Brandeis GPS Blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Tag: Master of Software Engineering

Raising the Tide through the NOVA INITIATIVE

We are living in interesting times where it is the individuals like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, and not countries, that are reaching for the stars. When new technologies like cell phones are taking a few years to adopt when compared with multiple decades for telephones in prior times. These historically improbable events are happening because of the perfect storm due to our deeper understanding of manipulating life using CRISPR, fashioning of nano machines, exploitation of globally connected data capture, use of cloud based deep learning, to name a few. While all this progress is exciting, it is increasing the disparity between those who have the capabilities and those who don’t. The impact can be seen in the growing economic backwater in middle America when compared with the coasts, where most of the investments and innovation is happening. This is also true of most developing countries that are unable to get on to the technology adoption curve.

At the same time another major shift has occurred that creates room for hope. For the first time in the history of mankind we can now access the raw material, talent and resources needed to create new products. With global supply chains and marketing channels, anyone connected through the internet can develop, market, deliver and support their products and services. The ability to harness the global market brings the economy of scale as well a bigger variation in price point and features.

Navigating through the myriad aspects of a globally competitive new product development is a complex endeavor. Large companies educate their employees through a large number of special courses, internships and external programs. These learning facilities are not available to the vast majority of people not having access to such nurturing eco-systems. Based on first hand experience of leading development across continents for industry, I am convinced that this lack of education in the “Practice of Engineering” is what is holding many of the less developed regions back from being able to participate in the global economy. Some of this practice of engineering is formally being taught in a peripheral sense in an MBA and a myriad of specialized courses in marketing, supply chain, project management etc.

In response, I founded the Nova Initiative which aims to provide structured education focused on teaching how to approach the complex task of developing and executing all the different phases of developing a globally competitive new product. The hope is that this will allow regions, people and companies all across the planet, create value and ensure a lack of extreme disparity.

Written by: Imran Khan, Faculty Robotic Software Engineering

For more information on the Software Engineering program or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Q&A with Aline Yurik Program Chair for Software Engineering

Dr. Aline Yurik serves as the Program Chair of the Software Engineering degree program at Brandeis GPS!

In addition to her role as Program Chair, Aline works as the Director of Software Engineering at Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts. Aline holds a PhD in Computer Science, Master of Arts in Computer Science, Master of Science in Information Technology and Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science, all from Brandeis University – Go Judges!

Read on to learn about Aline’s career path, her excitement about Internet-of-Things (IoT) and how to leverage course projects for your software industry job search:

Q: Can you tell us about your career path and what led you to the professional position that you are in today?
A: After completing my PhD in Computer Science from Brandeis University, I pursued a career in the software and IT industry, as I wanted to apply what I had learned to real-life software systems. Starting out as a software engineer, I enjoyed the process of creating software to address the needs of people and organizations. I became interested in software design and architecture, as a way to create software systems that scale well and are adaptable to new capabilities. Over time, I have had solution architect roles, as well as progressive technical management roles.

On the management track, I started out as a technical team leader, and progressed to a development manager and currently an IT director role, leading a software implementation and quality assurance team.

In parallel with my software industry work, I have pursued my passion for teaching as an adjunct faculty member at Brandeis GPS. I have taught a variety of software engineering courses since the start of the Master of Software Engineering (MSE) in 1997. In my role as Program Chair, I work on program curriculum, ensuring that the MSE courses reflect the latest best practices and technology achievements in the software industry and prepare MSE graduates for a successful career in the software engineering field.

Q: What is an emerging trend in the software engineering field that is exciting you?
A: Internet-of-Things (IoT) is bringing a new revolution to everyday devices and objects in our world. It is powering the concept of smart cities, with technology optimizing traffic and helping manage infrastructure and buildings. IoT will be changing how we live in our homes with smart appliances, smart security systems, and virtual reality/augmented reality-enabled entertainment, gaming and educational options.

IoT is opening new opportunities for medical, healthcare and fitness fields, with new medical devices that can help people better manage chronic diseases, get rehabilitation support and improve their overall fitness. There are a lot of exciting things that IoT will be bringing to our lives!

Q: Do you have any advice for students who are planning a job search in the software engineering space?
A: I recommend to use the software projects you have worked on in your courses as your portfolio that you can showcase with the potential employers. Think about design, architecture, technology and process decisions you have made in these projects and create an overview that highlights important decisions and lessons learned from these software projects. Also, be open-minded about applying to a variety of roles, as there are many opportunities in the software field that span all phases of a software development lifecycle. You may discover that your prior experiences and interests make you a perfect fit for a role you may not have considered!

Q: What is a fun fact about you that students may not already know?
A: I started tap dancing several years ago, and have been enjoying it tremendously! Tapping is both a fun physical activity and also a mental challenge as we are making rhythm and sound with our feet. Learning and practicing a new dance choreography is something I look forward to every week!

For more information on the Software Engineering MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Designing, Developing and Maintaining Software Systems

Software engineers enjoy profound flexibility in the global job market. There are ample opportunities in banking, health care, insurance, defense, finance, education and countless other industries that use computing technology in its endeavors. As companies experience the rapid expansion of technology and the impact on all aspects of their businesses, software engineers with a unique set of technology skills are in high demand.

The Master of Software Engineering at Brandeis GPS is designed to help professionals in robotics build advanced skills in various robotic software engineering technologies and develop hands-on experience with the technology stack. Upon degree completion, students are equipped to:

  • Apply software engineering best practices to design, develop, operate and maintain software systems.
  • Build software solutions using different technologies, architects and life-cycle approaches in the context of different organizational structures, with demonstrated programming expertise in Java.
  • Collaborate and communicate with team members and other stakeholders to achieve software development project goals.

When we asked Joshua, a Master of Software Engineering Graduate, about the program, this is what he said,

“Many of the courses in the program provided me with incredible skills that would have been difficult to learn on my own. I was able to learn multiple different programming languages and apply them through required projects and assignments. In doing so, I feel I have improved my marketability and my value to my company and provided me with opportunities going forward in my life.”

The GPS community extends beyond our online classrooms. Students have the opportunity to expand their professional circles and build meaningful connections with our faculty, program chairs, and advisory board members. In addition, our programs are designed to help students balance a graduate education with a full-time job and other professional, academic, or personal commitments.

For more information on the Software Engineering program or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Student Spotlight: Carolyn Aquino

Hiring in an Ever-Changing Landscape

By Jesse Mazur

The New Hotness

You can’t go a month without hearing about the latest new framework or language that will solve all of your coding problems. In the mobile and front-end worlds it feels like last year’s state-of-the-art project is next year’s crufty legacy code. In this ever-changing landscape, engineers are always trying to learn the latest technique, attend a new bootcamp, or crank out a new personal project in order to keep up. The result can be piles of resumes that contain every new buzz word under the sun, and applicants painting themselves as the best candidate for just about any engineering position. How can hiring managers ensure that they find the right person? How can aspiring engineers land the right job?

The answer: fundamentals.

Back to Basics

There will always be a new way to do things. In the iOS world we saw a major shift from Objective C to Swift. In the Android world we are seeing a shift from Java to Kotlin. In the web world, we saw jQuery take the JavaScript world by storm, then Google’s Angular was the only way anyone wanted to write web apps. Now, it seems like Facebook’s React is leading the pack. What has not changed are the basic building blocks of software: data structures and algorithms. Minor differences aside, an array is always an array and a for loop is always a for loop. What many new engineers are missing when they go after “the new hotness” are those fundamentals. It’s not just about knowing how to set up an Action/Reducer in React that makes someone a good engineer. That skill will make them relevant right now, in the world where React is king, but in a few years there will be a new player in the game and that skill will be yesterday’s news. The engineers that will continue to shine will be those who understand the fundamentals of programming so that they can adapt to the next wave of short-lived must-have tech stacks.

The Current Process

There are certainly valid criticisms of common tech hiring practices. Long interview loops with difficult coding problems written primarily on a whiteboard inevitably leave something to be desired. The reason for this process is often misunderstood and can lead to dissatisfied candidates complaining about unfair, puzzle-like questions. “When was the last time anyone actually used a red black tree on the job anyway?!” Not all of those complaints are unwarranted. An engineer, at her core, is a problem solver. The programming language is simply one of many tools she uses to solve the problem. The spirit of these questions is to reveal the candidate’s problem solving skills in order to understand if she will be able to solve similar problems on the job. Coding interviews shouldn’t be vocabulary tests or mind bending trick questions. A well-worded question will challenge the candidate, but it will also be practical and relevant to the work they will be doing on the job. It will have several possible solutions, each of which may leverage different data structures and algorithms. Its difficulty will also scale, so that a more seasoned engineer will solve it more elegantly, while handling more edge cases right off the bat. An experienced interviewer should be able to gauge that skill early on and know what curve balls to throw the candidate to calibrate the questions to the candidate’s level.

Talent vs Skill

A final piece of the puzzle is the ability to recognize and balance the difference between talent and skill. In this context, talent is defined as an innate ability or trait the candidate possesses— something that cannot necessarily be taught. A skill, on the other hand, can be defined as something that can be mastered with practice over time. Finding the correct engineer should start with identifying which talents she needs to embody in order to be successful in the role, then defining the ideal skillset. For example, a candidate with a natural drive to deliver results, who is a quick learner with good fundamentals, might not need to be 100% familiar with the bleeding-edge framework being used on a given project. She can probably join the team, learn quickly, and get a project to the finish line on time.

Conclusion

The engineering world is always changing and there will always be some new way to solve the same old problems. Finding candidates with innate talents that are necessary for the role, who also have a strong grasp of the fundamentals, will set up any dev team for longer term success. Trying to hire a team of engineers who only know the latest and greatest means having a staff that will not outlast the ever-shortening lifespan of tech stacks. What’s more, trying to find that unicorn-ninja-coder may actually take longer than simply finding a solid engineer who can learn on the job.

Jesse Mazur is a Senior Director of Engineering at Meredith Corporation, the largest US media conglomerate (People, Sports Illustrated, Real Simple, etc.), and a member of the Brandeis GPS Master of Software Engineering advisory board.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

The Best Jobs for Life-Work Balance

Glassdoor, a popular jobs and recruitment website, recently released a crowd-sourced list of best jobs for achieving work-life balance. Many of the positions in the Glassdoor list directly correspond to the industry-driven master’s degrees offered at GPS. Among the 29 positions profiled include:

1. Lab Assistant
2. Creative Manager
3. Computer Programmer
4. Marketing Coordinator
5. Data Analyst
6. Content Manager
7. Web Designer
8. Social Media Manager
9. Scrum Master
10. Marketing Analyst
11. Devops Engineer
12. Mobile Developer
13. User Interface Designer
14. Data Scientist
15. User Experience Designer

Whether you currently hold one of the positions above or are interested in advancing into a similar job, you’re probably looking to achieve balance in all areas of your life. For those seeking to pursue a graduate degree, Brandeis GPS fosters a community that is mindful of the multiple demands facing adult learners and while offering the rigorous standards of excellence that makes Brandeis one of the top universities in the country.

Graduates with Roots in STEM Face Growing Career Opportunities

By: – Custom Content Coordinator

As we enter May, young people here in Boston and across the country are about to embark on a new chapter in their lives. Many will be graduating from college and taking their first step into the great, wide, professional world. Question marks fill their future as they wonder what kind of opportunities await them and their hard-earned bachelor’s degrees.

While it is impossible to forecast the job market with absolute certainty, it is undeniable that the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) hold the greatest opportunities for job seekers now and in the future. Industries like renewable energy, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and technology are rapidly growing and demand increasing numbers of skilled workers to sustain their expansion.

The computer and math occupations account for close to half of all STEM employment, followed by engineering with 32 percent, and then physical and life sciences at 13 percent, according to U.S. Department of Commerce. Significant growth is projected for computer and mathematical scientists, engineers and engineering technicians, architects and architectural technicians and more STEM occupations.

Those with strong STEM education backgrounds “will find themselves at the center of our new economy,” tech expert Vinay Trivedi said in the Huffington Post.

But unfortunately demand is outpacing supply when it comes to STEM-related careers. Fewer students are pursuing advanced math and science degrees, creating a problematic skills gap threatening the United States’ position in the new global economy.

The U.S. ranks 30th in math and 23rd in science, according to latest Program for International Student Assessment; and the latest ACT results show that only 44 percent of our high school graduates are ready for college-level math, and just 36 percent are ready for college-level science, the National Math & Science Initiative reported.

The impact of the skills deficit which develops in secondary level education has deleterious consequences once those students reach college. Many students abandon interest in STEM career by the end of their sophomore year, Irv Epstein, Professor of Chemistry at Brandeis University, observed.

It is a national imperative to reverse this trend. President Barack Obama declared creating the next generation of STEM leaders an educational priority for the nation at his State of the Union Address in January.

“I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that–openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work,” he said. “That’s inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.”

program-hero-softwareMany have answered President Obama’s call to improve STEM education. In addition to early education initiatives, select colleges and universities have stepped up including Brandeis University who has partnered with the Posse Foundation to provide merit-based scholarships to minority students interested in pursuing STEM degrees.

But meanwhile, as programs launch to serve the next generation of students, the STEM jobs are still waiting, available for current job seekers who have the skills and ambition to seize the opportunity.

For those who lack adequate STEM skills but are eager to break into expanding, innovative industries, there is a way for them to bridge the skills gap: graduate education. Don’t wait for a job to pop up that fits your resume. Act now to get the training you need for the jobs available.

Brandeis University’s Division of Graduate Professional Studies prepares ambitious professionals for exciting, expanding opportunities in the job market right now. 

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Advice at Rabb ceremony: ‘Geek Out’

Original Post: http://www.brandeis.edu/now/2014/may/commencement/rabb.html

by: Leah Burrows

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In Sunday’s kickoff diploma ceremony, the Division of Graduate Professional Studies at the Rabb School of Continuing Studies conferred nearly 100 graduate degrees and certificates on a diverse group of professionals from across the country and around the world.

The ceremony awarded graduate certificates and master’s degrees in bioinformatics, information security, information technology management, project and program management, health and medical informatics, virtual management and software engineering.

The graduates, most of whom worked full-time jobs as they pursued their degrees and certificates, shared the spotlight with their families, who were praised for their support and patience.

“Friends and family members should get a graduate degree in understanding,” said Anne Marando, executive director of the Division of Graduate Professional Studies.

Student speaker Robert Havasy, MS ’14, agreed, thanking his family for “propping me up when I thought about quitting, when the work seemed too much.”

Havasy, the corporate team lead for product and technology development at the Center for Connected Health, highlighted the differences between Rabb graduates and others receiving their degrees on Sunday.

Many of these students will spend the next few years figuring out what they want to do, struggling to find their place in the work force and searching for a mentor, Havasy said.

“What makes Rabb unique is the vast majority of us came here from established careers,” Havasy told his fellow graduates. “We will return to work next week or, more likely, tomorrow. We will become mentors to these students. So spend time with your interns, use your influence to promote diversity, civility and integrity in the workplace.”

Eric Siegel ’91, the founder of Predictive Analytics World and Text Analytics World, gave the keynote address. He urged the graduates to “do what you love and love what you do.”

EricSeigelStudent“My advice to you is geek out,” Siegel said. “Get into it. Find that thing in your work you get a thrill out of.  The holy grail in your work life is finding that thing that gives you a kick.”

Siegel, the executive editor of Predictive Analytics Times and the author of “Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die,” received his bachelor’s degree from Brandeis in computer science.

He shared his own experiences geeking out about predictive analytics, theater and teaching. The self-proclaimed “singing professor” lived up to his name, serenading graduates with a few verses from his songs about problem solving and analytics.

“It is a priority to find the fun in your work life,” he told the graduates.

Pursing an education while working a full-time job wasn’t always fun for many of Sunday’s graduates but it was fulfilling.

“This was such a rewarding experience,” said Rocky Moscoso, who received a Master’s of Software Engineering. “I had 14 years of experience in the field before coming to Brandeis and I was able to use what I learned at work in the classroom and visa versa.”

Veronica Orozco, who also received a Master’s of Software Engineering, agreed.

“This experience was insane, overwhelming and totally worth it,” she said.

About the Author:

Leah is the  News and Communications Specialist at Brandeis University, generating content for the university’s website and magazine. Leah also writes for her own blog: wordsbyleah.com

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