Accreditations?
"....It's progressing very well and I'm involved with 2 organizations that are very much involved in accreditation. ABET, which is the US organization for accreditation for academic programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology. The Seoul Accord is a mutual recognition agreement among several international accreditation organizations (similar to ABET in different countries)....ABET has seen a huge increase in interest recently from outside the United States....Some members of the Seoul Accord are experiencing some of the same kinds of increase in requests or interest from programs not just in developing countries, but any country that doesn't have its own accreditation organization...."

:22:34: You mentioned the Seoul Accord and talked about what's happening with some of the members of the Seoul Accord. Do you see some rapid expansion among some of the members of the Seoul Accord within the next five years?
"....We would hope so. The Seoul Accord is a mutual recognition agreement and the agreement basically says that all of the members of the Seoul Accord have examined the requirements and the processes of the other members and all members agree to promote the accreditation processes of the other members as being substantially equivalent to their own in terms of preparing the graduates of accredited programs as entry-level professionals....Right now the Seoul Accord has eight members, but we are only 4 years or so old. We do have about 8 more organizations that have expressed intent to eventually become a member...."

:26:12: Can you name some of the countries involved?
"....The countries that are currently represented are Canada, the UK, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the United States.... "

:34:20: From your perspective, what do you feel is noteworthy in education today and into the future?
"....This may apply more to computing education which is what I'm most familiar with, but without a doubt the biggest hot topic today is the so-called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The whole issue of online versus what might be called a more traditional brick and mortar kind of education is a very big topic though it's been a clear trend for many years now, and somehow seems to have exploded for the past 2 to 3 years with these Massive Online courses that anybody can take....The key is to find ways to use these capabilities that technology enables and to use them in the most effective way. That's not any different than finding ways to most effectively use the classroom setting.... "

:48:08: Can you share your thoughts on the ACM? You've been a long and strong contributor to this predominant Society.
"....The ACM is doing very well. The membership is growing. There are many strong, major conferences in various areas, a highly respected and successful digital library for computing literature and many prestigious journals. The branches in Europe, India and China are growing and developing very well and the membership I think is up 40 percent outside North America now. The ACM has become a prominent, major international organization for computing professionals...."

:51:53: What are your views on IFIP IP3 which is working to have computing as a recognized profession on par with accounting, medicine and law with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials?
"....I think what IP3 is trying to do is great, however it's a very difficult task to undertake and I think we have to be patient and recognize that it is going to take some time. Hopefully more and more of the large software-oriented industries will get onboard and promote and support these kinds of efforts and perhaps more organizations as well. It takes a long time to establish a profession, but it's important work and it's important that we stay the course and continue working on that...."

:54:52: Joe, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.