Thompson Rivers University

Engineering the future with software

July 4, 2018

Brian Burciaga, Software Engineering student and technology aficionado.

The first thing that sparked the interest of second-year TRU engineering student Brian Burciaga when it came to technology was his iPod touch he got when he was in Grade 6. “I couldn’t believe that something so small could do so much.”

He was introduced to basic programming languages in high school. Even then, he knew he wanted a career where he could help people and use his love for technology, which led him to TRU’s  Software Engineering program.

The new Bachelor of Software Engineering program is gearing up so students like Burciaga can be trained to become technological innovators that build the future of software. Software engineering is in the top 10 fastest-growing and high-demand careers in Canada and is expected to stay on that track for the next 10 years. Companies from small, local start-ups to brand names like Microsoft and Apple hire software engineers to build on their current products and create new cutting-edge software.

The TRU Engineering difference

Dr Faheem Ahmed, chair of Applied Science and Engineering, worked as a software engineer for 10 years and has been teaching software engineering for more than a decade. For him, his industry and academic experience come together to culminate in the new Software Engineering program.

Burciaga has been studying engineering through the Engineering Transfer program which has been offered at TRU for the past 30 years. Students have been able to complete their first one or two years of engineering courses at TRU, then finish their degree at another university.  This new program allows students to complete their education at TRU, so they can remain in smaller classes and get hands-on work experience that may not be offered elsewhere. Burciaga said his favourite things about studying at TRU are the small class sizes and faculty members’ open office hours, which Ahmed says the university prides themselves on maintaining and having available for students. Engineering is a concentrated and challenging program, so extra support from professors is an asset.

Computer Science versus Software Engineering

Software engineering is a unique program in BC, as it’s only offered at TRU and one other institution in the province. TRU’s program is designed to zero in on practical applications of the theory and knowledge students learn, including mandatory Co-op work terms in the third and fourth years. Ahmed said there is a big contrast between it and the Computer Science program.

“One is focused on theory and the other on the practical application of the theory – turning theory into a tangible concept,” he said.

Burciaga is considering pursuing a career in building security systems and work on something fun like video game development as a hobby. Ultimately, he wants to be a part of the future of technology and make the world better. Something he wants people to know about engineering is the effect it has on the safety of the public.

“I want to help further technology and have a career that benefits people. As an engineer, you are doing work that if not done correctly can be harmful to people. When you are building houses, bridges or electrical systems, there are people depending on the work you are doing.”

To apply for the program and for more information, visit the Software Engineering website or contact Dr Faheem Ahmed.

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