Palestinian companies were invited to meet with the Birzeit University Faculty of Information Technology on December 6, 2012 to discuss preparations for a new MSc program in software engineering funded by TEMPUS, a project of the European Union. The goal of the meeting was to involve the private sector in a needs assessment for developing the program which is the first of its kind at any Palestinian university and aims at jointly developing an MSc in Software Engineering curriculum that will be deployed by six universities in partner countries to better equip IT professionals for a career in the global software development. It is important to note here that BZU is the grant holder and coordinator of the project.
Dean of the Information Technology Faculty, Ali Jaber, welcomed the participating companies to the meeting. “This software engineering program is considered a dramatic shift in teaching Information Technology in Palestine,” Jaber told the group, “as the introduction of this program will meet labor market requirements and the needs of academic institutions and local and international companies for a qualified and competent workforce to join the fields of computer and software engineering and information technology.” The program emphasizes specialization, leadership and contributions to business development that allows interaction and adaptation between the interrelated and interconnected areas of computer engineering, computer science, and information and communication technology.
Project manager, Yousif Hassouneh, introduced the three-year program. It “aims to improve the quality of teaching [concerning] software engineering in Palestinian and Egyptian universities, where three Palestinian universities including the Islamic University in Gaza, Al-Quds University and Birzeit University--the initiating university of the project in Palestine--will participate,” he said.
Four European universities in Italy, Germany, Britain and Greece will work hand-in-hand with these Palestinian universities and three universities in Egypt to build the software engineering MSc program so that it meets local market needs and international standards for software engineering.
Project coordinator, Iyad Tomar, spoke about the work mechanism for the program. “In the beginning,” he explained, “we will examine the market and [conduct a] needs assessment to develop the content of 12 courses for the Master in Software Engineering program and prepare the teaching and research staff to teach its courses by organizing short educational visits to European universities.”
“A general framework will be created to manage the relationship between the MSc in software engineering program and the industry,” Tomar said, “in order to ensure a complementary relationship that contributes to developing and upgrading the Palestinian software industry by meeting its scientific and daily needs.”
The TEMPUS program is a European Community program that supports the modernization of higher education and creates an area of co-operation in countries surrounding the European Union.