Towards a master's degree in Software Engineering
Khaled Al-Sabbagh from Syria is currently on his way towards completing a master's degree in Software Engineering. He reflects positively on the two years he has spent at the IT Faculty, while pointing out the advantages of aiming for a career as a software engineer.
– Since Software Engineering combines areas such as mathematics and logics with, for example, management, I think the programme deepens your ability to think and analyse problems, Khaled Al-Sabbagh says.
Learned of the master's programme in Gothenburg through his friends
Born and raised in Syria, Khaled's interest in IT emerged in junior high school as he won first prize in a software design competition. Eventually, he pursued a bachelor's degree in IT Engineering in Damascus, before continuing his studies in the United Kingdom, pursuing a master's degree in management. It was after that he – through friends – learned of the master’s programme in Software Engineering held in Gothenburg.
As Khaled researched the programme, he was impressed by the straightforward description of the programme, as well as the high ranking of the University, and decided to apply for a scholarship from the Swedish Institute.
– To me, it was important to find an education which combines both management and technical aspects, Khaled explains.
And Khaled shows no signs of regret. He speaks warmly of the Faculty, as well as of Gothenburg in general: – I had neither been in the city nor in Sweden before, he says. It is a wonderful place, especially for someone who loves nature.
– As for the Faculty, I must say that all my expectations were met, more than that actually. I was really impressed by the competence of both the staff and the students. There is a high level of proficiency which triggers you to challenge.
Guest lecturers from major companies are regularly invited during the courses
Khaled thinks he has benefited from the way the module of the programme is constructed. The practical and theoretical parts are aligned in parallel throughout the courses. Their newly acquired knowledge and deepened theoretical understanding of a certain area is immediately taken into use in various kinds of projects.
– The module really bridges the gap between theory and practice, he says. I think the programme is designed in a way which helps students to excel in a variety of roles within industry. The fact that the programme regularly invites guest lecturers from major companies such as Volvo and Ericsson makes sure that all theoretical issues are addressed.
One of the essential components of Software Engineering is teamwork
Khaled has been involved in a wide variety of projects over the past two years that has gained him several skills, some of which he has been able to make use of outside academia. After taking the course Empirical Software Engineering, Khaled was able to participate in a voluntary project in Syria. His task was to evaluate educational software developed for the purpose of providing children with non-formal education. The evaluations of the project have overall been positive and the idea of working with children on a daily basis appeals to Khaled. In this particular project, he was assisted by teachers at the department, a good example of the close relationship between staff and students.
One of the essential components of Software Engineering is teamwork. Almost every project at the programme requires collaboration between students, something which can come out as quite tricky in the beginning, with students coming from all over the world.
– It gets easier with time though, Khaled states. And it is inspiring, this particular approach makes the programme very special.
Master's project: Studying the dynamics in software development teams
At the moment Khaled has finished all regular courses, except for a written exam, which means that he is only left with his master's thesis.
In the master's project Khaled is working closely together with an IT consulting company specializing in software and telecommunication. The objective of their study is to investigate correlations between group maturity and productivity among a number of software development teams. Group maturity is related to the level by which people work and interact effectively together as a team. The maturity level of a given group will determine its hidden strengths and weakness and will influence the way a group reacts, behaves and performs. The maturity level of a work group is identified in different stages. Each stage corresponds to the level of effectiveness a group is expending. For instances, do they listen to each other’s opinions? Are there followers and leaders within the group or do they all contribute effectively and equivalently in decision-making? Are they all aware of their groups' goals?
Wants to use IT to bring people together and help rebuild the country
While the thought of staying in Sweden after finishing the programme definitely has crossed Khaled’s mind, he also expresses a desire to return to his native Syria, a country plagued by war, and make use of his skills and proficiencies for humanitarian purposes.
– Hundreds of talented young Syrians have not had such a unique educational opportunity. This makes me determined to convey my knowledge and skills to my Syrian peers back home, aiding in building Syria and bringing people together.
Text and photo: Erik Pedersen