Interview with Levente Kovács: We Want to Provide Practical Knowledge to Students
Our today’s guest is Levente Kovács, Vice Rector of Education at Óbuda University, Hungary, professor, former Vice Dean of Informatics Department. Professor Kovács also conducted a significant research in the area of physiological control systems, including the creation of artificial organs and control systems for them.
Sigma Technology Hungary started cooperation with Óbuda University in 2015 by launching the course in Infocommunication and Soft Skills for the students of the Informatics Department at the university. Today, 110 students attend the course, and our new course in test automation is open for registration.
Professor Kovács, Óbuda University is one of the leading technical universities in Hungary, could you tell us what makes this education establishment unique?
Yes, we are the second largest engineering university in Hungary. I believe that our success is explained by our way of teaching students and by our cooperation with businesses. We have always been proud of our practical applications and cooperation with the companies that prepare the students for work-life before they graduate. Óbuda University gives theoretical knowledge while incorporating a practical approach.
Our cooperation with Sigma Technology is one of the examples of this way of working. When we started with the soft skills course three years ago, we wanted to push the boundaries of our department and offer students valuable practical knowledge that they can use to get their first job.
Why do you believe it is so important for students to attend this kind of lectures?
You can look at this question from two different perspectives.
Firstly, let’s start with the curriculum. As I mentioned before, Óbuda University differs from other Budapest universities that offer mostly theoretical collaboration. We have a legacy of being a college, so we can say that we have always trained students in a way, which allow them to enter the job market quickly. When we have become a university, we wanted to preserve this way of working. Today, I am proud to say that our students get job offers before they are done with their studies. The IT market is now overheated, and the need for IT resources has increased a lot. Since we wanted to maintain the practical aspect of education and maintain the number of students, we had to rethink the whole curriculum. We have identified around 30 companies that we would like to cooperate with and selected several strategic partners. Sigma Technology is, of course, our strategic partner.
Secondly, we should consider the students’ point of view. Since we are an engineering education establishment, our students are highly-skilled in technical knowledge and engineering, but they don’t have enough experience in public speaking, pitching their ideas, and selling their solutions. We decided that having a course in soft skills would be of great value for the students. If a company acts as a lecturer and owner of the course, we can give the students practical knowledge they can apply during a job interview or meeting.
The soft skills course is English-only program, can you explain why?
We are working hard on becoming a more international university. One of the metrics for that is the number of foreign students. Over the course of years, this number has grown several times and we are ambitious to increase it further.
The English language is also important for our students. Many of them want to make a successful career and this means, in most cases, that they will work at an international company, where good English knowledge is a must.
The Hungarian education system will change in 2020. The admission to computer science departments will require Intermediate level of English. Even though there are still a few years left, we have already started to prepare for this new requirement.
You have recently started a new course – test automation for BSc and MSc students. Can you tell us a little bit about this?
Test automation is one of the areas that has developed a lot over the years. Long gone are times when testing was considered a low-level computer science. Testers today should have a clear insight into different areas of software development. Testers should be able to use their knowledge so that they can see software from the architect’s, developer’s, and user’s perspective.
We have now completed our pilot course in test automation, which is quite unique as well. We have offered two IT companies to hold this course for two groups of students. Sigma Technology taught one of these groups. During the semester, the students attended the respective course, and we then compared the knowledge acquired. Even though the courses and lecturers were very different, the outcome was beneficial for both groups.
At the current moment, test automation is an elective subject, and we have the ambition to make it a mandatory one in the coming years. What we can see today is that the interest in the course is huge among students. We had 2×24 places available for it this semester, and they were filled in less than 10 minutes.
What are your plans for the future when it comes to test automation?
Our ambition with the test automation course is to create a test automation platform on the Budapest city level, where we will engage several big stakeholders to push the development of test automation education. One of our stakeholders would be the ICT Association of Hungary (IVSZ) that promotes the needs of the tech business. We rely on their help in promoting the needs for better test automation education in government. The association can help promote this platform among their members and among other universities. We have talked with Sigma Technology about this as well and expect cooperation in this matter.
At some point, we would also like to introduce ISTQB certification for our students. We would like to present something to the students that would give them value, an advantage for future employment.
Another initiative that we would like to develop is a research-oriented collaboration with companies. László Palkovics, Minister for Innovation and Technology in Hungary, plans to streamline this cooperation between companies and academia by empowering Ph.D. cooperation.
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About Sigma Technology
Sigma Technology is a part of Sigma Group and is a global supplier of product information, embedded and software design, and offshore development. We are experts with a passion for technology and information, and take pride in delivering quality and constantly improving our deliveries. Our philosophy is “Local Drive – Global Strength”, therefore we have offices worldwide to be close to our customers.
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