Nastaran Bajalan: advancing software engineering knowledge while being part of the industry.
Nastaran is a Software Technology PDEng trainee at Eindhoven University of Technology. She comes from Iran, where she completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science at Shahid Beheshti University. So why did she choose to do a PDEng? During her master’s, she was working in the industry as a full-stack developer and software engineer. When she compared research and job positions, she discovered that she would like to see the results in real-world applications rather than focusing on fundamental research. So, the most important factor in choosing a PDEng was to advance her software engineering knowledge while being part of the industry.
A second important reason was her wish to work more with other people and improve her soft skills, which is one of the main areas of focus in PDEng programs. And last, but not least, the salary. In emigrating to the Netherlands she needed a paid position for this purpose. Other appealing factors in choosing the PDEng included the country of the program and the companies that the programs work with.
What about a PhD?
Like many PDEng trainees she considered doing a PhD as well. She had already done some research work and wanted to move from computer science to the software field to do more research in AI (Artificial Intelligence). However, she felt a PhD for 3 years would not be a useful step because, eventually, she wanted to continue her career in industry.
Also, PhD candidates tend to work in smaller groups whereas Nastaran’s learning goal in doing high-level education is to get in touch with people and improve her communication skills.
The added value of the PDEng program
Nastaran is clear about the added value of the PDEng program. She lists them as:
· Working with high-tech companies and gaining experience with real-world software solutions.
· The one-week workshops and the new knowledge gained frequently from coaches.
· Getting to work with a lot of tools and software available only to industries
· Getting to work in different roles such as software architect, scrum master, project manager and engineer in the projects.
· Learning to maintain the work-life balance from the supplementary workshops provided by the program
· Getting to work with the Automotive System Design PDEng program
· Certificates from the workshops and projects
What has she been doing in her PDEng traineeship the past few months
During the last few months, Nastaran and her fellow trainees have been working on their third in-house project with European Space Agency, for which she was the software architect. They also have deep learning, a corporate report writing workshop and professional development sessions.
At the time of writing, she is doing her PDEng project at ASML in the Netherlands, the leading supplier to the semiconductor industry worldwide.
She likes being part of the university
She loves TU/e’s high-tech environment and the way she has access to the infrastructure, software and advanced coaching sessions. She also appreciates how sustainable the university is. According to Nastaran, “The university is very focused on maintaining work-life balance for employees and there are all kinds of social events where I can experience pure fun with colleagues from other fields.”
Although the communication between the different educational tracks such as PhDs and PDEngs is maintained via different social events and you have access to other people when needed, she would like to see different programs work together directly on projects.
Nastaran’s advice for those who are interested in doing a PDEng
Nastaran: “If you want to gain a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time and master them by applying them in a real-world setting, a PDEng is the best option. But you should keep in mind that just liking is not enough; it requires perseverance and paying close attention in workshops and sessions with coaches. This way you will make academic and industrial connections, have fun, and pave your career path to industry. And don’t forget all the opportunities for research and writing papers that will come your way during the project but for which you will not have enough time 😉.”