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Calling Christian Software Engineers
March 3, 2006

Patrick Bailey, a professor at Calvin, plans to investigate the ways in which the Christian faith might influence software engineers, especially how they develop software.

He hopes to survey some 200 professional software engineers and ask them a variety of questions about their work and their faith. He will present his findings at a conference for Christian software engineers at Calvin to be held October 25 (the conference is in conjunction with a conference by the American Society for Quality).

Bailey came to Calvin a year ago and teaches classes for Calvin's new bachelor of arts degree in information systems.

He worked for many years in industry before returning to the classroom himself to earn a master's degree in information systems from Grand Valley State University.

He says the upcoming study will be a benefit to him as a teacher and to his students.

"What I observed during my 20 years in industry," he says, "aligns with observations by several leading experts in software engineering. They believe there is a link between the attitude and general discipline of a software engineer and the quality of the work produced. Also, most people recognize that quality is one of the primary reasons we see jobs going overseas. I would like to extend the concept of attitude to issues of faith. I'm eager to see what the connection might be and to in turn share that with my students."

Bailey says that the new degree at Calvin in information systems focuses on the value of information technology and how to deliver it to consumers of information.

"We have a broad set of requirements for the major," he says. "We're putting emphasis on technical leadership and that's a huge order to fill because it requires technical competence, business savvy and strong interpersonal communication skills all in one person. A lot of students, and their parents, get worried when they read about programming jobs moving offshore, even though a lot of times those stories are overblown.

"What most employers will tell you is that is that they will always value the person who understands the business they're in and knows how to make the technology work for that business. While there are no guarantees in life, it's good to remember that there is something more significant and very beautiful going on every day, and that's why I think the question of faith in the workplace needs to be explored as part of the big picture for future software engineers."