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CorumMug-resizecropI’m Michael Corum, from Knoxville, Tennessee in the US. I grew up here in Knoxville, and have lived here most of my life, except for a short time in Cincinnati, Ohio and two years in the US Army, where I served as a medic stationed in various parts of Texas.

I got into software testing while attending the University of Tennessee as an undergraduate. I was fortunate enough to gain a position as a research assistant working for Dr. Jesse Poore (who became my mentor) in the Software Quality Research Laboratory, where I helped develop a suite of Java class libraries used in the support and analysis of model-based software testing of critical systems in telecommunications and defense. I worked there as a research assistant and graduate teaching assistant for three years, and credit that experience with helping develop an understanding and appreciation of the importance of software testing.

I’ve spent the last 16 years writing and testing software in traditional and agile environments, including a short stint as a freelance consultant and two years testing a suite of web-based practice management apps for PET/CT imaging centers. For the last 10 years I’ve been working at Scripps Networks Interactive, a media company (cable TV and internet) that focuses on lifestyle media, primarily home and garden, food, and travel. I lead a team of 9 testers that test everything from small one-off applications or websites to financial applications and a large SOA environment for managing our media assets.

At work, I get to leverage my experience with model-based testing to create a more versatile and effective model-based test automation framework using Selenium WebDriver and GraphWalker, which overcomes many of the problems that are common to existing frameworks. I’m also working with my team to move from the old QA-as-gatekeeper school to a more context-driven approach to testing, establishing test strategies that help the teams we work with do better testing. It’s an interesting challenge because each team has a different context and a different set of problems to address.

This dependence on context is what keeps me interested in software testing. There’s no one solution, no one way to test software. It’s an open-ended problem and, because it’s open-ended, you’re always learning something new. But some people don’t see it that way. They think testing is limited to a particular set of things you do (or don’t do), which really hurts the credibility of our profession, and limits what we can accomplish. I feel the best way to address this is by educating ourselves and speaking intelligently about testing to those people.

That’s one of the primary reasons that I’m involved in the AST in general, and with the Education Committee in particular – to promote our profession through tester education. I volunteer as an instructor in the AST’s BBST Foundations and Bug Advocacy courses. This allows me to work with people from around the world as they develop the knowledge, understanding and vocabulary to better talk about testing, while also improving the breadth and depth of my own knowledge and understanding. I also serve as the chair of the education committee, working behind the scenes with other volunteers to update the course content of the BBST courses as it starts to age, develop new courses, and all of the little things that help make the AST’s BBST courses an asset to the AST, its members, and the profession of software testing.

Email us at bbst@associationforsoftwaretesting.org if you have suggestions for improving the courses, or want to volunteer as an instructor for one of the BBST courses!

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