The new master’s degree course in digitalisation, innovation and information management offers students hands-on experience of working with companies on digital challenges. There are certainly no boring lectures here.
Almost every company has heard of digitalisation by now and will have recognised the signs of the times. But does that mean that they are ready for it? Not at all – many find it difficult to integrate the growing use of digital technologies into their business, as they lack both the expertise and the skilled personnel. Many challenges are brand new, and many questions remain unanswered. The new course at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences gives students the skills they need to help these companies to make the most of the digital age.
Digitalisation is a fast-moving field, and the aspects that are important today will be out of date by tomorrow. The course is structured with this in mind – it responds to the latest topics and conveys information in the context of current trends. Instead of lengthy lectures, it dives straight in: from the outset, students work on a practical project that lasts two semesters and represents the bulk of the course duration.
The first group of students, who are starting in the 2017 academic year, are working with local software service provider ABAT, where they are optimising goods transports for a logistics company. ABAT supports them with expertise and advice, but the development of ideas and their implementation is down to the students. “Students pair up into ‘tandems’ and work on the task in small projects in real-world conditions. They monitor costs, budget and profitability and ensure that the solution is feasible for the company. It has to work,” Professor Legenhausen explains. He is the course leader and one of the brains behind the new degree course at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences.
Half of the students in each academic year are either computer science or economics graduates. The first academic year has 20 students. The benefit of this mix is that students learn to work across disciplines. “This is a vital skill in the digital age. New technologies can only be developed if everyone at the company is pulling in the same direction, irrespective of hierarchies and departments. That’s why the tandems are always mixed,” Legenhausen adds. The course is open to graduates in disciplines such as computer science, business informatics, business studies, cruise tourism management and transport/logistics.
“Not at all,” Legenhausen says. Alumni are free to set priorities in their studies to match their specialism, whether it is computer science or business administration. The objective is to work across disciplines. “In business administration, we strive to make forecasts as accurate as possible, and digital technologies enable us to achieve that. That’s why business administration students need to learn how to use digital technologies,” Legenhausen explains. Conversely, computer science graduates gain a better understanding of commercial and business processes, which gives them the skills to manage digitalisation projects. That is why the course offers an MSc and an MA option.
There are seminars and colloquia on digital commerce and accounting, business process management, entrepreneurship and the digitalisation of logistics. One module is dedicated to cutting-edge technology and scientific research on the growing use of digital technologies. Students also learn how to deal with the dangers inherent in IT systems. This covers IT security, protection from cyberattacks and social aspects of Industry 4.0: what is its impact on how we work, how are companies dealing with data protection and data monitoring, and what impact does that have on online behaviour?
Digitalisation as a subject for academic study is still in its infancy in Germany, and only a handful of universities offer similar courses. The course in Bremerhaven is a prime example of this development thanks to its excellent links to local companies and to universities in Bremen. And students are becoming increasingly aware of this. Although the two-week application period for the first academic year was very short, 55 students applied for the 20 available places.
“I really enjoy the interaction between business administration and computer science, both on a functional level and on a personal level with my fellow students,” Juliane Fricke says. The business administration student moved from Celle to Bremerhaven to do her bachelor’s degree. She hopes the new master’s degree will enable her to act as an interface between business and IT. “The course is forward-thinking, and I enjoy the close relationship with the tutors,” she says, before adding with a chuckle: “But the computer science element is pretty challenging!”
Definitely. Legenhausen is still looking for other companies to join the practical projects, either as a mentor or a project partner, for future academic years. The professor is also open to smaller ideas: “Interesting practical projects are always welcome on the digitalisation course, or any of the other courses offered by Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences. The companies involved not only benefit from new ideas and projects but can also connect with promising young talent.”
You can find further information on the Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences website. The Masters Degree is currently offered only in German.
Professor Claas Legenhausen
Find more about the IT business in Bremen in our article: Seven good reasons to base your IT business in Bremen
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