The future of software engineering is a formatting problem

If you are reading this, you are thinking about your future. Sometimes it helps to think about the future in pictures.

The top image is a traditional diploma. If you attend almost any college, you will experience this format. It has about 12 weeks of teaching each semester with an exam at the end. You will usually take five or six subjects that run in parallel like swimming lanes and often have nothing to do with each other. Each course has a few hours of lectures and one or two tutorials per week, where you will mostly be sitting listening to someone speak, a very passive experience for the student. The labs, while great, are very limited in contact time.

What if you learned by doing, longer and in real contexts? This is the new format that BSc in Immersive Software Engineering is taking as shown in the image. There are no traditional classes, no modules running in parallel. There are projects where you learn theory and practice through skill acquisition.

Think of it like this.

Imagine trying to make an upgrade to an eScooter. You could spend years studying books on mechanical and electrical engineering, taking exams, then many months redesigning, and finally moving on to building. This is the traditional approach. Or you can start by disassembling a scooter as a team under the guidance of an expert and discovering together how each element works in search of opportunities for improvement; then rebuild with new features. This is the immersive software engineering approach – learning by doing. And project-based learning means you’re graded continuously, not with end-of-term exams.

Even better, the people you learn from are actively researching the areas you study. They’re trying to make better engines, software, and computer engines, and they’re really good at it. You can learn on a toy engine or a real one – the principles are the same. It’s just the parts that are more complex or more expensive. From the outset, you are at the forefront of software engineering research.

The intensity of the course, over 40 weeks per year instead of 24, accelerates your progress. So you can accumulate more hours of effective learning and graduate faster. You get a master’s degree in four years, not five or six.

But wait, there’s better. Students often face a chicken and egg problem when it comes to education and experience. Often you will need to qualify in something before trying to gain experience in the field. In Immersive Software Engineering, you will have the opportunity to work in five paid internships at up to five different companies. These are called residencies because, in the same way that you gain expertise in a medical residency on various invasive procedures through practice, ISE does the same for software. Over 50 of the best companies in Ireland and around the world will compete for you for the residencies which make up 50% of the course. The experience you gain will make you one of the most sought after software engineers in the world. You will command a salary that will be the envy of doctors and lawyers. You will be able to travel anywhere, work anywhere and enjoy a varied life.

The University of Limerick has scholarships to encourage equality, diversity and inclusion. Software engineering has a diversity problem. UL wants to solve it. If you don’t look, feel or think like the generic actor who plays every hacker in every movie you’ve seen, the UL team wants to hear from you. They will announce the scholarships very soon.

Learn more about ISE at www.so4ftware-engineering.ie

Gordon K. Morehouse