Challenging the IT university education and innovations in Bulgaria

[A Public-Private approach to IT university qualification profiles – Introducing management aspect for software and IT graduates]

The Software Engineering Management Program (SEMP) provides contemporary content and training courses on software engineering and IT services management, with a special focus on modern training methods and style.

The program addresses one of the biggest challenges of the fast-growing and internationally competitive Software/IT Industry in Bulgaria – the insufficiency of qualified workforce – both as quantity and quality. In addition, the university curricula still suffer significant gaps related to the fast developing information society, e-business and e-government and the global trends. There is a deficit of systematic educational and qualification programs related to software product and process management, new technologies and system design, security and business continuity (defined already as a business resilience, and strongly related to cyber defense) in order to prepare the practitioners and experts, companies and public organizations for the challenges of the new business models and a society composed of “digitized ecosystems”, as well as to prevent information security risks and critical information system crashes.

SEMP is an excellent example of integration and synergy between industrial and academic institution, supporting organization and donors in order to implement innovative training and educational method in Bulgarian universities educating IT graduates. The set of pilot core courses was developed and implemented in partnership with the Institute of Software Research at the School of Computer Sciences (ISR-CMU, Pittsburgh, USA - and the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University (SEI-CMU, Pittsburgh, USA – ) – one of the top leaders in computers science and software engineering, and the provider of the IT industry quality standards.

European Software Institute - Center Eastern Europe
Institute for Software Research
Software Engineering Institute - Carnegie Mellon University

The program relies on building local capacity by “train-the-trainer” component – qualification of Bulgarian trainers, lead professors and assistants, under the coaching of ISR-CMU & SEI-CMU and ESI lecturers, introducing a new (for Bulgaria) style of teaching and courses organization, also adopted under the various transfer modes from Carnegie Mellon.

During the pilot phases (2010-2014), a capacity for delivery of 17 academic courses, compatible with SEI-CMU and CMU-ISR, was built. Seven of the courses were used in the regular academic education of Bulgarian universities in 2012-2013 and another ten - in academic 2013/2014. More than 660 students and industry representatives have attended the academic and professional courses organized by ESI CEE under the SEMP program since November 2012.The students that successfully graduated from the courses received a professional certificate form SEMP program. The SEMP courses are considered as significant assets for young people when they seek for employment in the ICT sector. Some of the best students were able to attend open lectures and summer courses taught by distinguished lecturers in Bulgaria.

The successful implementation of the two pilot phases of the project (2010-2012, and 2013-2014) established the basis for introduction of internationally recognized master degree program and targeting the quality (with optional partnership) of the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, and with the support of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science. In order to make all – students, professors, future employers, government, users and international clients – “speak” the same language – the language of quality.

Because quality, in combination to talents, is the main competitive advantages of Bulgarian IT industry.