I had the pleasure of going back to my old university, Ulster University to deliver a guest lecture to Software Engineering students as part of their Software Development Practice module. From this I learned a few things:

  1. New found admiration for the work lecturers do — from preparing lectures, to creating syllabus to delivering the lectures there is more to it than you think when you have to deliver a lecture
  2. Everyone in seats looks very small in a big lecture hall!
  3. Taking scary opportunities is the best way to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone, grow and improve skills like public speaking

Having taken part in the Kainos Earn as you Learn scheme from 2014–2019, and only recently graduating from Ulster University last July, I never thought I would be in a position to be a guest lecturer now, let alone in five years time. However, a colleague shared a message looking for someone to deliver a lecture as part of the Software Development Practice Module covering any topic related to real-world software development, teamwork but especially agile practices, which was called out as being most useful.

Enrollment is approximately 200 students. I definitely only thought through what I had signed up too after agreeing, and realised that I was actually quite scared! However, the best opportunities I have taken tend to have started with that nerve-wracking scared butterflies in stomach feeling — but I had a fire in my belly and was ready to tackle it.

So what is the software development practice module?

Taught in Year 2 to Software Engineering Students, the fundamental aim of this module is to provide students with knowledge and practical skills in relation to the software development process using a contemporary framework such as Agile. The module offers theoretical grounding but will mainly focus on the practical application of Agile in a team setting to provide a systems solution to a given problem.

My day-to-day job at Kainos is a Business Analyst, a role in which we ensure the products we are building for our clients are delivering value and solving their problems. This lecture slot seemed the perfect opportunity as it focuses on the practical application of agile within teams. I was able to go out and speak around how we work in an agile fashion at Kainos, the team I work in, the different roles within a traditional Scrum team, the type of products we deliver to clients and then move on to some focused content outlined below:

  • Agile overview
  • Requirements overview
  • Elicitation of requirements
  • Creating requirements
  • Prioritising requirements
  • Non-functional requirements
  • Management of requirements
  • Example of this in my day to day project

It was great to see this new module being introduced to Year 2 students, in which the students have a coursework task set to produce a backlog of user stories in Trello.

The lecturers gave me guidance on how this module should better prepare the students for life in industry as they prepare to send them out for placement at the end of this teaching year. It was very promising to get feedback from the lecturers at the end that the content I covered, and techniques and approaches I spoke about us using in Kainos are the approaches they are advising the students to take. It definitely seems like they have thoroughly considered industry when creating the spec for this module. Lastly, a massive thank you to Richard Davies, and George Moore who are lecturers at Ulster who made me feel at ease and let me come along to host the lecturer for their cohort. Richard even gave me a tour of some of the facilities that the PhD students have access to such as usability labs and it was great to see the continuous enhancements made to support students learning.