Enhancing the Learning Experience
“When we first started using Sybase PowerDesigner, I was looking for a way to enhance the teaching methodologies of our IT programs,” Professor Perisic explains. “Most of our students are seeking to become IT professionals: engineers, programmers, etc. In many degree programs, students are taught to use – and depend on – a single design language such as .Net or Java. We were searching for a tool that would allow them to move beyond such a dependency. We looked at a number of different tools including software from IBM and Microsoft. But when we tried those we weren’t satisfied.” Professor Perisic also tried a number of open-sourced modeling tools. “Open source tools can be satisfactory but they are limited in scope. PowerDesigner is the only modeling tool we found that could address all of our requirements.”
“When I tested PowerDesigner, I believed that it was best for our purpose. I was confident in its modeling capabilities. If you are modeling, particularly when you are building large models, you need a reliable tool. PowerDesigner enables both forward and reverse engineering for even the largest models.”
Integrating PowerDesigner into the Class Curriculum
The University’s Computer Science and Information Design Department has successfully incorporated Sybase PowerDesigner into a wide range of courses, including database design, information systems design, html/xml web services design, management security modeling, business intelligence design, and other similar courses. PowerDesigner integrates business modeling, data modeling, and object modeling, allowing students to develop conceptual, logical, and physical models all using the same tool.
Becoming skilled in PowerDesigner is a fundamental requirement for the Department’s students. “For instance, in software design courses, modeling with PowerDesigner is a first step in developing appropriate programming. As part of our courses, students are required to solve data driven and event driven problems based on real-world cases. They quickly become aware of how much time they can save if they use modeling techniques correctly – or how much time they might lose if they are not using appropriate modeling techniques.” Professor Perisic states.
“We want to develop students into professionals who are not just programmers or BI technologists or software engineers. Rather, we want to develop designers who will use their inherent creativity and insight. We don’t want them to depend on one language such as Java. Rather, we want them to develop skills that will allow them to work flexibly among languages. By teaching students to create rich models as an integral part of our course work, we are providing them with the skills that they require to contribute to businesses worldwide, quickly and in a variety of positions.”
Professor Perisic sites an example of the real-world relevance of his students’ skills: Perisic worked on a World Bank project for a private company based in Banja Luka. The data for the project was held on 64 servers using over 250 different applications. As the project unfolded, the company implemented Sybase PowerDesigner as its primary modeling tool, and turned to the Computer Science and Information Design Department at the University of Novi Sad for help. “The company insisted that only the students from Novi Sad were used for the project, not anyone else,” Professor Perisic explains. “This was due to the student’s familiarity with PowerDesigner as well as their ability to transfer those modeling skill sets to real-world situations.”
Professor Perisic as well as ten other faculty staff members, continue to use this powerful modeling tool to bring real-life experience and skills to students. “In the near future we are planning to heavily introduce enterprise modeling to our undergraduate, masters, and PhD students,” Professor Perisic states. “We have a good start on developing not only more IT courses using Sybase products, but also business management courses.”
Three years ago, the University was a beneficiary of the Sybase University Program, the result of long lasting cooperation between Sybase and the University of Novi Sad. Under this scheme, Sybase has donated not only the latest version of PowerDesigner, but also a variety of other software including Sybase IQ, and PowerBuilder. “We are grateful for this donation, and intend to expand our student’s knowledge by making good use of these products,” Perisic says. “The donated software is installed at our computer center facilities in Novi Sad. That center has 6 computer labs with 130 workstations and 24 servers. It supports all IT activities at faculty and department level.”
Sybase as a Foundation of Skills
“We have discovered that by using powerful modeling techniques we are helping to develop talented and desired designers and thinkers who can quickly provide significant contributions to their employers,” Perisic states. “These students can transfer their skills to almost any position or industry. That’s the type of flexibility that we need to encourage among today’s students in order to contribute to the future.”