An Analysis of the Differences between Academic and Corporate Software Development; Socioeconomic Impacts of Electric Vehicle Adoption in Developed and Developing Nations

Siebor, Konrad, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, Engineering and Society
Graham, Daniel, Computer Science
Vrugtman, Rosanne, Computer Science

The discipline of engineering is becoming increasingly diverse. The scope of viewpoints which are generally accepted is expanding in ways that are making the field more inclusive and interdisciplinary. For this reason, it is crucial for engineers in-training to embrace this diversification of thought, especially in domains which were previously thought of as siloed. This portfolio explores two topics: software engineering and electric vehicle (EV) adoption within the aforementioned context of differing viewpoints. Software engineering approaches have traditionally varied between different institutions. The cultural and technical divide is most apparent between academia and the corporate world, which operate within completely different development frameworks and incentive structures. When looking at other sociotechnical topics, the new revolution in EV technology stood out as also having deeply rooted, but poorly understood, divides between two socioeconomic groups: developed and developing nations. In both projects, the analysis follows a three-stage line of questioning: what disparities exist, why do such disparities occur, and what can we learn from the discrepancies to strengthen both parties. The STS research topic on the EV revolution and software development report also complement each by focusing on engineering contrasts at two different scales: a global socioeconomic issue and ideological differences in a specific line of work.
The technical project outlines the author’s experiences interning at Amazon within the AWS EC2 organization and developing an internal package which automated repetitive workflows to resolve problem tickets. The analysis specifically revolves around the software development skills used during the duration of project in the context of deliverables, interactions with the immediate team, and observations of the Amazon corporate culture. These skills include learning internal tooling, developing robust code architectures, utilizing version control, ensuring code quality, and utilizing test-driven development. The primary difference observed between academia and the corporate software development landscape was the lack of emphasis towards the DevOps tools that surround the core coding process. This discrepancy reveals key deficiencies in UVA’s CS curriculum regarding the practice of software development, specifically with regards to the topics of source control, testing, and continuous development/integration. Due to recent experiences in both academia and a large corporation, this work is significant in contextualizing how students and educators should think about the interactions between these two domains.
The STS topic centers around the automotive industry, which is currently dominated by internal combustion engines which run on polluting fossil fuels. The need for a rapid shift in energy utilization to curb greenhouse emissions combined with recent advances in battery technology has established battery electric vehicles (BEVs) as a viable, long-term alternative. There is, however, a notable lack of analysis on the socioeconomic implications of this unpreceded industry trend in modern scientific literature. The STS research seeks to uncover the extent to which BEV adoption differentially impacts poorer communities compared to their wealthier counterparts. Specifically, the analysis explores how positive societal benefits in first world communities arise at the expense of poorer nations, which bear the brunt of inequitable production practices and rarely have the institutionalized infrastructure in place to benefit from the very products they are helping produce. Evidence is aggregated from the information and opinions found in different published material, ranging from highly technical scientific writing to mainstream news articles. The rapid industry transformation that has led to the inequitable split between the first and third worlds is then examined through the paradigm shift framework. Furthermore, actor network theory is used to assess the current state of the BEV industry from the perspective of manufactories, industry figures, politicians, and consumers. Results from this research should inform the governmental and industry practices that need to change in order to ensure electric vehicles promote an environmentally friendly, equitable, and technologically advanced automotive industry for the 21st century.
Working on the technical report and STS Research paper concurrently emphasized that all topics, however different, can be combined through common themes that reveal broader truths. Moreover, the degree to which technical vs socioeconomic analysis is emphasized can differ while still preserving a common thesis. The technical report on software development delved deeper into specific technical processes pertinent to the computer science field. The STS paper instead highlighted macroeconomic phenomenon pertinent to a much wider audience. These two focuses where helpful in broadening the scope of both projects. It pushed the discussion beyond simply technical software development processes in order to touch on pedogeological approaches in academia. Similarly, the STS research paper introduced high level overviews of certain technologies in order to add technical context to the situations of different communities. The two projects in conjunction where able to explore the idea of engineering contrasts from all the perspectives relevant to the field of Science, Technology, and Society.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Electric Vehicles, Software Development, Lithium-ion Batteries

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Rosanne Vrugtman, Daniel Graham
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: