Education initiatives at SAP Labs Bulgaria
How It Started
About two years ago, it happened that I met with a couple of colleagues in the Lab that turned out to share my passion for teaching students. We brainstormed about the gaps in university education in Bulgaria and the unique knowledge and experience we could share, and we decided to join forces. Back then, no one thought that our small group of volunteers was destined to quickly grow in size and scope
SAP Labs Bulgaria Education Center
What started out small grew into the SAP Labs Bulgaria Education Center that we know today. It is an ever-growing community of volunteers that teach, train and inspire students in Bulgaria’s best universities and high schools. It has 30+ members, is completely self-organized and is the largest and most active community of volunteers at our Lab.
We decided to start teaching a course that best matched our expertise: Building Business Applications Using Java EE. In one year it reached more than 250 students from two universities. Our courses “portfolio” grew with every following semester, including technical, soft- and project management skills.
Today our volunteers support students as scientific advisors with defining, creating and defending their theses. As one of the major gaps in university education is actual practical experience, a logical next step was hosting students at our own facilities.
This led to one of our most successful education initiatives, the Student Summer Practices that were organized in July for the third consecutive year. We welcomed an impressive group of around 200 students from the two major Bulgarian universities. The students went through an intensive lectures curriculum, then formed teams and developed business applications supported by SAP mentors.
Besides running full university courses, we are invited more and more often to provide Guest lectures in Universities, conferences and even Job Fairs. The topics are in modern technical and non-technical IT areas like: Cloud Computing, In-Memory Systems, Internet of Things, Intellectual Property, Design Thinking, Usability and User Experience which are relevant for students’ understanding of where the IT industry is headed.
Outside of the classroom and lectures our volunteers like to get their hands dirty by organizing and mentoring coding competitions, hackathons and startup ecosystem events like SAP CodeJam, BEST Engineering Week, Rising Stars of Junior Achievement, HackFMI, Startup Weekend Mobile, etc. The experience keeps us on our toes and gives us insight into how the students solve and approach different problems.
Our plans for the coming year are to expand the set of courses, topics, formats and target audiences, and to train both Bulgarian and foreign students. We are also about to kick-off trainings and competitions targeted to high-school students. We all believe that to teach is to learn twice! A great new generation is coming, we can help them grow today into future IT professionals.
@Everyone: Inspire, teach, train, code, and have fun!