C. Vogt

Cologne University of Applied Sciences (GERMANY)
Until a few years ago, the Department of Communications Engineering of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences (CUAS, Germany) concentrated on the field of Electrical Engineering. It then offered only a traditional diploma program for communications engineers. With the upcoming Bologna process, the department expanded its activities by a new consecutive bachelor/master program “Technical Computer Science”. This program accounts for the fact that the areas of Computer Science / Informatics and Communications Engineering are rapidly growing together and thus engineers with a sound knowledge in both fields are needed.

The new program does not only offer students a new area of technical specialization but also includes significant innovative aspects concerning the organization of the course of studies:

- The traditional subjects of Electrical and Communications Engineering had to be supplemented by new modules meeting the specific needs of a computer science program. In the bachelor program, these modules include a two-semester software project where students have to solve a programming problem in a self-organizing team and a course in IT project management leading to the final bachelor thesis. The master program is characterized by in-depth courses (e.g. theoretical computer science, cryptography, IT security) enabling students for scientific work.

- The aspect of internationalization has become increasingly important. Dual degree contracts with British universities allow bachelor students to spend their final year abroad and thus to achieve both a German and a British degree. The master program includes a semester which students can spend at a partner university outside Germany. To enable this students’ exchange, ERASMUS contracts with several foreign universities have been signed. These contracts have not only brought a number of German students abroad but also many foreign students (mainly Spaniards) to Cologne thus fostering the integration within the EU.

The experiences with the new program are mostly favourable. Each year, 60 to 90 bachelor students and about 20 master students have enrolled - encouraging numbers with respect to the current lack of engineers and computer scientists. Internal evaluations surveying the students’ satisfaction yield acceptable results. However, there remain concerns about the duration of study. Despite the formal reduction from seven semesters in the diploma program to six semesters in the bachelor program, many students need considerably more time than this. This problem needs to be solved urgenty, but feasible solutions have yet to be found.