IT/Computer Science Professional bodies & their main functions
Definition of Professional Bodies
- A professional body is a group of people in a learned occupation who are entrusted with maintaining control or oversight of the legitimate practice of the occupation.
- Professionals and professional bodies have a crucial role to play as part of the regulatory landscape. Professional body membership gives the public, the sector and government assurance that services are being delivered by qualified and expert professionals who are self-regulating based on a code of professional practice (or conduct) that they have developed. These codes set a standard and are a source of professional pride. In addition, there are robust and fair processes for professional bodies to consider allegations that an individual member may have breached the code, and if there is a case then to take appropriate action, including removing them from the register of the professional body.
Some professional bodies
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
is a professional body open to all who are either graduates, or who have at least four years relevant experience. It also offers a special category of membership for students. Its equivalents of local branches are called chapters: while they are fairly local to places in the USA, there is just one chapter for the whole of the UK. The ACM publishes a number of journals, notably Communications of the ACM (which is circulated to all members) and ACM Transactions on various topics, as well as other publications produced by many of its SIGs. It also publishes books through the ACM Press, and sets of conference proceedings through its digital library. Further information can be found on the notice board in the Lewin laboratory, or via the web at.
Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)
is a professional engineering body, and so membership is only open to those who have graduated from degree courses that it has accredited (i.e. mainly just in the USA). It also has a subsidiary called the IEEE Computer Society, and membership of this is open on much the same basis as ACM. IEEE publishes a range of journals, mainly the sets of IEEE Transactions, which are on various topics, including many in computing. IEEE-CS also publishes some journals of its own, such as Computer (which is circulated to all members), and it operates the Computer Society Press and its digital library, which again publish a range of books and conference proceedings: the latter are often produced in conjunction with the ACM.
International Umbrella Bodies
Fédération Européenne d’Associations Nationales d’Ingénieurs (FEANI)
is the umbrella organization for the bodies that are equivalent to the Engineering Council in most of the European countries (see the web site for details). The main role of FEANI is to coordinate the engineering professions throughout Europe, and in particular it awards the title European Engineer (abbreviated to Eur Ing) to those who are certified as professional engineers in their own country, and who meet its criteria for education, for professional experience, and for competence in at least one other European language besides their own. More recently it has run a programme called EUR-ACE, which includes the Engineering Council and is aimed at recognizing accreditation of engineering degree courses across Europe.
World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO)
It performs a similar role on a worldwide basis. In particular, it set up the Washington Accord, which is an agreement between the relevant bodies in a number of countries for the international recognition of the accreditation of engineering degree courses, and other related agreements. The federation includes the Engineering Council, and the other countries are listed on the web site; eventually it may also include participants in EUR-ACE, but at the moment they are not linked.
Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS)
It is the umbrella body in Europe for professional computing organizations like the BCS. Its main activity is to coordinate policies across these various organisations, although it is also involved in the organization of some conferences.
An important historical activity of CEPIS was to develop the qualification known as the European Computer Driving License (or ICDL for countries outside Europe), which indicates that the holder has achieved a basic level of computer literacy. This and the newer advanced version of it are now run by a body called the ECDL Foundation, which licenses organisations in each country to administer it: within Europe the licensees are the various CEPIS members (i.e. the BCS in the UK).
International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP)
It has a similar role to CEPIS, but on a world-wide basis: in fact, CEPIS is affiliated to IFIP. There have been suggestions that IFIP ought to develop an equivalent to the Washington Accord for computing courses. One step in this direction is that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has produced the “Seoul Declaration for the Future of the Internet Economy”, but while this commits participants to increasing co-operation, it does not say anything explicitly about recognition of qualifications. In some countries (notably the USA) the issue of certifying engineers as competent is closely linked to the issue of whether they then need to be licensed to practice, and so is intensely political. Hence, progress in this direction is likely to be slow.