Connecting the real world and the classroom with new skills SMU BSc (Software Engineering)Future WSDegree

By SMU Digital Marketing Team

In today’s fast-paced economy, it takes more than rigorous coding training to produce competent software engineers. In addition to technical skills, practical communication skills, the ability to work constructively in a team, a strong work ethic and a positive attitude are essential elements for success. And these are precisely the characteristics that the new Bachelor of Science (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture work-study program launched by the School of Computing and Information Systems SMU (SCIS) aims to convey. The first of its kind, the inaugural program was launched with GovTech and NCS as anchor partners.

GovTech, or Singapore’s Government Technology Agency, is a statutory council launched in 2016 to deliver government digital services to the public. NCS is a leading technology services company operating in Asia Pacific and partners with governments and businesses to advance communities through technology.

Inking of the collaboration

On February 3, 2022, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed between GovTech and SMU to formalize the BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Stuture Degree partnership, followed by a second Memorandum of Understanding inked with NCS The 4th of July. Future software engineers will learn essential skills through a 52-week apprenticeship and a study programme which was designed and taught in collaboration with anchor partners. Enabling students to work in development teams under the mentorship of practicing software engineers from Anchor Partners, the program provides in-depth, first-hand experience through impactful technology projects and products.

DN Prasad, Senior Director of Strategy, People and Organization, GovTech at the virtual signing ceremony of the MoU between GovTech and SMU

“We are committed to cultivating and developing the future young tech talent for Singapore,” says GovTech Senior Director of Strategy, People and Organization, DN Prasad.

“And this is where we can play a role for the ecosystem with key partners; this is where collaboration of this nature is essential.

The partnership aims to nurture a pool of software engineering talent through the new work-study degree, which will launch in August 2022 with its first cohort of 45 students. It strives to prepare undergraduate students with a solid foundation in software engineering, design principles of human programming skills, and real industry experience.

As NCS’ Managing Partner of Business Development and Partnerships, Howie Lau says, “Our partnership with SMU on the university’s first work-study SkillsFuture degree reflects our commitment to developing technology talent and to develop future-ready skills, providing opportunities for software engineering talent to be involved in exciting and impactful work at NCS.

Meet the demand for talent

This sandwich course is the latest in a series of developments by SCIS. As the digitization of industries, economies and societies has accelerated, the interest of prospective students in computer science has increased and led to a growth in the number of students in recent years. In response, SCIS has continuously renewed its programs to ensure their relevance to emerging technologies and market demands, including introducing the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in 2019 and the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Law in 2020.

“As we all know, the nature of software engineering requires technical know-how and lots of hands-on practice, teamwork, and communication skills,” says the Dean of SCIS, Professor Pang Hwee Hwa.

“This is what makes software engineering a subject perfectly suited to work-study training. Through a 52-week apprenticeship with our industry partners, our undergraduates will be able to hone their technical and soft skills by working on real-world problems within professional software development teams.

Highlights of the BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Alternance

With a curriculum developed in consultation with practicing software engineers in Singapore, the program will be updated regularly to keep up with market trends. A suite of 12 required courses covering essential software engineering skills will precede the one-year credit-based apprenticeship. Aimed at those seeking an applied computer science degree, the BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree offers a much longer learning period than typical internships.

With the opportunity to work in real development teams, students can expect innovative software solutions under the mentorship of professional software engineers. Subject matter experts will also provide curriculum feedback, co-teach courses as adjunct professors or guest lecturers, and co-score a certificate of achievement to undergraduate students. This allows students to learn industry best practices from subject matter experts and get a head start in their careers.

Additionally, the first NCS scholarship and awards will be launched at SCIS. The scholarship will be awarded to outstanding third and fourth year work-study students, while the prizes will be awarded to the best students in various courses.

Prof Pang Hwee Hwa, Dean of SCIS (left) and NCS Managing Partner, Business Development and Partnerships, Howie Lau

“The NCS scholarship and awards we are launching, along with NCS’s partnership in our BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study program, will further encourage our students to reach new heights of academic excellence and provide them with the opportunity to make experience first-hand the exciting careers of NCS and the wider IT industry,” says Professor Pang.

Besides GovTech and NCS, SCIS is also actively seeking other anchor partners. In addition to hosting the learnings, senior software engineers from these partners may also be invited to co-host the courses, with the curriculum slightly tailored to the specific needs of the business. This decision ensures that course projects can be contextualized with real, real-life scenarios to familiarize students with domain-specific knowledge.

Bridging the gap between academia and industry

The collaboration embodies the bringing together of academia and industry through technology. SMU and its core partners can leverage resources to co-design and co-teach the program and deliver a learning curriculum that provides students with invaluable experience in public sector digital transformation. It also aligns with an “organizational culture of learning, development and our philosophy of committing to lifetime employability, not lifetime employment,” Prasad adds.

The BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree is intended to produce comprehensive graduates with comprehensive development skills and software engineering principles for the design, development, testing and maintenance of software systems. Graduates should be well versed in cybersecurity, clean coding, DevOps, and modern agile software development methodologies while acquiring strong communication skills and working productively in a software development team.

As Professor Pang concludes: “I hope this partnership will be one of many to come and the joint effort to produce a pool of career-ready tech talent for Singapore and the industry.”

Aspiring to be a professional software engineer? Learn more about the BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree now.

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