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Why the job prospects of computer scientists may soon be looking up

A new professional doctorate could give Concordia students a boost in the private sector
March 5, 2014
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By Tom Peacock

Currently, 80 per cent of PhD graduates from Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science take on jobs in industry. Currently, 80 per cent of PhD graduates from Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science take on jobs in industry. A professional doctorate could provide them with the appropriate training. | Photo by Concordia University


Brigitte Jaumard, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, knows that one way to boost students’ post-graduation job prospects is to make sure they have the skills industry is after.

With this objective in mind, she has set out to establish a new professional doctorate in computer science and software engineering specifically designed to prepare graduates for careers in the private sector. And she’s using the university’s new Curriculum Innovation Fund to make it a reality.

Jaumard’s proposal was among the first submitted to the fund, which was created to support faculty members as they explore new ways to improve classes and teaching methods. This joint effort of the Office of the Provost and the School of Graduate Studies upholds the commitment the university made in the Academic Plan to providing students with dynamic programs and engaging learning experiences.

As Jaumard explains, students in her proposed program would conduct independent research while working closely with sponsor organizations.

“The idea is not to train students so that they will satisfy all the criteria of the industry, but to offer them better training with respect to the way they will work and conduct research in an industrial environment.”

Jaumard — the Concordia Research Chair in the Optimization of Communication Networks — notes that currently 80 per cent of PhD graduates from the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science take on jobs in industry.

“I hope that this new program will be perceived as a good fit with the needs of the job market,” she says.

According to Catherine Bolton, vice-provost of Teaching and Learning, the new graduate degree is exactly the sort of proposal the Curriculum Innovation Fund was created to support.

Brigitte Jaumard
Brigitte Jaumard: “I hope this program will be seen as a good fit with the needs of the job market.” | Photo: David Ward

“Here's a very interesting program that other institutions have, and we don't have it yet,” Bolton says. “Should we? Maybe yes, maybe no. The fund will allow Professor Jaumard to find out whether this will answer a need within the engineering community.”

To that end, Jaumard plans to use the support she receives from the fund to visit universities where professional PhDs have already been developed and to establish industrial partnerships. She will focus on attracting support from small and medium-size businesses that are likely to need additional research help to remain competitive.

“That's where there is probably a bigger need, especially since we’re not asking for a large amount of support in return,” she says.

Encouraged by the response she has received so far, Jaumard says she aims to submit the program proposal for internal approval by June of this year.

“If you want to build a program, and you don’t want it to take forever, you need the support of your own university,” she says. “With this fund, that’s what Concordia is offering us.”

The Curriculum Innovation Fund has two tracks: course transformation and program transformation. Successful applicants receive a maximum of $10,000 from the total envelope of $175,000. The next application deadline is Monday, March 17, 2014.

Learn more about the Curriculum Innovation Fund.

 



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