UMBC Mic'd Up

At the Heart of Software Engineering

August 24, 2023 UMBC Mic'd Up with Dennise Season 3 Episode 58
UMBC Mic'd Up
At the Heart of Software Engineering
Show Notes Transcript

In a tech-centric world, the heart of software engineering is more than code—it's about forging connections, filling gaps, and uplifting communities. Tune in to UMBC's Mic'd Up podcast as Hidare Debar, a Software Engineering grad student, shares her inspiring life journey. Discover her vision for using tech to foster cultural unity and collaboration.

A Journey of Resilience and Passion

Hidare Debar's story starts in an Ethiopian village, where she embraced education, starting with the local alphabet. Progressing through school, Hidare's unending curiosity drove her to a master's in international economic development. Throughout her academic pursuits, Hidare embraced various jobs and opportunities to support herself and her family.

Discovering the Power of Technology

Hidare discovered computers post-graduation, delving into tech, digital communication, and modern devices. Adapting to these changes was challenging and exciting for her, igniting a curiosity to understand and master the digital landscape. With an economic development background and a heart for helping, Hidare found her fit in software engineering.

Choosing the Path of Software Engineering

As Hidare discovered the Software Engineering program at UMBC, she found a community that resonated with her goals and values. The department's skilled professors and varied specializations caught her eye, offering a chance to learn, grow, and create impact. What stood out was the technical expertise and the opportunity to channel creativity into problem-solving and innovation.

The Heart of Software Engineering

Hidare's passion for software engineering transcends mere technical proficiency. For her, software engineering is a medium to connect with others, share knowledge, and bridge cultural divides. Linking students to giving back and cross-cultural learning, she foresees technology driving positive change.

A Call to Action

Hidare's journey reminds us of the transformative power of education, technology, and human connection. As we navigate the ever-evolving world of software engineering, we're inspired to consider the broader impact of our work. How can our technical skills be harnessed to uplift communities, promote understanding, and improve the world? Hidare's story challenges us to think beyond code and algorithms and embrace the human element in our digital endeavors.

Educational Experience

UMBC's software engineering graduate program offers a transformative educational experience. It equips students with the skills necessary to delve into the heart of software engineering. With expert faculty guidance and a collaborative learning environment, students learn to bridge the gap between innovation and real-world impact. This program prepares them to excel in the technical realm. It nurtures their ability to create connections, foster collaboration, and make a positive difference in communities.

Dennise Cardona  0:00  
Welcome to this episode of UMBC's Mic'd Up podcast. My name is Dennise Cardona from the Office of Professional Programs at UMBC. Today, we are here to talk about software engineering with one of our current graduate students Hidare Debare. I hope you enjoy this episode. Welcome to the UMBC podcast. It's so nice to have you here with us today.

Hidare Debar  0:24  
Thank you. Good to be here.

Dennise Cardona  0:26  
Yes. So, as I understand it, you are currently in the software engineering graduate program here at UMBC. Correct? Yes, yes. So I love to hear journeys of what you did before this before enrolling in our program. And what was that educational journey? Like? What was that path like?

Hidare Debar  0:50  
Okay, it's a privilege for me to be here, just to begin with. And as I said, that emigrated from Africa, here, quite a while, five years, basically, then when I'm trying to join to the University. Before that, I study like any African kids, my journey started in small village. We started like, top of students studying local alphabets. Then after we just moved to the primary High School and attended college in the national country. Then I moved to Czech Republic, to study for my master's program, and international economic development. And while I'm studying my masters, I have been doing different types of jobs like student jobs, if everybody can go through it, to support myself and my family, then I join after my graduation, international non governmental organization, to do letter to modern teaching methods with the universities. And with the elementary is high schools in less fortunate, developing countries in general. Then, I moved here, and I started working, I employed at MGM National Harbor. And I also do part time subcontracting writing a project for developing countries especially resettling of refugees around here. And I start to let me explore my options to have more people who because things are changing, and modernization, then I tried to apply to the University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus. And I'm here today with you.

Dennise Cardona  2:41  
And you're here today with us. That's amazing. What a journey. So I just love that story of when you were a child in Africa, and you're a part of a small school. And what was that? Like? I'm just curious as in terms of, what did that do to you, when you were a child as far as if the just being able to be in that setting where you're learning new things? They must have been really exciting. If you can think back that far to that point. What was that? Like? Do you remember that excitement feeling of being able to learn in that environment?

Hidare Debar  3:14  
I wish I'd go back today, because I'm originally from Ethiopia. And the US has its own culture. And we have our own alphabet and our Numerix. And we have to learn before we go to the modern school. So you have to go to that school first. Like we call it here kindergartens, we have also the same thing that you have to learn first, your alphabet, you know, words, and we don't have even a chair. But we are, you have to go to the Bible study school, basically, because the Bibles are written in local alphabets. So that time the teachers are patient, and we are quite kids, and we don't know what's what. And that is basically the background for who you are. In terms of decency, in terms of dedication, in terms of thinking for others, because we are sharing the same book, we are sharing the same chairs. So we start to think each other with that kind of personality grows up from there. So I really love it. I wish I'll go back. I don't remember that much. But when I see my kids or any other case has to go through that, this my belief, it may not be right for the modern society, or what we call it this generation. But we learn a lot. And we survived lots of hardship, because of that. That is what we call who you are.

Dennise Cardona  4:51  
That's powerful. And to me, it just reminds me and hopefully others who are listening in or viewing this video how Just we are so fortunate to be in an environment of learning of being able to grow and expand our knowledge base. And so many times, I know myself included, I've taken that for granted. And then when I hear stories like yours and my husband is similar from a similar background and South America, he went to a very small school and he was privileged to be able to go to this school because not everybody can go to school, and to be able to learn at that young, impressionable age, the value of education is so powerful. And so now here you are at UMBC. A, just a great university. I'm proud to be part of UMBC proud to work here and also be I was a grad, I'm a graduate of one of their programs, really proud to say that I'm part of that UMBC community. And it's just, yeah, I love hearing stories like that. And I think that a lot of people will be able to, if not relate, they can at least empathize and then see the value that wow, we all come from different places from different lenses. And being able to pay attention to that is so important in society in general. Yeah, definitely. So software engineering, what is it that made you go into software engineering? What do you love most about the field?

Hidare Debar  6:23  
The first thing is, I'm old school. Like, I basically want to see everything in hardcopy. Like, while you just the first time I see computers when I was after I graduate my bachelor degree when I came to the capital city, so imagine the first thing you learn is how to communicate with writing on the ward, like the office explore things, so expensive for us to have this kind of privilege. Even those developing countries, some people have got more access, I cannot say that everybody is poor. But the place where I came from is that is some part of Ethiopia. That means yes, my father was inversely professor. But still, there is no access for everyone. So when I moved to the capital city and finished my first degree, then I started working, I see these kind of things which catch your brain or the mind. And after some time, they start to have mobile phones, which is quite expensive for us till but you have to go through now people. I'm going to tell you what is surprising things when the classroom like the last semesters when the professor said that some of the things that students don't know what's it painful in my classrooms, that misogyny, that gap that I was completely memorized. And now we'll look at how old are you because I was quite surprised at this. They don't know what's a payphone is. But we have been through that with analog phone and everything. So imagine the technology evolvement during all these times. So after I moved here, even though I know that computers then that much and then moved to Europe to study my masters, but it's not this much change of like overnight thing. So I have to familiarize myself to the modern thing, but still getting curious how it works. Especially when it changed from one window setting to 11 or 10. Everything which I get used to it is completely shift. And okay, I have to know this because imagine I am here and how many women's back home get confused. On this kind of settings. We have been using Windows nine, Windows eight, Windows 10, everything is going to change trust me, especially when it is on the Explorer on the internet. I was trying to look for that thing that our families. So after not, and I don't have any background at all. But the software engineering department, when I just go through the internet of the department, there are lots of things are going there. When you see the professors that will experienced and you feel that you belong with that age, and they could understand you what you're saying somehow it's better for me to express the anger more to the experience of one because saying know where it came from at least more of like technology wise, then the program has its own pure things especially software engineering parliament is not one discipline you It has different specialization if you want to join to the department. And the first is you have to be creative in creativity means like the ability to envision with CAD then conveyed to the practical language to the computer into the reality of the other world. So these kind of things will excite me to join and court to get more information. And I see professor Samarah is explaining about the the department the courts are providing. And I decided, okay, if I can able to talk to him, and explain to him who I am and where I came from, and what I'm looking for, she might go to help me. Then the second step that I was looking for is open doors. Like, I went to him, I just email him. And he told me, okay, you can come to the office. But I have 30 minutes to spare to you because he's going to the lecture. He's not even abandoned me, because he has to get ready for the lecture. He just opened his door. Okay, that's surprising. I went to his office. Even I couldn't able to navigate how to get to the office because it's our new to the university after no time, are you confusing? They're not going to be able to get how to get hours ask you so many people's by the way, I'm personality. I asked if I don't know. You can judge me whatever you like. But I will ask

Dennise Cardona  11:30  
That is the way to go. If you don't know something. And some so many people are afraid to speak up and ask. To me that's the that is the beauty of having a curious mindset is I'm curious about this, I need to know if I'm going to ask and no question should be felt should be made to feel foolish? Because if you don't know, it's because you don't know you're not asking just because just on a whim, you're asking because you truly want to know the answer to the question. And I think that, especially in an educational situation, or a corporate situation, situation, nonprofit people admire that curiosity. And it's important to ask questions.

Hidare Debar  12:08  
When I asked the professor, okay, Professor, you have to know, Are you registered? Because I don't want to miss a window. And I don't know what I'm doing here. And he said, Okay, come down, let's discuss what you know, I get only the interest to learn. I just came, and I don't know about what is programming is, I just know, I'm quick to learn. That's my personality. Other than that, I need help. First, explain me the courses. But that's I'm just a white paper. And this is me. And okay, he was just got through all the departments of computer science programming. If I know these courses, if I don't know these courses, he went through even he took an hour to go to take me so and he decided, okay, let's decide it. This semesters, you can do it because I know with such short time talking to me, okay, this is how you have to practice this courses. Then through time, step by step, you're going to learn how to do this distance. And he emailed me lots of information, where to go, I got started. Yeah, I feel I came home, because they openly gave me a chance to see what they can do is to kind of shine bright in the middle of darkness. That was what is software engineering for me. I'm not saying this, to impress others. But that's what happened to me. Really.

Dennise Cardona  13:49  
I'm so happy to hear that. And I know that Dr. Samarah will be very happy to hear that too. And yeah, it's really important when you're in an educational institution, to feel comfortable and feel at home and to be able to know that when you need support, there's support there for you. And yeah, so I'm really happy to hear that you have that support that you were able to navigate. What could be a very complex situation. Just getting around campus is complex, but also picking courses and knowing you're on the right path. Is this the right path for me? What area of specialty should I be focusing on? And to be able to have somebody in your educational journey tell you or guide you and give you the facts? That's really priceless. Because I think a lot of times this whole value of a mentor right is somebody who has lived and breathed the path that or a similar path to what you want to embark on and you want to they can guide you with what they went through and maybe some of the lessons they learned and some of the paths that they took that maybe they could have taken a different path to get there in a different way that would have been more beneficial or less. But hearing from people like that, it's really, I think, really ensuring it's encouraging. And it's really important. So I'm really glad you found that with UMBC

Hidare Debar  15:11  
Trust me that is my entire life. But the thing is, if you see everything is becoming software, everything is coming to working with programming thing, especially software, everything for refrigerator, calling your car and everything. So in this today's world, software engineering is priority of for most of the companies in digital world presents endless opportunities out there, if you improve yourself to join or get more paid, there is countless of job opportunities. So coming to software engineering department in that sense of your advancement, or getting more metal page is the best way is you cannot able to focus on one thing, the specialization, different department like the specialization, the discipline is having a branches. It's evolving departments evolving discipline. So it's the best thing in that happen. So

Dennise Cardona  16:20  
anyway, absolutely. And you bring up a good point, and you brought it up a little earlier is that you're motivated to learn software engineering, you're motivated to learn technology, because you came from a background where education is a gift. And you know that it seems like you know that learning things and then sharing things, which is I don't know if you can see my sign up above my microphone, but learn it share it, it That's my motto in life. And what you said is like resonating with me so deeply, because it sounds like the experience you had as a child. And even as you became an adult and you went into graduate studies, that's what it sounds like happened to you is that you're motivated to learn this stuff so that you can then help other people by sharing it with them. And it's so important that you think about technology can be a really overwhelming thing in life. My parents when they first got cell phones, and gosh, when the pandemic first hit, and we were all trying to get on zoom as a family, Oh, my poor parents, they were so lost. And nobody could go to their house because they were older, we didn't want them to get sick. And so we're all just trying to troubleshoot online. And that can be such a frustrating thing for both parties, because you want to help so badly. And they're frustrated because they don't understand what what they're supposed to be doing. And what a power that is to be able to contribute to the world and to people in that capacity to have that knowledge and to be able to share it with people so that they can then enjoy what technology is meant to do in life. And that is to make hopefully improve our lives. Like a simpler, make it simpler. That's right. Once you get through the turmoil and the chaos of trying to figure it out, it should make it simpler. So how so far in your career here at UMBC in the program? How has it prepared you so far for what you want to do and once you're through your educational studies here,

Hidare Debar  18:19  
fundamentally speaking, software engineering is not some sort of one way or withdrawal, bridge discipline. But also it is an art requires our creativity, of different things, it has a lot of choice to make you specialized on. So what I'm going to take away from the university is my passion is to help others. That is who I am. I was working for development project my entire life. Most of the people get an opportunity. We all pass through ups and downs, we have all we have problems. But which one is worse than or better than the others? We get more experience here. We get more opportunity. But other parts of the worst didn't. What legacy do you have to pass it on? Starting from your neighbors starting from you children starting from you? Civics we all have a baggage who needs to support so if we support them with Legion We know and if we share what we know we will be in better situations. There are so many evils are here. There Share something like communicating with others what my future like my dream was take half of some students for a parent ship, to back to the other country, other world, other countries. And let them share, because you learn both ways. They learn from you a lot, you let them learn from others, I want to create that kind of bridge for the fresh graduates to be thankful what this country offered them, what this their family offered them. Just for a couple of two weeks, apparently problems. In Europe, we have that especially small nongovernmental organizations, they are going for a parent ship, they just get paid for a couple of euros for this bedroom wars there. And we have to choose this, like will Americans or Americans in generals, to give that kind of opportunity to learn from others to share. Because while you are teaching others sharing your knowledge, you've learned so much, because your subconscious mind trying to activate it in order to help others and you will be creative enough, who knows. And you will learn to be grateful that you have that thing I want to create in the future, if God's will, because I don't want to be okay, I need to be get paid working for the big companies. But I don't want to do it for a long time. I just want to because this generations, including my own, can get lost. I don't want them to have just let them go and see, instead of giving a big party on the graduation, save that money, let them go and see. Because there are lots of, for example, Save the Children, I always their medical son Fonterra that different non governmental individuals are here, which works in developing countries, not only east or west, wherever. And give them the opportunity for this fresh graduates. To share their experience, let them learn from the others and let them teach others that journey, I won't open it, if I get a chance or anyone for that matter in the position. Let this generation to see instead of running after money, first let them know who they are, be grateful for what they have, then only they appreciate what they're going to spend on what they are going to build on the future. Because I mean, it can give me something special. So to say this, I have to be grateful for that which I never had. And I don't want this country or any other country to go to the Hill. Because you offer me something special. I want to those people to see what I had, or what it is an amazing opportunity to come to the university, even even though you pay the art, some university you cannot go, it's doesn't mean that you have the money and go to the school and you get the knowledge that you have. Even though it is at the same time, do something with your life. It's not only all about you.

Dennise Cardona  23:38  
That's very special. I'm reading a book right now, I just downloaded it last night. And I can't remember the name of it yet, but because I only just started it and I read two pages. And one of the core messages of those two pages I read was it's not about you. It's about other people. And so it's just ironic, coincidental that we're having this conversation because I always think there's more power when you make it about others when you make it just about yourself. And so there's a there's a there's a real message in that for me, I see that. And I hear that often. And you know, I always think when you're feeling down or you're trying to chase happiness, it's probably not going to find you. The way you find happiness is through doing things for other people. And that's where the happiness comes in. And I think that with software engineering, the world is so wide open with potential for being able to make a difference in society through software engineering, that it's not difficult at all to find a way to be able to make it about other people. And so that's really powerful

Hidare Debar  24:46  
is creating a culture because you're using their own language they're using, you're using their coding system, you're using something which is more wider than what you Think software engineering is not about only creating a program or software or an app, it is about involving other culture in it, so that others could learn it. Because for example, this kind of layout, like the interface that we are communicating, some of the language are all in English, right? So software engineering gives you the capacity to include different language. So that other will understand it, other can use it. So the same thing is sharing software is not that, like you just make money out of it as well as it is you are sharing what other to benefit from it. So, if we think outside the box is what is software interesting? Because that's what is creativity, that involvement in software engineering. It's not only about you created it, then how are you going to share it? It's in software engineering, because you are developing the software so that other will understand it. So if somebody wants to join the department have this mentality. It's not all about you. It's about others to that software injury for me. I don't know for others, but for me, yeah.

Dennise Cardona  26:21  
I love it. Thank you so much for sharing all your thoughts today on this I frequently throughout our conversation, I ended up with chills, because I just I resonated so deeply with what you were saying. And it's just to me, it's emotional. And I know that you feel the same way. Because I could see that you're feeling that way too. It's when people think of technology. I don't think they think of the emotional aspect that technology can bring to the world. And you brought that out. And so thank you so much for bringing that human approach to technology. Because I think a lot of times, that's the missing element. And that is a crucial element. And you brought that out beautifully in this conversation. So thanks so much for sharing that. Thank you. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of UMBC's Mic'd Up podcast. If you'd like to learn more about our offerings to a search for software engineering graduate programs at UMBC or simply click the link in the description