Philipp, XU focuses on practice right from the start of your studies. Why is that valuable from your point of view?
Especially for first-year students, the practical projects are a good orientation: they create motivation as an important supplement to theory. Theoretical basics alone, especially in computer science, are not enough to equip you. Early practice is also useful because we now have more start-ups and founders in Germany who need more than just tech knowledge. Interdisciplinary project management with the corresponding hands-on mentality is already a good help in the Bachelor’s phase.
What is your current practical project about?
We have teamed up with four lecturers from different backgrounds across modules: Finance, Automotive & Professional Services, i.e. knowledge-intensive services. We combine the topics of data management & governance as well as data protection, various aspects of software development and technical project work. I myself contribute my expertise in cloud and database technology and Big Data: How does the technology work and which tool should one choose? In boot camps at the beginning of the semester, we introduced the students to the basics as well as our subject areas and showed them how the sectors or industries actually work. Case studies from our own practice round off the offer.
What experiences and skills do the students take away from the project?
In addition to the requirements of the curriculum, students should learn to consider several aspects in their project work from the very beginning. We force them to think outside the box – for example, not only to deal with the topic of the cloud, but also to consider data protection. As in business practice, functionality, regulations, customer needs and last but not least costs as well as efficiency often enough determine everyday life.
How does this knowledge benefit students in future jobs?
Students should get a feeling for what is important in business at an early stage. At the same time, we want to provide a sound scientific basis. This is not always an exact fit later on, if only because of the range of possible applications. We want to prepare in particular to be able to classify topics later. Also important: being able to sell yourself and your ideas well.
What is the added value for companies?
There are far too few capable technicians. Everywhere it is called: Transformation! But there is hardly anyone who can implement them well – on the business and on the technical side. We want to teach our students this holistic thinking. Especially in complex situations, they should be able to include different dimensions. Bringing everything under one roof and still finding a clever technical solution – that is very much in demand in companies.
What happens after the project?
Above all, practical work helps our students to better understand theoretical content. We four lecturers are now working on an “ecosystem for high technology and entrepreneurship” and want to anchor the students’ understanding of how work is done today and where the digital journey is going. I would hire good graduates with this new knowledge and skillset immediately.