"I appreciate the close connection to industry"
As a master's student in Software Enginering, Grace Barathy Packianathan from India has spent two years at the IT Faculty. Even though her experience in IT was already comprehensive prior to starting the programme, she thinks Software Engineering will improve her proficiency in the domain. – The programme has all the latest trends within software, she says.
Solid background in IT
Unlike most other expatriate students, Grace was already settled in Sweden when she decided to start studying at Lindholmen. Originally from India, she moved to Gothenburg in 2007 along with her husband who had found a job at Volvo. Grace herself worked for a couple of years as a technical consultant, before deciding to increase her proficiency in the IT domain and explore the Swedish education system. Through friends she learned of the master's programme held at Lindholmen and in 2014 she successfully submitted her application.
At this stage, Grace did already have a solid academic background in IT. In India, she earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree in Computer Science. She is confident, however, that Software Engineering will provide her with better opportunities to progress in the field.
– While Computer Science is purely about programming, I think Software Engineering is more applied; it prepares you to take on a wide range of roles, Grace says. It is a multifaceted programme, enabling you to develop professional skills in everything from management to software architecture.
Clear orientation towards industry
– The programme has a very clear orientation towards industry. Current trends are observed and they make sure some of those feature in the courses. One current example is agile methodology, a subject which I did not know much about before, but I have been introduced to it thanks to the structure of the programme.
The practical approach to the programme really appeals to Grace. As with most master's programmes, there are various theoretical issues. However, students are given ample opportunity to develop practical understanding of the field by, for example, frequently working in labs. In addition, the campus regularly invites guest lecturers representing major industrial brands.
– My experience is that education in India is much more theoretical and you are almost left on your own, she says. Here, almost all projects are conducted in groups. I prefer that style of learning; not least since some of the projects we are working on are really large in scope.
High demands on both theoretical skills and teamwork
Grace is only one of several Software Engineering students coming from abroad, as the programme is renowned for its international profile. Cultural differences can be stimulating as well as quite challenging, she points out. Especially when it comes to the above mentioned teamwork.
– But cultural differences in teamwork is the reality facing all software engineers, she says. I think it is necessary to learn to master it right from the beginning. Ideally, you should be able to collaborate with anyone.
Although Grace has a very positive attitude towards the programme, she admits the schedule can be a bit stressful at times.
– The requirements for passing are high, particularly when it comes to written exams. In addition, there only tend to be a short amount of time between the exams, she says.
– But I very much like that teachers are always around to offer you help when you need it. There is a nice atmosphere at the Department.
Wants to explore the area of software testing
Among the many areas that make up the IT domain, Grace is particularly interested in software testing. In September, she will be doing her master’s thesis, the final step before earning a master’s degree, and testing will be the subject of that paper.
– I will try to collaborate with a company within the industry, she says. I have been working with manual testing during my studies, but for this project I would like to explore automated testing.
With her concluding master’s thesis approaching, Grace has no plans on returning to India once she has earned her degree.
– I have really settled in Gothenburg, she says. There is much to enjoy here: the people, the culture, the islands… Gothenburg feels like my main home.
Text and photo: Erik Pedersen, 2016