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The objective of this session is to introduce the subject of software engineering. When you have read this session you will understand what software engineering is and why it is important, know the answers to key questions which provide an introduction to software engineering, understand ethical and professional issues which are important for software engineers.


Virtually all countries now depend on complex computer-based systems. More and more products incorporate computers and controlling software in some form. The software in these systems represents a large and increasing proportion of the total system costs. Therefore, producing software in a cost-effective way is essential for the functioning of national and international economies.

Software engineering is an engineering discipline whose goal is the cost-effective development of software systems. Software is abstract and intangible. It is not constrained by materials, governed by physical laws or by manufacturing processes. In some ways, this simplifies software engineering as there are no physical limitations on the potential of software. In other ways, however, this lack of natural constraints means that software can easily become extremely complex and hence very difficult to understand.

Software engineering is still a relatively young discipline. The notion of ‘software engineering’ was first proposed in 1968 at a conference held to discuss what was then called the ‘software crisis’. This software crisis resulted directly from the introduction of powerful, third generation computer hardware. Their power made hitherto unrealisable computer applications a feasible proposition. The resulting software was orders of magnitude larger and more complex than previous software systems.

Early experience in building these systems showed that an informal approach to software development was not good enough. Major projects were sometimes years late. They cost much more than originally predicted, were unreliable, difficult to maintain and performed poorly. Software development was in crisis. Hardware costs were tumbling whilst software costs were rising rapidly. New techniques and methods were needed to control the complexity inherent in large software systems.

These techniques have become part of software engineering and are now widely although not universally used. However, there are still problems in producing complex software which meets user expectations, is delivered on time and to budget. Many software projects still have problems and this has led to some commentators (Pressman, 1997) suggesting that software engineering is in a state of chronic affliction.

As our ability to produce software has increased so too has the complexity of the software systems required. New technologies resulting from the convergence of computers and communication systems place new demands on software engineers. For this reason and because many companies do not apply software engineering techniques effectively, we still have problems. Things are not as bad as the doomsayers suggest but there is clearly room for improvement.

Quiz PDF eBook: 
Power Enigeering Safety
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26 Pages
English US
Educational Materials

Sample Questions from the Power Enigeering Safety Quiz

Question: What dangerous energy could be released during a vacuum bottle integrity test?


Gamma rays

Nuclear radiation



Both A and C

Question: Which of the following is NOT a rule-of thumb concerning arc flash:


Incident energy decreases by the inverse square of the distance

Incident energy is proportional to time

Each layer of clothing under arc-rated reduces the heat to the body by ~ 50%

Incident energy is inversely proportional to short circuit current

Question: Electrical systems rated less than 240 volts fed by a transformer with a capacity of <125 kVA are not considered an arc-flash hazard.


True, according to IEEE 1584


Question: What electrical test can help determine the condition of the contact pivot’s lubrication state?


Insulation power factor

Contact resistance

Insulation resistance

Vacuum bottle integrity test

DC overpotential

Question: At what voltage does the arc flash hazard not exist?


480 volts

277 volts

208 volts

None of the above

Question: When evaluating insulation-resistance test results on a medium-voltage, air-magnetic circuit breaker, what quantity is evaluated?


Percent power factor


Insulation watts-loss


Question: What are the insulation power-factor tests typically performed on a medium-voltage, air-magnetic circuit breaker?


Six guarded-specimen tests and three ungrounded-specimen tests

Three ungrounded-specimen tests and six grounded-specimen tests

Three guarded-specimen tests and six grounded-specimen tests

Six ungrounded-specimen tests and three guarded-specimen tests

Question: When is the danger of an arc flash the greatest for draw-out circuit breakers?


When opening the circuit breaker

When closing the circuit breaker

When racking the circuit breaker in

When racking the circuit breaker out

Both C and D

Question: Which OSHA regulation requires a hazard/risk analysis of the workplace?






Question: Arc -flash protective clothing and equipment are rated to:


Provide protection to the value indicated as the “arc rating” or “ATPV”

Provide a 50% probability of a burn at the arc rating or ATPV

Provide protection in excess of the arc rating or ATPV

Allow a person to safely work on an energized electrical power system

Question: When wearing an arc-rated face shield, what is the correct body position when operating electrical equipment?


Extend the left arm and turn the face away from the hazard

Extend the right arm and turn the face away from the hazard

Extend either arm and turn your face towards the hazard

Get an apprentice to do it for you

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