While at ECSS 2009, I followed the track on Multi-disciplinary Curricula. The session opened with a presentation by Budapest University of Technology and Economics Professor describing a very interesting new R&D program (the Innovation and Knowledge Centre of Information Technology made up of 9 enterprises, 5 university departments,) whereby Industry and Academics were gathered in the same environment to work together on 14 different projects with each a dedicated partner. BME was convinced that IT occupies a less significant position in the economy and society than it¡¦s capable of in terms of scientific and technical capacities and decided to develop applications which would provide users with IT systems well adapted to their needs. Of the resulting developments an interesting one was made in collaboration with HP on real-time image rendering for the Hungarian Medical Centre done in a fully parallelized environment.
University of Pisa, Antonio Albano then went on to present his school¡¦s experiment with a Graduate Program in Business Informatics. As a response to the Italy¡¦s general decline in enrolments of students in Informatics in the late 90¡¦s, Pisa University decided to tackle it with interdisciplinary graduate programs between the Informatics and Economics departments. The Programs turned out to be a huge success as it spurred not only a steady growth in enrolments of students within the school contrary to the general trend of withdrawals; but even attracted students from other universities. Student satisfaction was on average a rotund 3 over 4 and students turned out to be highly motivated. Finally, the job market welcomed them as 94% of the graduates found a job in an average of 1 month after graduation.
The following talk focused on Teaching Logic Programming for Interdisciplinary Computing. Since it allows users to think in more human-like statements than typical computer languages, logic programming has proved very useful both for Artificial Intelligence and interdisciplinary applications and shows impressive results among beginners thereby making interdisciplinary research around AI appealing to the non-computer specialist.
Whether bringing Academia and Industry closer together to stimulate research, or working with different disciplines to stimulate enrolments and better respond to the job market or making research more accessible to non-experts; multi-disciplinary approaches seem to be the only way forward.