We are turning the spotlight on our members who are making an impact with Oracle Academy.
Mr. Zubair Ahmed
The spotlight is on Mr. Zubair Ahmed, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institution of Science and Technology, Pakistan.
Mr. Zubair Ahmed is an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) in Pakistan. He teaches students how to code applications with Java, using Oracle Academy curriculum to structure his courses.
SZABIST has been an Oracle Academy member since 2013. Mr. Ahmed recommended the membership to support the work he does to guide 100 students every year into Pakistan’s job market, which is hungry for Java developers. In 2017, Mr. Ahmed became an Oracle Academy regional instructor for Pakistan, helping teachers in other universities and high schools learn to teach computer science and bring Oracle Academy to their own institutions.
Oracle Academy: What first attracted you to Oracle Academy?
Mr. Ahmed: I was certified on Java language right from the beginning of my teaching career in early 2000, and hence I found it easy to adopt Java language for teaching object-oriented programming. Pakistan's education sector is more inclined towards C++, regardless of the fact that there are more job prospects for Java developers. With support from our Board of Studies, we incorporated Oracle Academy curriculum into our course materials—both Java and SQL.
Oracle Academy: How do you use Oracle Academy curriculum in your teaching?
Mr. Ahmed: I teach both Java language and Oracle database courses to students working towards Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and in Software Engineering.
I familiarize students with all aspects of object-oriented programming, and how to develop client and server side solutions for mobile, desktop and enterprise using Java. I also teach Oracle database design and programming, because it’s important for students to be hands-on with both methods, especially for their final-year research projects.
Our Computing Council guidelines do not permit teaching of the full Oracle Academy curriculum, but we incorporate the exercises, slides, and multiple-choice questions. Naturally, the full curriculum software is available in all our labs for all students to use outside of their classes.
Oracle Academy: Could you elaborate on the final-year research projects you mentioned?
Mr. Ahmed: In their last two semesters, students work in groups on projects that demonstrate innovative ideas. They cannot graduate without creating software products that could be used to drive real-world business success. Examples include developing a computer network performance and status monitoring system, or an ISP billing system.
…employers are looking for graduates who exhibit experience and training in industry-standard technologies such as Oracle.
We task them to use Java and Oracle database programming in these projects. That’s of utmost importance, because employers are looking for graduates who exhibit experience and training in industry-standard technologies such as Oracle. We regularly get headhunters coming to the campus to snap up students with good problem-solving skills.
With similar objectives, we run problem-solving programming competitions. These also show prospective employers the agility of our students. Vying for prizes, students compete in Java programming and MySQL coding challenges. For example, our Speed Query Competition would have typical problems such as, “Write the select statement that displays the name, continent, and population of countries with a population of more than 100,000,000 for countries in Asia and Europe.”
Students compete hard, and the winners receive cash prizes. Above all, they gain confidence, because if you can do well during academia, you’re almost guaranteed to do well in the wider world. The degree you carry is just a degree, but if you’ve won a competition or have developed some software before you graduate, those are the skillsets software houses actually are looking for.
Oracle Academy: Please tell us about your role as Oracle Academy regional instructor for Pakistan.
There is great demand to use Java rather than C++ in higher education.
Mr. Ahmed: I have begun training others to teach Oracle Academy Java courses to their students. Last December, I taught a five-day Java Foundations instructor course to 30 faculty members at the University of Gujrat. Teachers at Gujrat received a certificate of training allowing them to teach Java Foundations to their students. I expect to be doing four to five more such trainings this year, both at Gujrat and other learning institutions. There is great demand to use Java rather than C++ in higher education.
There’s also a new project under development. Oracle Academy has signed an agreement with Pakistan’s Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) that will result in providing even more badly needed Java skills to the country. The agreement calls for teaching computer science to 45,000 students in 150 institutions across Punjab, our second largest province. To support that initiative I will be training 150 teachers over three years. I’m really looking forward to it!
Oracle Academy: That’s exciting! How is the computing job market in Pakistan?
Mr. Ahmed: Like anywhere else, there’s huge demand for Java and database skills. I liaise with industry, with headhunters, and with our university sponsors—they all come on campus in search of top graduates because in Pakistan it’s hard to find people with the right skill sets.
SZABIST was created with the idea of producing highly qualified scientific and technical personnel, and has been quite successful in fulfilling its purpose. One of our graduates works as an offshore Java developer for a U.S. provider of healthcare solutions. Another is now a data integration specialist at a leading online marketplace.
Thank you, Mr. Zubair Ahmed, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact on Pakistan!
We enjoy turning the spotlight on our members who are making an impact on students and communities with Oracle Academy. If you are interested in being featured or nominating another member for a spotlight, please contact us.