Real projects, real skills: Creating partnerships for learning with bydo

Real projects, real skills: Creating partnerships for learning with bydo

The bydo concept is all about optimising learning from real projects, offering training that keeps pace with the dynamics of new technologies, and providing a venue where future talent and employers can interact and learn to appreciate each other. This article explains how this initiative came about, the expectations that its founders Peter Delfosse and Professor Dr Andreas Brandenberg have, and why students – our future specialists – will benefit from this new approach to learning.

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The team behind the initiative (from left to right): Professor Dr Andreas Brandenberg, Cosima Lang, Anuschka Henn and Peter Delfosse.

Professor Dr Andreas Brandenberg, head of the Master’s programme in Applied Information and Data Science at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, developed the bydo concept together with Peter Delfosse, CEO of the international digitalisation company Axon. While Andreas is dreaming about extending Swiss university programmes beyond the traditional classroom, Peter is looking for talents who can deliver the value derived from the new technologies. However, they both believe it’s time for educators and practitioners to start singing more closely from the same hymn sheet. In our interview, they share their vision for the initiative.

Andreas, why do universities need to work more closely with industry?

Andreas: If we look at current job titles, the content of these jobs and the profiles they require, we will see that most of them didn’t even exist three years ago. Universities, on the other hand, generally have the luxury of taking two to three years to develop a new course. In short, planners at universities generally know little about where their programmes and courses are heading and what skills they should be teaching, and there are clear indications that practitioners and educators need to find new ways of working together more closely.

Peter, how do you address this issue in your company?

Peter: For years I’ve heard people around me bemoan the fact that the graduates they recruit from colleges or universities don’t have the skills and knowledge that are needed, that they get too few of them too late, and that they first have to train them. So, we have to ask ourselves: do we keep complaining or do we bring about lasting change in how businesses and educational institutes work together? The aim of the bydo initiative is to show that there are plenty of able people out there who are well trained and employable, who are motivated to work on projects in a range of applied fields, and who are willing to further develop their practical skills. With bydo, we are simply looking to provide a means with which to tap deeper into the resources we have. It’s not that I happen to know a lecturer at a university who happens to be doing yet another project. The bydo approach is more structured and aims to give us access to a vast set of resources that are not yet being used. That’s what the entrepreneurial side is all about.

Andreas: I think that all sides clearly have some reservations and that we have a mismatch of expectations: We have companies that don’t know how to work with students or how to engage them, we have students who don’t understand what’s required of them in terms of performance and quality, and we have entire industries that don’t realise what potential these students have.

We understand that bydo aims to meet expectations more fully among those who work together. But what exactly does it offer that can’t be taught in the classrooms at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts?

Andreas: What is crucially important in connection with enabling technologies such as data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence is that they all intrinsically have value, but this value becomes apparent only when these technologies are implemented. We lack the expertise for putting it all together. We can expect that the way we programme, apply new tools, work in low-code environments and use artificial intelligence will become relatively easy in future. But implementing these technologies to add value and become profitable for companies and organisations will always remain a creative act that requires context and cannot be taught in lectures and classrooms. Doing so needs a product and a process landscape. In other words, technical learning calls for vast layers of context that universities are less and less able to provide. What’s more, many of these technologies run on systems that universities are already struggling to afford and that may be out of reach in the medium term.

bydo is a collaborative setting in which companies, students, experts, and educational institutions can learn.

Almost every course by now offers applied modules. What makes bydo special?

Andreas: Of course, degree programmes generally already include applied projects – a lot of them! – and many master’s theses are also written for the benefit of industry partners. But that’s not enough. I believe that tackling the really big challenges calls for an approach that works independently of traditional teaching and the academic calendar. What’s crucial in our concept is that students are not left to fend for themselves but get the support they need from coaches who have a relationship with the educational institution and can guarantee the quality of the training being offered. We believe this to be the decisive factor. We have thought through a wide range of concepts and believe that bydo offers a finely balanced solution that evenly addresses the interests of the industry, educational institutions and students. In other words, all sides stand to benefit.

Peter: Yes, especially students who are quick on the uptake will benefit from bydo and won’t have to wait two or three years before they can apply what they’ve learned at university. Of course, no company is perfectly organised, as we often live from hand to mouth. So, it’s very important to plan these projects carefully and have coaches who are there for their students. After all, companies depend on these projects, which therefore must be supervised. I’m convinced that having such coaches will be the key to success so that bydo projects are of good quality. This in turn will help us ensure that we create good value for everyone involved.


So, you’re saying that we must use new ways to get students to acquire this expertise? What does that mean for me as a future specialist in the labour market, Peter?

Peter: Leadership is certainly a key factor. I think leadership skills are hard to acquire in an educational environment because you need to practice them, and young people often have few opportunities to do so. In our bydo projects, our students are in actual companies where they see how organisations and hierarchies work, understand what else needs to be considered, and very quickly get a realistic sense of what to expect and strive for in a specific situation.

Around 100 graduates leave our Master’s programme and enter the job market every year. What do they need to have to distinguish themselves, Andreas?

Andreas: I clearly believe that they need to fully understand what the industry expects of them. This means they must be in command of the technology as well as the setting in which is applied, as in the case of a data scientist, who has to be a specialist in the technology as well as in the context of the data he or she is using. Data scientists play an essential role in the digital transformation and thus have to know how the business and technical sides fit together.
But data scientists need to become much more creative. AI will never be able to deliver innovative, intelligent, clever solutions that fully serve specific needs in the market. But it is precisely such solutions, rather than generic technical knowledge, that add value. The data scientists we train learn first and foremost how to ask the right and relevant questions about specific real-world problems, and then set out to solve them. But let’s not forget, data and AI are sensitive topics that raise many questions, including legal ones – and especially ethical issues. So, data scientists need a solid foundation, a good basis as well as a clear idea of what’s feasible and what can be done and what should not be done.

What’s next for bydo?

Peter: We don’t want to reinvent every project from scratch but create a platform that can map a thousand or even more projects.

Andreas: We are in the process of systematically developing our modules. The industry has shown a lot of interest, and we have already been able to get companies such as ON, Swisscom, SWISS and IBM on board. For example, a company may have little experience with implementing AI in its business, and it thus would make good sense to set up a small think tank of students and ask them to work out various use cases for optimising the business processes by means of AI. Students can also carry out ongoing and exploratory tasks for which a company may lack the time, resources or knowledge. What’s more, there’s a war for talent in this area. So it’s good to engage students in the dialogue at a very early stage. Who knows, maybe bydo will even help someone to find a job.

Andreas and Peter, thank you very much for talking with us.

For more information about bydo, visit:

Monday, 12 August 2024, online, English
Monday, 9 September 2024, online, German

PROGRAMME INFO: MSc in Applied Information and Data Science
MORE FIELD REPORTS & EXPERIENCES: Professional portraits & study insights

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