FIS VŠE extended partnership with SCET UC Berkeley

Know-how from a leading American university will reach all students of the faculty’s data programs.

We talked to Martin Potančok, Deputy Head of the Department of Information Technology at FIS VŠE, about how the partnership came about, what it involves and what benefits it brings to students.

Why did the collaboration between VŠE and UC Berkeley happen? And what is the partnership about?

In 2019, the Faculty of Informatics and Statistics entered into a partnership agreement with UC Berkeley, which builds on a long-standing relationship between the two institutions. This was primarily a collaboration with xPORT VŠE on the topics of business development and startup funding. At that time, there was also a greater emphasis on establishing a quality partnership due to the creation of the VSE Data & Analytics for Business Management MBA program powered by KPMG.  The partnership includes collaboration on teaching, research and short and long term stays of FIS VŠE staff at UC Berkeley and lectures by UC Berkeley staff at FIS VŠE.

How do the universities collaborate on teaching preparation?

We collaborate with the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET), which is a leading institute at UC Berkeley for the study and practice of data and technology-driven innovation and entrepreneurship. Among other things, they have developed the Data-X methodology for developing and teaching advanced analytics applications.

We share our experiences with the institute team to help each other develop new programs and courses. This is mainly about substantive issues and specific knowledge, but we also inspire each other in the way we teach. The emphasis is on intensive interaction between students and lecturers, teamwork and open discussion. I believe that it is this aspect of collaboration that benefits our students the most.

And how is the collaboration at the scientific level?

The collaboration with UC Berkeley involves scientific research projects in the field of data analytics and analytical services. Based on the establishment of the collaboration with the SCET team in the area of data analytics, several projects with publication outputs have already been implemented. These were mainly in the areas of data literacy, weak signal early warning systems and analytics services and their management.

You also mentioned the exchange visits to universities. What are they for?

The FIS VŠE staff exchange visits to UC Berkeley serve to learn about the environment of UC Berkeley and other universities in the USA, to transfer knowledge in the field of science, teaching and collaboration with practice, and to further establish international cooperation. In turn, UC Berkeley staff (Ikhlaq Sidhu, Susan Giesecke and Alexander Fred-Ojala) regularly visit FIS VŠE and speak at conferences and seminars such as Data-X courses.

And what role do you play in this partnership?

I am actively involved in the aforementioned research projects with SCET UC Berkeley. At the same time, I am in charge of the coordination of all activities of FIS VŠE and SCET UC Berkeley.

What can students look forward to in the near future thanks to the partnership?

Our students can look forward to a fresh batch of experiences from the fall collaborations and visits that my colleagues and I will incorporate into our courses, including the MBA ones. The first will be the Data Management and Analytics for Business course, in which I will incorporate the outcomes from a project I worked on in California during the fall. Also new are the Competitive Intelligence and Data-X Fundamentals of Analytical Methods courses. The icing on the cake will be the Data-X Advanced Analytics course, which will be taught by Alexander Fred-Ojala from UC Berkeley in May.