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UL rewrites the rulebook in computer science education

ISE: next steps for the new flagship software engineering programme

 

Having generated a burst of global interest earlier this year following the announcement by University of Limerick that the new Immersive Software Engineering (ISE) programme would be delivered in partnership with tech giants, industry has reacted strongly hailing it as a leap forward in software engineering education.

In partnership with 36 organisations and tech companies such as Stripe, Analog, Provisio, Intercom, and Manna Aero, the commencement of ISE next year at UL will include five paid residences allowing real world experience during the course of the four-year programme where students are continuously mentored and evaluated in professional practice settings.

For those asking how the course is immersive, programme designers would say that software is eating the world.

Given the criticality of software in daily life, a similar professional practice-based approach is needed for software engineering students.

ISE calls this process immersion. Studio-based education via team-teaching in blocks via projects, and not standard modules, is the vehicle through which immersion is achieved when the students are on campus at UL.

Residencies are the vehicle through which immersion is achieved in a diversity of work settings. This transformative innovation advances, but in no way replaces, the wonderful Cooperative Education concept pioneered in UL fifty years ago.

In developing the residency concept, ISE’s Head of Residencies, JJ Collins, says “The ISE students will have the time of their lives when on residency.

"Learning by doing, as part of a four-year integrated BSc/MSc, with different paid placements across the top companies in the world. Imagine that.

ISE is a total paradigm shift and rewrites the rulebook for software engineering education. There is no other course in existence like ISE’s integrated BSc/MSc.

In addition to innovations such as residencies, ISE students on campus will learn by collaborating in teams using problem-based learning in a dedicated studio. The ISE studio is a learning space that fosters creativity and innovation in peer networks similar to how new ideas are born and grow in the 'real world',” he adds.

Having launched with 16 partner companies, in just ten weeks, the number of companies has more than doubled as there are now 36 partner companies, and that number continues to rise.

Along with UL's Professor Stephen Kinsella as ISE program co-director, new members have also joined the Industry Advisory Board of companies supporting the programme philanthropically, chaired by the co-founder and President of Stripe, John Collison.

ISE is a recognition we have an incredible array of world beating talent on this small island when it comes to developing innovative best-in-class solutions to incredibly thorny problems using the very best software engineering practices and tech. It is also a recognition that UL is the kind of University to take a risk on a brand new kind of course, with a new approach to teaching computer science.

Commenting on the programme’s deep innovation, ISE course director and program co-director Professor Tiziana Margaria said “ISE is all about innovation, about relevance to the students and the profession from day one.

We bring research and teaching together in an unprecedented way, we continuously work with deeply engaged companies, and we bring creative and proactive students in an intensive and immersive studio environment.

We systematically do new things in new ways, and I can’t wait to get started.”

ISE partner companies are currently co-designing the residency experience, and here, variety for the students will be key. The 30-plus ISE residency partners are solving problems in every conceivable domain. Students will be able to learn from a diversity of residency experiences with ISE partners, from payment platforms to sensors and sensors integration, autonomous vehicles and safer driving, AI for speech recognition, but also connected health, sustainable fashion, photography, databases, online shopping, drones, finance, social media, online security, HR, climate change, the music industry, and many more.

University of Limerick President, Professor Kerstin Mey says “This partnership is an incredibly exciting one for the University.

UL has always been a dynamic and innovative university that works with industry to help shape the graduates of tomorrow.

The employability rate of UL graduates is consistently the highest of any Irish higher education institutions and this will only serve to increase that leading edge.

“Our industry partners have been invaluable in the conception of this disrupting programme, bringing their incredible industry experience to the benefit of our future graduates and effectively doing something that has never been done before in shaping and changing how computer science is taught in Ireland.

“UL has always been a pioneer. We are a ‘disruptor’ in the most positive sense. Over the last eighteen months, the evolution of this programme has built on that proud tradition.

“We are now ready to unveil Immersive Software Engineering to the world and are excited by the opportunities it presents,”

Professor Mey added.

 

ISE partners

Four ISE partners have been successful in their funding rounds since launch. In total ISE partner companies have a market capitalization north of €1 trillion, and represent some of the most innovative Irish tech companies, from Utmost and Tines to Trackworx, Payslip and Fenergo, as well as established multinational companies like ADI, Shopify, Intel, MasterCard, Arista, RentTheRunway, BD, Transact Campus, Facebook and Stripe. The full list of partner companies is at: www.softwareengineering.ie

ISE’s partner companies have a deep commitment to community outreach, equality, diversity, and inclusion. Several partner companies have funded scholarships and outreach activities to increase the diversity of the students taking ISE, and there will be a range of second-level engagements to make sure second level students know all about the course and what it can do for them.

So what next for this exciting programme?

The first ISE students will start in September, 2022 but there is much to do before they arrive as ISE must design and build a new immersive space for them to learn in. The course admission procedure features a portfolio for prospective students to show their creativity, problem-solving

and ingenuity. Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion are centre on the ISE radar so that software development is reflective of society, and the portfolio is a gateway to ISE for students from all backgrounds so that they too will drive digital innovation.

We ask prospective students to start planning and developing their portfolio as a means of demonstrating excellence and initiative. And given that portfolios are becoming the norm in the software engineering profession, why not start now?

Check www.software-engineering.ie for further guidance.

ISE also features lots of second-level engagement to convince more students, who could do anything, to study software engineering.

As John Collison says;

Success means more of our top young minds choose to study software engineering.

ISE must hire top academics and the most engaged support staff. And they must start telling their story to the people who really matter-students and their parents. It’s going to be fun watching them develop.”

- Andrew Carey