2 августа 2021  |  
10:03 AM  July 19, 2021

Career level-up: TSU will teach IT managers risk management

© предоставлено Олегом ЗмеевымCareer level-up: TSU will teach IT managers risk management

TOMSK, Jul 19 – RIA Tomsk. A new master's degree program for software engineers opens at the Tomsk State University (TSU ) Higher IT School, its main features – study only on weekends and the word "risk" in the name of each academic discipline. Why the master's program "raises" the salary not linearly and how Russia will return to the computer science global agenda – is in the material of RIA Tomsk.

Where to grow as a developer

The first bachelors have graduated this year from the TSU Higher IT School (HITs) – 22 people, including three students from abroad, received degrees of software engineers. Eighteen of them already have offers to take middle positions in companies (with a salary of 80 thousand rubles), for them begin to fight – "including us", says the academic director of HITs Oleg Zmeev. The shortage of programmers in Tomsk has long been a well-known fact...

"According to expert estimates made in 2016, the Tomsk IT business needs about 500 specialists a year. And, most likely, now this figure has only grown. Approximately 70% of these vacancies are middle developers.

TSU experience is unique from this point of view: when the whole country is discussing the quality of IT specialists training, the necessity of higher education for programmers and so on, the teachers of the school and some Tomsk companies have jointly built a program of training the specialists that are most in demand", – says Zmeev.

© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
HITs is scaling the experience: 45 people were recruited for the first course last year, 70 "recruits" will begin studying in September.
If HITs bachelor's program is about how to start a career in software engineering world, the master's program, which starts September 1, is about how to grow in the profession and what to do next. A dozen and a half people are being recruited for the master's program, and all are expected to have a background in the profession – they've learned how to write code "from here to lunch," it's time to take it to the next level.

"If a software engineer wants to move up the career ladder, he or she, one way or another, moves away from direct coding to management, most often,  people management. But making a professional level-up requires a slightly different set of skills and competencies, a different view of the world", – says Zmeev.

© предоставлено Олегом Змеевым
"If you develop as a linear developer, your salary grows linearly. If you want it to grow not linearly, you have to move to another job related to organizing people's work – this is an order of magnitude more difficult and for it always pay more", – says Oleg Zmeev.

Managing on autopilot

Any IT manager knows in his heart: the projects he failed could have succeeded if all possible pitfalls had been taken into account at the start... As the saying goes, "Hindsight is a wonderful thing".

"The IT business is a risky business. That is why our master's program is called "Risks in software engineering". And each of the two dozen subjects begins with the word "Risks (of (something)", – emphasizes the interlocutor.

When asked what mistakes are typical, he answers with a quote from a classic: "All happy families are alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way".

For example, wrongly worked with the requirements: the customer wanted to automate accounting, the task seems to be clear, but in fact he could have in mind two diametrically opposed things. They were not made clear at once – the team began developing an unnecessary program.

Or the project was not technically feasible: the terms of reference is quite specific, they started to work, but suddenly it turned out that the competence or the technical means are not enough for its implementation. Or a failure in organization: everything is clear to everybody, but programmers are creative people, they stopped working without control...

"In the bachelor's program, our main techniques are learning through practice and "flipped classroom", when practice is primary (you have to try to do something first), and theory is secondary – learning what you need to do in order to do it. And the main technique of the master's program is Case study (Learning by examples). We take real failed or, on the contrary, successful projects and take apart on bones. We fix different types of risks and learn to work with them.

From the point of view of project management, we must give some rules, show some markers that signal that the situation in the project begins to move in the wrong (risky) direction. And when a person encounters a similar case in reality, he is like, "Whoops! I was trained for this." It's like driving: after driving school, at first you carefully control yourself on the road, but the more experience you have, the more actions are performed on autopilot", – explains Zmeev.

© предоставлено Олегом Змеевым
HITs master's degree to run on weekends, because it is designed for people already working. This is the second time a professional "weekend master's program" opened at TSU – the first was Faculty of Geology and Geography. Pictured: defense on the TSU master's program "Risks in Software Engineering"

Science on the frontier

The practice-oriented "weekend master's degree program" is one part of the big story of changing IT education in Tomsk. The other "side of the coin" is research in Computer Science, which is on the frontier.

"We're trying to organize a new quality research process at the school, but to do that, we need to really get back into the world's agenda. Not to finish bits and pieces of Soviet greatness, but to install the right protocol that answers the most pressing questions of computer science. How to do this? To start with, organize a movement around frontier topics and look for ways to connect to frontier groups. We're trying both", – says Zmeev.

© предоставлено Олегом Змеевым
"In Computer Science right now you have to be very flexible – what a scientist studies in this field will lose relevance very quickly. That's what we're trying to bring up in students: mastering a new stack (professional or scientific) is your main professional skill", – says Zmeev.
According to Zmeev, connecting to the research of the world's leading groups while in Tomsk turned out to be unexpectedly easy – the "six handshake theory" worked:

"There is a very cool expert in computer science – Professor Ivar Jacobson from Sweden. Newton of modern software engineering, one of the members of the famous "Gang of Three", which laid the theoretical foundations of the entire world of object-oriented technology.

We have often said in the public space that we are trying to do research on topics that interest him now. And so, at the IT City conference, we met a guy from St. Petersburg whose research supervisor knows Jacobson. We got to know him first, and then the other. We show how serious our intentions are. As a result, we now have a graduate student who communicates with Jacobson every week.

© сайт Томского государственного университета
Another example of proper goal-setting is the organization of a series of seminars on frontier topics. This happened with neural networks, and the initiative in this case came from our partner – the company NTR, which has an R&D department on this topic. The company asks – are you interested? We say yes. The result was a joint workshop between NTR and HITs, which has been going on regularly for a year now.

"Every week about 150 people gather, sometimes the zoom doesn't accommodate everyone who wants to attend! During that time, we've held more than 30 webinars with more than 500 participants. We managed to provide a very high level of speakers who represent the world's leading universities – MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Cambridge, New York University, Skoltech, HSE and others. And, of course, at these seminars in this reputable company, we show our results", – says Zmeev.

He emphasizes: in this case, and in the entire history of the school, the inclusion of business partners is fundamentally important:

"Nikolay Mikhailovsky, Director of NTR, was one of those who supported our school at the start, and four years ago no one knew whether we would succeed or not. Nothing would have happened if the IT business had not believed in our cool (but adventurous) idea of a professional school at the university. If it was not for Ivan Kudryavtsev and the company Bitworks, Alexey Miryutov from CFT, Evgeny Yerin from KODE...

Everyone took a risk: we risked our reputation and time, they risked some money (each company invested about a million rubles in our educational startup). The ability to put the corporate game together, share risks and be partners is something that universities and businesses in our country are not very good at, and this is the school's experience, which can be used as a successful case study".

© предоставлено Олегом Змеевым
"Nine people (from the very first) HITs course came to us for internships and served almost as the main driving force in saving of an important state system. Now we finish selecting the next generation of HITs trainees, and we have plenty of plans for the next 25 years", – says Nikolay Mikhailovsky.

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