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Ten years of Software Campus – motivating tomorrow’s IT professionals

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Promoting IT talents and preparing them for management positions – very successfully accomplished by the Software Campus, a funding programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched ten years ago. DLR Projektträger (DLR-PT) has been involved as a partner from the very beginning.

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1st December 2021 — Clever minds that are motivated to think into the future are essential for ensuring corporate success. Since 2011, the BMBF's Software Campus funding programme has been working specifically to counteract a shortage of specialists and managers in the IT sector. DLR-PT assumes an interface function and coordinates cooperation between the ministry, research partners and participants. Partners in the programme include German universities and IT research institutes as well as globally successful medium-sized companies in the digital industry.

"Promoting young talent has many facets. The Software Campus is a very special measure that has been unique in its orientation so far," explains Dr Jens Totz, scientific officer at DLR-PT. The Software Campus enables master's and doctoral students of computer science to realise their own IT ideas within the framework of up to two years of funding. During this time, the participants independently carry out IT research projects and are accompanied by experienced mentors from industry and research. The BMBF provides up to 100,000 euros per project for the implementation of the ideas. The measure was launched in the 2011 IT Summit in Munich. The proud balance sheet of the past ten years now includes over 450 participants from 40 nations, whose practice-relevant projects have been funded with a total of 37 million euros.

Broad support from experienced team at DLR-PT

An interdisciplinary team of consultants from DLR-PT provide all aspects of support for the students. "We accompany the participants from the beginning to the end of their project," explains Linda Schwarz, scientific officer at DLR-PT. "This means, for example, that we give feedback on their project description in advance, and that we look at how their topic can be made more comprehensible or whether their work plan is consistent. Most of the time, the participants have already been very deeply involved in their topic through their own research work. Team colleague Holger Konle adds: "Sometimes we then make it clear to them again that they have to take a step back from the project work. It's just a matter of them guiding scientific staff – and not of them doing the work themselves."

Support programmes and events for software talent

The Software Campus is not the only programme of individual funding in the IT sector that DLR-PT implements for the BMBF. The Software Sprint programme, which DLR-PT has been overseeing since 2017, is also aimed at participants from the information technology industry who are in demand as creative masterminds of technology-oriented innovations. The results there are made available as open-source solutions and are intended to enable further innovations. The open source community was also in demand to tackle the Corona crisis. As part of a special round of the Software Sprint, 34 projects were funded by the BMBF that had been selected from 1,500 approaches to solving the Corona crisis which had been submitted during the #WirVsVirus Hackathon in March 2020.

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