Software engineering tackles designing, testing, and maintaining software (programs). This branch involves many technologies and tools that assist in the process of creating programs for many different niches.

Here, we’ll provide an answer to the “What is software engineering?” question. We’ll also explain the key concepts related to it, the skills required to become a software engineer, and introduce you to career opportunities.

Basics of Software Engineering

History and Evolution of Software Engineering

Before digging into the nitty-gritty behind software engineering, let’s have a (very short) history lesson.

We can say that software engineering is relatively young compared to many other industries: it was “born” in 1963. Margaret Hamilton, an American computer scientist, was working on the software for the Apollo spacecraft. It was she who coined the term “software engineer” to describe her work at the time.

Two NATO software engineering conferences took place a few years later, confirming the industry’s significance and allowing it to find its place under the computer-science sun.

During the 1980s, software engineering was widely recognized in many countries and by various experts. Since then, the field has advanced immensely thanks to technological developments. It’s used in many spheres and offers a wide array of benefits.

Different Types of Software

What software does software engineering really tackle? You won’t be wrong if you say all software. But learning about the actual types can’t hurt:

  • System software – This software powers a computer system. It gives life to computer hardware and represents the “breeding ground” for applications. The most basic example of system software is an operating system like Windows or Linux.
  • Application software – This is what you use to listen to music, create a document, edit a photo, watch a movie, or perform any other action on your computer.
  • Embedded software – This is specialized software found in an embedded device that controls its specific functions.

Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

What does the life of software look like? Let’s analyze the key stages.

Planning and Analysis

During this stage, experts analyze the market, clients’ needs, customers’ input, and other factors. Then, they compile this information to plan the software’s development and measure its feasibility. This is also the time when experts identify potential risks and brainstorm solutions.

Design

Now it’s time to create a design plan, i.e., design specification. This plan will go to stakeholders, who will review it and offer feedback. Although it may seem trivial, this stage is crucial to ensure everyone’s on the same page. If that’s not the case, the whole project could collapse in the blink of an eye.

Implementation

After everyone gives the green light, software engineers start developing the software. This stage is called “implementation” and it’s the longest part of the life cycle. Engineers can make the process more efficient by dividing it into smaller, more “digestible” chunks.

Testing

Before the software reaches its customers, you need to ensure it’s working properly, hence the testing stage. Here, testers check the software for errors, bugs, and issues. This can also be a great learning stage for inexperienced testers, who can observe the process and pick up on the most common issues.

Deployment

The deployment stage involves launching the software on the market. Before doing that, engineers will once again check with stakeholders to see if everything’s good to go. They may make some last-minute changes depending on the provided feedback.

Maintenance

Just because software is on the market doesn’t mean it can be neglected. Every software requires some degree of care. If not maintained regularly, the software can malfunction and cause various issues. Besides maintenance, engineers ensure the software is updated. Since the market is evolving rapidly, it’s necessary to introduce new features to the software to ensure it fulfills the customers’ needs.

Key Concepts in Software Engineering

Those new to the software engineering world often feel overwhelmed by the number of concepts thrown at them. But this can also happen to seasoned engineers who are switching jobs and/or industries. Whatever your situation, here are the basic concepts you should acquire.

Requirements Engineering

Requirements engineering is the basis for developing software. It deals with listening and understanding the customers’ needs, putting them on paper, and defining them. These needs are turned into clearly organized requirements for efficient software development.

Software Design Principles

Modularity

Software engineers break down the software into sections (modules) to make the process easier, quicker, more detailed, and independent.

Abstraction

Most software users don’t want to see the boring details about the software they’re using. Being the computer wizards they are, software engineers wave their magic wand to hide the more “abstract” information about the software and highlight other aspects customers consider more relevant.

Encapsulation

Encapsulation refers to grouping certain data together into a single unit. It also represents the process when software engineers put specific parts of the software in a secure bubble so that they’re protected from external changes.

Coupling and Cohesion

These two concepts define a software’s functionality, maintainability, and reliability. They denote how much software modules depend on each other and how elements within one module work together.

Software Development Methodologies

Waterfall

The basic principle of the waterfall methodology is to have the entire software development process run smoothly using a sequential approach. Each stage of the life cycle we discussed above needs to be fully completed before the next one begins.

Agile Methodologies

With agile methodologies, the focus is on speed, collaboration, efficiency, and high customer satisfaction. Team members work together and aim for continual improvement by applying different agile strategies.

DevOps

DevOps (development + operations) asks the question, “What can be done to improve an organization’s capability to develop software faster?” It’s basically a set of tools and practices that automate different aspects of the software development process and make the work easier.

Quality Assurance and Testing

Software engineers don’t just put the software in use as soon as they wrap up the design stage. Before the software gets the green light, its quality needs to be tested. This process involves testing every aspect of the software to ensure it’s good to go.

Software Maintenance and Evolution

Humans are capable of adapting their behavior depending on the situation. Let’s suppose it’s really cold outside, even though it’s summer. Chances are, you won’t go out in a T-shirt and a pair of shorts. And if you catch a cold due to cold weather, you’ll take precautions (drink tea, visit a doctor, or take medicine).

While humans can interpret new situations and “update” their behavior, the software doesn’t work that way. They can’t fix themselves or change how they function. That’s why they need leaders, a.k.a. software engineers, who can keep them in tip-top shape and ensure they’re on top of the new trends.

Essential Skills for Software Engineers

What do you need to be a software engineer?

Programming Languages

If you can’t “speak” a programming language, you can’t develop software. Here are a few of the most popular languages:

  • Java – It runs on various platforms and uses C and C++.
  • Python – A general-purpose programming language that is a classic among software engineers.
  • C++ – An object-oriented language that almost all computers contain, so you can understand its importance.
  • JavaScript – A programming language that can handle complex tasks and is one of the web’s three key technologies.

Problem-Solving and Critical Skills

A software engineer needs to be able to look at the bigger picture, identify a problem, and see what it can be done to resolve it.

Communication and Collaboration

Developing software isn’t a one-man job. You need to communicate and collaborate with other team members if you want the best results.

Time Management and Organization

Software engineers often race against the clock to complete tasks. They need to have excellent organizational and time management skills to prevent being late.

Continuous Learning and Adaptability

Technology evolves rapidly, and you need to do that as well if you want to stay current.

Career Opportunities in Software Engineering

Job Roles and Titles

  • Software Developer – If you love to get all technical and offer the world practical solutions for their problems, this is the perfect job role.
  • Software Tester – Do you like checking other people’s work? Software testing may be the way to go.
  • Software Architect – The position involves planning, analyzing, and organizing, so if you find that interesting, check it out.
  • Project Manager – If you see yourself supervising every part of the process and ensuring it’s completed with flying colors, this is the ideal position.

Industries and Sectors

  • Technology – Many software engineers find their dream jobs in the technology industry. Whether developing software for their employer’s needs or working with a major client, software engineers leave a permanent mark on this industry.
  • Finance – From developing credit card software to building major financial education software, working as a software engineer in this industry can be rewarding (and very lucrative).
  • Healthcare – Software engineers may not be doctors, but they can save lives. They can create patient portals, cloud systems, or consumer health apps and improve the entire healthcare industry with their work.
  • Entertainment – The entertainment industry would collapse without software engineers who develop content streaming apps, video games, animations, and much more.

Education and Certifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field – Many on-campus and online universities and institutes offer bachelor’s degree programs that could set you up for success in the industry.
  • Professional certifications – These certifications can be a great starting point or a way to strengthen the skills you already have.
  • Online courses and boot camps – Various popular platforms (think Coursera and Udemy) offer excellent software engineering courses.

Hop on the Software Engineering Train

There’s something special and rewarding about knowing you’ve left your mark in this world. As a software engineer, you can improve the lives of millions of people and create simple solutions to seemingly complicated problems.

If you want to make your work even more meaningful and reap the many benefits this industry offers, you need to improve your skills constantly and follow the latest trends.

Related posts

Il Sole 24 Ore: 100 thousand IT professionals missing
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
May 14, 2024 6 min read

Written on April 24th 2024

Source here: Il Sole 24 Ore (full article in Italian)


Open Institute of Technology: 100 thousand IT professionals missing

Eurostat data processed and disseminated by OPIT. Stem disciplines: the share of graduates in Italy between the ages of 20 and 29 is 18.3%, compared to the European 21.9%

Today, only 29% of young Italians between 25 and 34 have a degree. Not only that: compared to other European countries, the comparison is unequal given that the average in the Old Continent is 46%, bringing Italy to the penultimate place in this ranking, ahead only of Romania. The gap is evident even if the comparison is limited to STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) where the share of graduates in Italy between the ages of 20 and 29 is 18.3%, compared to the European 21.9%, with peaks of virtuosity which in the case of France that reaches 29.2%. Added to this is the continuing problem of the mismatch between job supply and demand, so much so that 62.8% of companies struggle to find professionals in the technological and IT fields.

The data

The Eurostat data was processed and disseminated by OPIT – Open Institute of Technology. an academic institution accredited at European level, active in the university level education market with online Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the technological and digital fields. We are therefore witnessing a phenomenon with worrying implications on the future of the job market in Italy and on the potential loss of competitiveness of our companies at a global level, especially if inserted in a context in which the macroeconomic scenario in the coming years will undergo a profound discontinuity linked to the arrival of “exponential” technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and robotics, but also to the growing threats related to cybersecurity.

Requirements and updates

According to European House Ambrosetti, over 2,000,000 professionals will have to update their skills in the Digital and IT area by 2026, also to take advantage of the current 100,000 vacant IT positions, as estimated by Frank Recruitment Group. But not only that: the Italian context, which is unfavorable for providing the job market with graduates and skills, also has its roots in the chronic birth rate that characterizes our country: according to ISTAT data, in recent years the number of newborns has fallen by 28%, bringing Italy’s birth rate to 1.24, among the lowest in Europe, where the average is 1.46.

Profumo: “Structural deficiency”

“The chronic problem of the absence of IT professionals is structural and of a dual nature: on one hand the number of newborns – therefore, potential “professionals of the future” – is constantly decreasing; on the other hand, the percentage of young people who acquires degrees are firmly among the lowest in Europe”, declared Francesco Profumo, former Minister of Education and rector of OPIT – Open Institute of Technology. “The reasons are varied: from the cost of education (especially if undertaken off-site), to a university offering that is poorly aligned with changes in society, to a lack of awareness and orientation towards STEM subjects, which guarantee the highest employment rates. Change necessarily involves strong investments in the university system (and, in general, in the education system) at the level of the country, starting from the awareness that a functioning education system is the main driver of growth and development in the medium to long term. It is a debated and discussed topic on which, however, a clear and ambitious position is never taken.”

Stagnant context and educational offer

In this stagnant context, the educational offer that comes from online universities increasingly meets the needs of flexibility, quality and cost of recently graduated students, university students looking for specialization and workers interested in updating themselves with innovative skills. According to data from the Ministry of University and Research, enrollments in accredited online universities in Italy have grown by over 141 thousand units in ten years (since 2011), equal to 293.9%. Added to these are the academic institutions accredited at European level, such as OPIT, whose educational offering is overall capable of opening the doors to hundreds of thousands of students, with affordable costs and extremely innovative and updated degree paths.

Analyzing the figures

An analysis of Eurostat statistics relating to the year 2021 highlights that 27% of Europeans aged between 16 and 74 have attended an entirely digital course. The highest share is recorded in Ireland (46%), Finland and Sweden (45%) and the Netherlands (44%). The lowest in Romania (10%), Bulgaria (12%) and Croatia (18%). Italy is at 20%. “With OPIT” – adds Riccardo Ocleppo, founder and director – “we have created a new model of online academic institution, oriented towards new technologies, with innovative programs, a strong practical focus, and an international approach, with professors and students from 38 countries around the world, and teaching in English. We intend to train Italian students not only on current and updated skills, but to prepare them for an increasingly dynamic and global job market. Our young people must be able to face the challenges of the future like those who study at Stanford or Oxford: with solid skills, but also with relational and attitudinal skills that lead them to create global companies and startups or work in multinationals like their international colleagues. The increasing online teaching offer, if well structured and with quality, represents an incredible form of democratization of education, making it accessible at low costs and with methods that adapt to the flexibility needs of many working students.”

Point of reference

With two degrees already starting in September 2023 – a three-year degree (BSc) in Modern Computer Science and a specialization (MSc) in Applied Data Science & AI – and 4 starting in September 2024: a three-year degree (BSc) in Digital Business, and the specializations (MSc) in Enterprise Cybersecurity, Applied Digital Business and Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI), OPIT is an academic institution of reference for those who intend to respond to the demands of a job market increasingly oriented towards the field of artificial intelligence. Added to this are a high-profile international teaching staff and an exclusively online educational offer focused on the technological and digital fields.

Read the article
Times of India: The 600,000 IT job shortage in India and how to solve it
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
May 2, 2024 3 min read

Written on April 25th 2024

Source here: Times of India 


The job market has never been a straightforward path. Ask anyone who has ever looked for a job, certainly within the last decade, and they can tell you as much. But with the rapid development of AI and machine learning, concerns are growing for people about their career options, with a report from Randstad finding that 7 in 10 people in India are concerned about their job being eliminated by AI.

 Employers have their own share of concerns. According to The World Economic Forum, 97 million new AI-related jobs will be created by 2025 and the share of jobs requiring AI skills will increase by 58%. The IT industry in India is experiencing a tremendous surge in demand for skilled professionals on disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, cybersecurity and, according to Nasscom, this is leading to a shortage of 600,000 profiles.

 So how do we fill those gaps? Can we democratize access to top-tier higher education in technology?

These are the questions that Riccardo Ocleppo, the engineer who founded a hugely successful ed-tech platform connecting international students with global Universities, Docsity, asked himself for years. Until he took action and launched the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), together with the Former Minister of Education of Italy, Prof. Francesco Profumo, to help people take control of their future careers.

OPIT offers BSc and MSc degrees in Computer Science, AI, Data Science, Cybersecurity, and Digital Business, attracting students from over 38 countries worldwide. Through innovative learning experiences and affordable tuition fees starting at €4,050 per year, OPIT empowers students to pursue their educational goals without the financial and personal burden of relocating.

The curriculum, delivered through a mix of live and pre-recorded lectures, equips students with the latest technology skills, as well as business and strategic acumen necessary for careers in their chosen fields. Moreover, OPIT’s EU-accredited degrees enable graduates to pursue employment opportunities in Europe, with recognition by WES facilitating transferability to the US and Canada.

OPIT’s commitment to student success extends beyond academics, with a full-fledged career services department led by Mike McCulloch. Remote students benefit from OPIT’s “digital campus,” fostering connections through vibrant discussion forums, online events, and networking opportunities with leading experts and professors.

Faculty at OPIT, hailing from prestigious institutions and industry giants like Amazon and Microsoft, bring a wealth of academic and practical experience to the table. With a hands-on, practical teaching approach, OPIT prepares students for the dynamic challenges of the modern job market.

In conclusion, OPIT stands as a beacon of hope for individuals seeking to future-proof their careers in technology. By democratizing access to high-quality education and fostering a global learning community, OPIT empowers students to seize control of their futures and thrive in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

Read the article