LiU’s first master’s graduate in software engineering

Simon Lindblad is celebrating the summer and his master’s degree in engineering with a roadtrip across the US. He recently qualified as master of science in computer science and software engineering, the first to do so, specialising in AI and machine learning.

Simon LindbladSimon Lindblad Photo credit: Private“I don’t think anyone will have problems finding a job in Linköping after this programme”, says Simon Lindblad, as he describes the emails and telephone calls he received from recruitment agencies in the region as he approached graduation.

The Master of Science programme in Computer Science and Software Engineering was the first of its type in Sweden, when it started in the autumn of 2013. It was a response to an intense requirement from industry that had identified a huge need for broad-based software skills. They needed people with expertise within data-driven decision making, the management of large-scale systems, mobile and social applications, and – not least – within AI and machine learning.

High pressure of applications

Thirty places were available for the first admission, but the pressure of applications was so high that 45 students were admitted. After a couple of years, the admission was increased to 60. Pressure has remained high, and in the autumn of 2018 the programme had more than three applicants for each place.

“Immediately after upper secondary school in Växjö, where I grew up, I was looking at various programmes, but I couldn’t find anything exactly right, so I decided to take a gap year. At the end of the year, the master’s programme in computer science and software engineering appeared at Linköping University, and it was exactly what I was looking for”, he says.

Simon Lindblad was not disappointed: his high expectations have been fully satisfied.
“The work became increasingly interesting as we progressed to master’s courses. And artificial intelligence and machine learning were early components of the courses”, he says.

Project work in the first AI course

Choosing a completely new educational programme involves a certain risk, but Simon Lindblad has not experienced any major problems. Some courses were adopted from other programmes and had been running for many years, while others were completely new.

“The most obvious thing about the programme being new was that the workload was very uneven, we could have a lot of individual work on one course while at the same time the timetable was full of other components. But I have heard from later years that this has been fixed. And the course supervisors paid careful attention to our points of view”, he says.

Project work in a group was brought into play as early as the first AI course.

“We had a football competition with the humanoid robots, and it was great fun.”

One year in Singapore

Further AI projects have come up during the programme. During the fourth year, Simon Lindblad chose to study computer science at the National University of Singapore, NUS, which included courses in AI, machine learning, and project work.

Simon Lindblad on his roadtrip in the USSimon Lindblad on his roadtrip in the US Photo credit: Private“I learnt an incredible amount by having to look after myself in a totally different culture for a year! I can really recommend it to anyone who’s considering it”, he says.

When we spoke to him, Simon Lindblad was travelling through the steel city of Pittsburgh in the eastern USA, on his roadtrip from west to east. His journey will bring him home in just over a week’s time, or rather to the new job in Oslo. His wish to travel and see the world is also one of the reasons that Microsoft is his first employer after graduating.

“A friend recommended me, and they invited me in for an interview. I wanted to work at a large company with the opportunity to travel around the world, and Microsoft is working on some very interesting things”, he says.

The best about the programme

But when asked what was best about the programme in computer science and software engineering, he doesn’t mention the highly applicable knowledge in various programming languages, the interesting projects within AI, the guest lectures and the company-sponsored evenings. He doesn’t even mention the degree project in machine learning at the Mjärdevi-based company Sectra. His reply deals with something much more important.

“I have developed confidence in solving problems and I have a solid foundation on which I can depend while rapidly picking up new areas and learning new things. I’m convinced that I have a truly modern education and a wide network. I’m going to keep contact with many people, from both Linköping and Singapore.”

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