I will also be participating in the Requirements Engineering Education and Training (REET’12) workshop (co-located with RE’12) and presenting a paper that I really enjoyed writing with my long-term research colleague, Stephen Morris: Case-Based Stories for Traceability Education and Training, by Orlena Gotel and Stephen Morris. Here is the abstract and a taster of our scrumptious story.
Abstract. The purpose of this paper is to disseminate knowledge about proven techniques relevant to software and systems engineering, and in particular to requirements traceability, but derived from another industry and another professional approach. It describes the process of investigating and dealing with an outbreak of a foodborne disease, an established process that depends upon traceability practice at multiple levels and its alignment within two distinct disciplines. We tell a story based upon an outbreak investigation case study to step through the details of this process and to discuss parallels for the practice of traceability in the context of identifying and addressing requirements-borne problems. Not only is this process a model of industrial practice in these other two disciplines, the provision of case study materials based upon past events is also a model industrial practice that makes the details of the process widely accessible for education and training. This paper seeks to encourage the similar use of case studies in requirements engineering education and training, to develop realistically grounded stories that can be used to step through the investigation of a requirements-borne problem, and so to demonstrate and discuss the practice and value of requirements traceability at each step.
Back Story. Your presentation at the International Requirements Engineering Conference was a great success this year, but your flight home is interminable! You feel nauseous and your stomach is cramping. You have had to get up to use the lavatory multiple times and you do not like what you see. You begin to sweat and feel that you have the onset of a low grade fever. By the time you reach home, you are convinced that this is not your usual bout of traveler’s food poisoning. Twenty-four hours later and your stomach pains are severe. You are worried about all that blood you see and you are finding it difficult to quench your thirst. But, as there are still no alerts from your colleagues, you conclude that it must just be you. Researcher that you are, you make your own diagnosis from the web and rush to the doctor’s surgery. Back in the conference city, clinicians have just reported a 300% increase in laboratory reports of E. coli infection over the past month, as compared with the same month in previous years, with the bulk of the cases appearing over the last few days. The Department of Community Health immediately call their newly-appointed epidemiologist: “Dr. Epi, is this a foodborne disease outbreak? What should we do?” Dr. Epi is a recent graduate and this is the first time that she has been posed this question when she holds responsibility. She knows that there are standard ways to conduct an outbreak investigation, so she uses the step-by-step guide of the CDC as her plan, augmented by material from the World Health Organization and numerous course materials. With the mention of E. coli, Dr. Epi knows that she will have to undertake both an epidemiological and environmental (food) investigation in parallel, with the findings of the epidemiological investigation guiding the collection and testing of the environmental samples. The date is October 1st, 2012.