Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Rustam Khodzhaev, senior lecturer, Tajik Technical University and Branch of Lomonosov Moscow State University in Dushanbe,Tajikistan
Rustam D. Khodzhaev is a senior lecturer at two universities in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe: Tajik Technical University and Branch of Lomonosov Moscow State University in Dushanbe. At Tajik Technical University, he delivers classes in the faculty of Information and Communication Technologies, and at Branch of Lomonosov Moscow State University in Dushanbe, in the faculty of Natural Sciences.
At both institutions, Rustam teaches database, operating systems and system administration, basing his classes on the curriculum provided by Oracle Academy. Under his initiative, the two universities became Oracle Academy Institutional members in 2015, the first such implementations in the five-country Central Asia region.
Rustam lives and breathes Oracle technology. After completing a Master’s degree in Computer Science in 2007, he held jobs in which he implemented Oracle technologies for core banking and administered high-availability database solutions including Oracle Data Guard and Oracle Engineered Systems. Rustam also successfully completed his PhD degree in Computer Science in 2017.
In 2014 he founded the TAJOUG (Tajikistan Oracle User Group) and in 2020 was named an Oracle ACE. The Oracle ACE Program is designed to recognize and reward members of the Oracle Technology and Applications communities for their contributions to those communities. These activities support Rustam’s passion for nurturing ties between business, academia, and IT communities.
Currently, Rustam is planning to roll out the Oracle Cloud Free Tier option, provided free by Oracle Academy, for students at both universities.
Oracle Academy: How did you get involved with Oracle Academy?
Rustam Khodzhaev: The two universities I work at became Oracle Academy members in 2015. There was a need to close the gap between traditional university education and the skills required in the IT job market. In recent years Tajikistan has been moving steadily towards greater connectivity and technology development, contributing to growth in demand for qualified IT professionals.
I was part of a team that identified Oracle Academy as a platform for modernizing both teaching and learning.
Oracle Academy: In what way have you incorporated Oracle Academy into your curriculum?
Rustam Khodzhaev: Eight teachers from Tajik Technical University and three from the Branch of Lomonosov Moscow State University in Dushanbe were trained online by Oracle Academy. They learned to teach Database Foundations; Database Design and Programming with SQL; Programming with PL/SQL; Java Foundations and Java Programming.
We probably incorporate 70 percent of the teaching materials into our classes, depending on the university, the courses, and the level of students. Teaching is in Russian or Tajik, with slides in English. All IT specialists should understand English but, luckily for us, Database Foundations has been translated into Russian.
In addition to the courses mentioned above, we teach students the use of application development tools including Oracle Database Express Edition (XE), SQL Developer Data Modeler, SQL Developer, and Oracle Application Express (APEX).
Oracle Academy: How do you apply these materials in your classes?
Rustam Khodzhaev: We give students the option to install the software on their local machine or use Oracle Cloud services. During the pandemic most have opted for Oracle Cloud. Some use both, to study the pros and cons, which contributes to their analytical thinking.
Whatever their choice, students come to understand databases, programming languages, and database administration, and they create amazing applications. They design a database, input the data, and then create an application using APEX. When interacting with the database through the application, they see how the whole system works. They get excited when they see the results!
Oracle Academy: Can you give examples of the types of projects you assign to your students?
Rustam Khodzhaev: Students taking Oracle Academy courses are expected to apply their learning in designing real databases and applications. During the defense of their work, they must demonstrate database normalization, a designed and developed database, and a web application.
Over the past few semesters, I have assigned them exercises such as designing and implementing a university timetable; a library; a hotel fitness center; and a school performance management system. They are excited by these assignments, understanding that they are creating real-world solutions with tools from a world leader in database and cloud technology.
Oracle Academy: In what way are you using Oracle Cloud resources?
Rustam Khodzhaev: In 2020 we began using Oracle Cloud services through the Oracle Academy Cloud Program. This simplifies the learning and teaching process and gets them rapidly familiar with the world of cloud technologies, more and more relevant every day. With the Oracle Cloud Free Tier there is nothing to install, and students can access the cloud from anywhere. We are using the Autonomous Database and APEX for tasks such as explaining how Big Data can help to predict situations in any field: Telco, finance, supermarkets, even university ratings!
For the semester 2021/2022, I plan on using Autonomous Database for classes in Artificial Intelligence and will use Oracle Academy’s Artificial Intelligence with Machine Learning in Java for hands-on exercises. I am also preparing a step-by-step walkthrough of how to connect to Oracle Autonomous Database using Oracle SQL Developer Web for executing queries and scripts, building data models, and monitoring database performance.
Oracle Academy: What plans do you have for extending Oracle Academy curriculum in Tajikistan?
Rustam Khodzhaev: We are planning to ramp up teacher training in Java, including AI/Machine Learning, and will introduce the Alice and Greenfoot object-oriented programming development environments.
And, taking advantage of what Oracle Academy offers, we will further develop the curriculum to ensure that the next generation of Tajik professionals are well-equipped in the digital skills required in the job market.
Oracle Academy: Can you tell us about your activities outside of teaching?
Rustam Khodzhaev: As Oracle ACE and president of the Tajikistan Oracle User Group, I am a frequent speaker at local and international IT events. I am always learning what’s going on in other countries and share experiences and knowledge through a large network of Oracle experts in Central Asia and beyond. I have made presentations in Russia, Portugal, Azerbaijan and the four Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. We all share the same challenges.
In addition, I provide IT services (particularly Database services), work with IT communities, and write technical articles and blogs. In my blogs I share my experience, knowledge, and information and get comments from all over the Russian-speaking world. When you get feedback that you have helped someone through a tech blog, it makes you feel good, and that motivates me to do it more.
I’m also passionate about strengthening synergies between business, education and IT. I meet with people from all three spheres to promote the vital role of computer science education to economic growth and quality of life. Every student has opportunities and the abilities to create a successful career in IT if they want to.
On the family side, I like spending time with my two daughters and hope to contribute to their development as individuals and members of society. Knowledge is power and encouraging them in their homework is a way to help foster their future professional careers.
My wife and I also like to travel. It’s often said that travel broadens the mind and that’s true. When I am in other countries or regions, I study culture, traditions, history, and cuisine, and am never the same person after a trip. Travel changes you for the better. And, naturally, visiting new places brings peace of mind, shuts off the daily routine. You come back recharged.
Thank you, Dr. Rustam Khodzhaev, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.