Departments can improve the environment for ECSE faculty by providing technical staff support and laboratory space. Start-up packages for new assistant professors in ECSE comparable to those received by new experimentalists in other departments would enable them to begin research more quickly. Providing opportunities for junior faculty members to teach advanced seminars in which graduate students can receive needed training in preparation for joining a research project would facilitate the building of a research team.
The federal government and industry also have critical roles to play in improving the environment for ECSE in academia. Most importantly, the federal government should realize that a variety of funding structures are needed to support ECSE research, including small, relatively short term grants or contracts that focus primarily on the development of a concept; medium-scale group funding; and large, relatively long term grants or contracts associated with deliverable computing artifacts. Postdoctoral support for new Ph.D.s in ECSE would help to overcome some of the limitations and constraints imposed by the six-year probationary period for assistant professors.
The computer industry can help to enhance the environment for ECSE in academia by establishing collaborative work arrangements with universities, including those that may not be nationally known or recognized. Computer or software companies that interact with such universities and thus expose local CS&E departments to the problems and needs of industry not only foster meaningful collaborative work but also help to produce students who are better informed about these problems. Such students graduating from less well recognized universities may be more likely to work for local computer or software companies. If appropriate nondisclosure agreements can be achieved, industry can also provide access to hardware designs or source codes for various software systems. An academic researcher's access to source code will certainly reduce the time required for him or her to complete an experimental software system and may result in an improved system of direct interest to the owner of the source code.