Thursday, August 12, 2010

On specialized graduate degree programs

Recently I came across several specialized programs, one of them is the master degree in De Paul university entitled "Master of Science in Predictive Analytics" that is sponsored by IBM; the other is a planned transatlantic master degree in collaboration between three European universities and three Canadians universities to pursue a collaborative program around BPM, in which event processing is one of the components. There are people who are strong supporters of specialized degrees, and there are also some opponents. Somewhere in the 1990-ies, I have been a member in a committee of the Israeli Higher Education Council, whose role has been to evaluate a new department (and degree programs) in one of the Israeli universities called "communication systems engineering", at that time this program has been controversial, the supporters claimed that it is the best education to a much needed profession, while the opponents claimed that it will create engineers with two narrow focus, and in general an engineer need to be more broad minded. At the end we recommended to approve this program, and it still exists, however, in some of the more conservative universities, it could not have happened.

Nowadays we have some tension between depth and breadth, and I guess that this is more of person own inclination where does the person classifies him/herself on the breadth vs. depth axis. The answer is not black and white, some roles are better occupied by people with depth and deep expertise, some roles are better occupied by people with very broad professional education. Of course, there are people who succeed to have both. Personally I prefer persons that are very good at something over persons that are mediocre in everything, moreover, one of the common mistakes of enterprises in employees development is to try and strengthen areas in which the employee is weak, in many cases, it is more effective to strengthen areas in which the employee is already strong, to challenge the employee to achieve excellence (unless the weakness is in a fundamental area that is critical for the employee's success).

Anyway, each of these programs will have to find its focus to create expertise in order to succeed.

1 comment:

Rainer v. Ammon said...

The universities will be changed heavily within the next years, although some professors don't realize it or don't like to recognize it, see Bill Gates forecast, Aug 6, 2010:

Actually this was one of the ideas of our Cloudbox-proposal on the basis of a specialized Master Course "Event-Driven Business Process Management" to the European Commission FP/7, Call 5, Unit 4.2 Technology-Enhanced-Learning/Live Long Learning
(Unfortunately, it didn't make it as IP, but perhaps we will retry with a new idea)

where we showed that you would need 2 years or 4 semesters at least to teach the needed skills and that there would not be a single university or even a single country which would be able to teach the skills alone and in a traditional way, see link to the curriculum, slide 27:

At present, the European Commission is looking for new Courses of Study in connection with the European Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship Initiative 2020 and Beyond where we will need a lot of new skilled people for such technologies _and their collaboration_ for the next 15 years and beyond. We are working on one of the two or three flagships which should start 2013 - perhaps under the umbrella of Ubiquitous Complex Event Processing (U-CEP). We also submitted a workshop for the 3rd ServiceWave 2010, 13 Dec, Ghent where we will try to bring together some of the relevant people:

If the workshop is approved, all your followers would be welcome to contribute in some roles as co-organizer, pc-member, panelist, author. We would organize it in a lively manner, not as death by powerpoint presentations only, but e.g. on the basis of the World Cafe method

Presently there is a another open call:

2010 Call for proposals: EACEA/22/10

We suggest a cooperation with Israel, e.g. Haifa Technion and University of Marburg, based on Ubiquitous Complex Event Processing (U-CEP) and an according Master or PhD double degree. Europe urgently needs skilled people for the Future and Emerging Technologies according to the ISTAG Recommendations We are also already in contact with T3 of Haifa Technion University in order to discuss some entrepreneur ideas in the field of U-CEP.