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Charalampos Patrikakis

The spotlight is on Dr. Charalampos Patrikakis, University of West Attica, Greece.

The University of West Attica (UniWA) in Egaleo was born of the merger of Piraeus University of Applied Sciences and the Technological Educational Institutes of Athens in 2018, joined the following year by the National School of Public Health. Five years later, UniWA has six schools, 27 departments, and three campuses, and a fourth in the process of completion. UniWA counts approximately 57,800 undergraduate students, 5,500 postgraduates, and 780 doctoral candidates. It also offers a program for Erasmus students and operates 80 research laboratories.

The School of Engineering encompasses eight engineering disciplines, among which is the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (DEEE). Dr. Charalampos Z. Patrikakis is a professor at the DEEE, which specializes in the design and implementation of interconnected electronic systems and services.

He is the director of the Computer Network & Services Research Laboratory, which focuses on artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning, cloud computing, networking, web of things, and blockchain technologies. He is also the director of the MSc program “Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning”.

Patrikakis holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computers. He has adapted the Oracle Academy Java Foundations curriculum to the Object-Oriented Programming course he teaches to students in the DEEE in the second semester.

Oracle Academy: Can you give us an overview of the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering?

Charalampos Patrikakis: The department is in fact the largest and most fully staffed of the university, with 66 faculty members and a five-year program. After six semesters of electrical and electronic engineering fundamentals, students join one or more study cycles: Energy; Communications and Networks; and Electronics and Embedded Systems.

My focus is on helping undergraduates and graduates work with devices possessing computing capabilities (mobile, portable, wearable), and design and implement applications and services over them. Broadly speaking, this involves both the field of Internet of Things (IoT) and device Intelligence, therefore including AI and deep learning.

Oracle Academy: What parts of the Oracle Academy curriculum do you use?

Charalampos Patrikakis: At DEEE, we have two courses for programming. The first introduces programming and teaches C, while the second is on object-oriented programming, and we have selected Java as the best suited language for this purpose. In this course we use the Java Foundations curriculum. To my mind, Java is the language of smart devices. With Java and a knowledge of Python and maybe C++, students upon graduation will be able to master virtually any modern programming challenge. They will get you anywhere nowadays.

We chose Java Foundations when designing the Object-Oriented Programming course for the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering of the University of West Attica. It looked perfect for our needs. The tutorials and course materials are clear and systematic and are invaluable as teaching notes.

It is also extremely helpful that the course has been translated into Greek. We teach it both in Greek and English, to both Greek and international students in the Erasmus program and equivalents.

In addition, we use Alice and Greenfoot as tools to introduce students to the principles of object-oriented, event-driven, and visual programming. Alice is taught in the context of a course on modern programming techniques, at post-graduate level to students of the MSc program Information and Communication Technologies for Education co-organised by three universities. The large majority of these students are elementary and nursery school teachers in the 25–30-year age range with no programming background. Students are introduced to object-oriented programming in a fun way. Everyone loves to create games! These teachers come in person to the university and never miss a class. In many cases after completing the course, they are using Alice in their classes, and together with their pupils, they come up with games or small movies.

On the other hand, Greenfoot has proven to be a great resource for teaching basic Java programming to Erasmus students attending our university from different countries, with tuition in English.

Oracle Academy: Have you considered the Oracle Academy curriculum, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with Java?


We chose Java Foundations when designing the Object-Oriented Programming course for the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering of the University of West Attica. It looked perfect for our needs. The tutorials and course materials are clear and systematic and are invaluable as teaching notes.

Charalampos Patrikakis: That course clearly offers a valuable teaching resource for our AI programs. Being the director of the MSc program Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning, I see the added value for our students. Oracle Academy’s Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with Java, tying into our Java programs and utilizing Oracle Cloud, is highly inviting, and I am looking into it.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are vital skills required in the market. As a result, there is the need to teach skills that will make lifeless things intelligent, render devices autonomous and smart. It is my belief that the future of programming lies more in understanding the logic and dynamics of connected ‘things’ rather than in the traditional micro-planning of their operation. We definitely will be making more use of Oracle Academy resources to further this process.

Oracle Academy: Do other departments use Oracle Academy resources?

Charalampos Patrikakis: In the current undergraduate program curriculum of DEEE, there are not many courses in databases and database administration; the need for data organization and management is obvious. Therefore, we do address it at postgraduate level, and this is the reason that in the new international course in Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, organized by several departments of the School of Engineering, there are several related courses. As the Oracle Academy point of contact in my university, my objective is to make fuller use of the resources throughout UniWA. In particular, I also believe that lecturers in the Departments of Informatics and Computer Engineering and Industrial Design and Production Engineering can take advantage of this powerful and free resource once we advertise it widely throughout the university. I am sitting down with the Oracle Academy country manager and the department heads to discuss how a broader roll-out of the resources on offer could be beneficial to the students of our university.

Oracle Academy: Have you considered preparing students for Oracle Professional Certification?

Charalampos Patrikakis: This is an important question that I need to address. Certification is important because when student life ends, professional life starts. Learning is no longer as it was back in my day — you studied, got your degree, end of story. Today learning is a lifelong process and students need to blend university qualifications with credentials from a recognized industry standard. I have been trying to address this dynamic in all my courses, even at the early years of undergraduate program.

We have a strong relationship with Oracle Academy. They have been proactive in making available to us Oracle experts for events such as our annual seminar delivered in the context of the Object Oriented Programming course under the title “Object-Oriented Programming: Trends & Challenges,” where students get first-hand information on issues related to the profession of a software programmer and the challenges and opportunities they will have after they graduate. As mentioned, our next steps are to make even greater use of Oracle Academy courses across the university and to promote the certification opportunities.

Oracle Academy: Great. And what are your interests outside of West Attica University?

Charalampos Patrikakis: Good question! Two answers, I think.

I have many hobbies but wish I had more time to pursue them. They include building small scale ship models and playing the guitar. Otherwise, when not at work or thinking about work, I try to spend maximum time with my family — but I fail miserably. Being editor of the bi-monthly IEEE IT Professional Magazine, concentrating on innovation and addressed to professionals, also takes up time and that brings me to the second answer…

If you ask what motivates me to cheerfully drive to work every Monday, the answer is trying to make lifeless things intelligent. Consider an ecosystem where objects, machines and humans can interact and communicate on equal terms to the benefit of humanity and our environment. Together with my research colleagues and team we have multiple projects on the go in this domain. For example, in CONSERT, we are involved in an EU-funded research project called RESCUER aimed at providing first responders with tools and apps to be more efficient and better protected in hazardous environments. In this and other similar projects, we are working towards providing intelligent and secure IoT platforms and tools for the collection and processing of data from multiple sensors (biometric, environmental), smart watches and social media, to be distributed in real-time to the valiant first responders: police officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, but citizens as well. And in this case, the goal translates to improving the collaboration of humans, machines and objects, in order to increase safety and better mitigate hazards.

Furthermore, and in the direction of transforming research results into practical applications and tools, together with two senior researchers of CoNSeRT, we founded ThinGenious, a UniWA innovation spinoff company, focusing on the use of AI and in particular deep learning to better understand the behavior of humans and animals. I believe that with the proliferation of wearable computing, there will be an explosive growth of applications for the well being and welfare of humans and animals, assisted by ICT. And of course, the evolution of AI will continue, introducing new concepts and revealing greater potential. For example, in neuromorphic computing, both hardware and software are modeled on the human brain and nervous system.

There’s so much to accomplish!

Thank you, Dr. Charalampos Patrikakis, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.