CUSEC software conference gets techies talking 

By Russ Cooper

A large screen broadcasted the CUSEC Twitter feed in real time to the delegates assembled for the conference’s keynote speeches. Magnifying glass

A large screen broadcasted the CUSEC Twitter feed in real time to the delegates assembled for the conference’s keynote speeches.

It’s been 10 years since a few Concordia engineering students took it upon themselves to start their own software conference. It took a couple of years to get it off the ground (see Journal, Jan. 26, 2006), but the Canadian University Software Engineering Conference (CUSEC) has long since shaken its neophyte nerves and become a program unto itself.

Held Jan. 21 to 23 at the Omni Hotel on Sherbrooke St. West, over 350 delegates from across the country attended the event, which boasted acclaimed speakers and innovative demonstrations.

CUSEC founder John Kopanas was thrilled with the turnout. “Every year, I’m amazed that we manage to put together such an amazing conference. I only hope CUSEC continues to grow through the next decade,” he said warmly, having just taken in an inspirational lecture by renowned blogger and software programmer extraordinaire Reg Braithwaite.

Days before the conference, Twitter was all a buzz (a-tweet?) as conference goers were gearing up for the show. During the conference, the tweeting only got louder. Following the Friday talk from University of Toronto computer science professor Greg Wilson, the twittersphere was flapping with praise from the audience for his address.

Wilson, who spoke at CUSEC 2005, is the editor of the book The Beautiful Code, operates a popular software blog named The Third Bit, and leads a Canada-wide open-source project for students.

Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering served as two of the conference’s main sponsors – a role they’ve filled since the conference began. Other sponsors included IBM, RIM, Telus, Direct Energy, SAP, NexJ Systems and Microsoft.

Kopanas cites CUSEC’s continued success as a result of the volunteers running everything behind the scenes. This year’s team was lead by co-chairs Andrew Louis and Juan Musleh, who had a support crew of students from around Quebec and Ontario.

Sven James, a fifth-year computer science student who served as CUSEC’s co-director of sponsorship, said he loved the experience. “It’s awesome to see all these students from around the country coming together to learn more about what they’re studying.”

This year, the theme was GOTO 10, examining the ways engineers find themselves returning to concepts from the past in the face of every changing software trends, and what solutions can be found for tomorrow’s challenges.

“In software, we tend to always look for what’s next, but if we run into a problem, chances are there’s a solution to a similar problem from the past,” said James.

This was James’ third time attending CUSEC, but his first year helping to organize. “I’ve always been inspired by the conference, so it’s nice to be a part of the organizing,” he said. “It’s my first and probably not my last.”

With files from Cléa Desjardins


Concordia University