There are twenty applicants for each place in the integrated smart systems engineering programme implemented under the Erasmus Mundus programme with BME’s engagement.
“Our unique master’s programme, which involves three European universities, including BME, trains engineers to design and develop smart systems integrated solutions,” Ferenc Ender, associate professor at the Department of Electron Devices (EET) of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics (BME VIK), the programme’s BME coordinator, said when speaking about the international Master in Smart Systems Integrated Solutions (SSIs) MSc programme, offered under the Erasmus Mundus programme for eight years. “The programme was first proposed, and is still coordinated, by Márta Rencz, professor emerita. Ten years ago, we started working together to revise a formerly unsuccessful application, which was eventually selected to be funded by the European Union in the face of extremely tight competition,” VIK’s young professor said remembering the beginnings. The programme involving BME has already been awarded EU funds three times, which is very rare among the study programmes financed under this initiative. The quality of the programme is reflected by the fact that there are nearly 20 applicants for each place and that some of the students are even willing to self-fund the costs that total roughly HUF 6 million. The courses of the current SSIs programme are offered by BME, the Norwegian University of South-Eastern Norway and the Aalto University from Finland from September 2021. (A former member of the consortium was the Heriot-Watt University from Scotland but as the United Kingdom has left the European Union, the Finnish university joined the consortium as a new partner.) The majority of the courses at BME are taught by the BME VIK EET and the curriculum also includes courses in Hungarian language and culture, which are delivered by the Centre of Modern Languages.
|Erasmus Mundus is a cooperation and mobility programme in the field of higher education designed to promote the European Union as a centre of excellence in learning around the world. This initiative supports the implementation of high quality European master’s programmes in order to enhance the visibility and attractiveness of European higher education in third countries. Further strategic goals are the improvement of the quality of higher education in Europe and the promotion of intercultural cooperation, understanding and tolerance. Other objectives are the enhancement of the quality and excellence of European higher education; the promotion of the mobility of third-country students and academics; the establishment of structured cooperation with higher education institutions from third countries; the improvement of the accessibility, the profile and the visibility of European higher education.For further information, please visit the Erasmus Mundus institutional information website at.To access the English language website of the master programme, please click on this link.|
“All the members of the consortium agreed to develop a complex, quality programme, which requires the three excellent technology universities to harmonise their educational programme. The syllabus of the master’s programme was created to ensure that all the participating institutions teach their strongest competences to the students. This is a combination of knowledge that can only be achieved through the cooperation of the three universities meaning that the departure of one partner would lead to the loss of the thematic coherence of the programme. Our joint knowledge programme is unique not only in Europe but throughout the world,” said Ferenc Ender promoting the Erasmus Mundus initiative offering funding only to 1% of the master’s programmes available in Europe. He added that the quality of the competences and skills obtained in the programme is assured and the joint master’s degree awarded, as a particular feature of the programme, is recognised and considered as their own by all the participating institutions and signed by the heads of all three universities.
Admission is highly dependent on the quality of the bachelor’s degree, the international ranking of the institution awarding the degree, personal motivation, professional background and the presentation of previous technical reference projects to a committee. Every year, no more than 15 to 20 students are admitted to the programme, a limit introduced by the creators of the initiative to maintain the high quality of education. This limited number promotes the approach of learning-by-doing; for the two-year SSIs basically include only team-based project work. Students admitted receive a scholarship of EUR 1,000 per month for two years to cover their subsistence costs, including accommodation, and are also eligible for support of travel costs.
The SSIS master’s programme is designed to train engineers who will be able to successfully respond to the current and potential future problems and dilemmas of integrated microsystem technology. Students will learn the design and manufacturing technology of sensors and actuators, the essential components of modern smart systems and will obtain a thorough understanding of the modelling, design and testing of integrated systems comprised of such components. The use of smart systems is rapidly spreading in major areas of our day-to-day lives such as the transport industry, health care, the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems, industrial robotics and smart devices for everyday use. Students will be able to learn about the most recent advances in technology and become familiar with the sector’s leading companies across Europe and the technical solutions applied by them. Strong interaction with the industry is the programme’s fundamental element; the SSIs consortium has industrial partners practically everywhere in Europe and the students are allowed access to this extensive business network. The competences and skills obtained by the end of the programme may be successfully deployed in most industrial sectors improving, among other things, productivity and competitiveness.
The first three semesters of the four-semester programme initially focus on the fundamentals of smart systems from the technology to design for sustainability as well as on the design, development and integration of the sensors these systems consist of. In the second semester, students choose from two specialisations: traditional microsystems or lab-on-a-chip devices. In the programme’s final semester, students may choose from the master’s thesis topics provided by BME and the other academic, industrial partners and research institutes. “Following their final examination, our graduate engineers will stand a good chance of being selected for a job in this field in any European country. What we see is that around fifty per cent of the students are interested in a career in academia and decide to complete a doctoral programme in a European country. The other fifty per cent usually secure themselves a coveted job in the industry: our students are highly sought by automotive development centres, innovative businesses and start-ups, cutting-edge corporations developing biomedical applications or industry giants specialising in the design of digital circuits (e.g. Microchip, ARM, Silicon Laboratories etc.). We are proud to see that many of our previous students have chosen to work and live in Budapest. SSIs students in Budapest now have their own community, “family”,” said Ferenc Ender who thinks that the “European brain drain programme” is working well: the programme’s participants benefit from the intellectual capital and networks built during the programme in Europe or in their home country but relying strongly on their European relationships.
The programme’s BME coordinator also spoke about the programme’s recently introduced new components. Entrepreneurship studies are now part of the syllabus, partly in response to student needs. More and more graduates are being employed by start-ups and new businesses where success, in addition to providing efficient technical solutions, depends strongly on the understanding of market needs and effective business management. Furthermore, the first semester now includes an industry-specific project assignment or case study. First-year students are now required to establish virtual businesses, start-ups to address a real market problem. These “businesses” are working on problems such as modern cattle grazing methods, the monitoring of the sleep quality of babies or the improvement of the quality of life of diabetes patients. By the end of the semester, they have to develop a prototype and then pitch their ideas to a committee including, in part, external professionals. A new idea is being piloted in the current first year to test whether students should continue to work on the technical solution and full development of their proposition in the second and third semesters based on the core curriculum of each semester. Ferenc Ender stressed that they place strong emphasis on community building by offering a one-week summer camp, after the second semester at Lake Balaton, full of professional programmes and workshops. The camp includes presentations from local and foreign professionals and alumni who speak about their projects and their progress. The newest addition to the programme is a winter school in Norway, which is going to be organised for the first time in a few weeks, in February 2022.
Personal accounts from former participants of the Erasmus Mundus programme:
He has a degree in control engineering and robotics from the Wroclav University of Science and Technology and has previously worked at the Wroclaw Agglomeration Development Agency and in the sales and marketing division of Becton Dickinson.
“In addition to the professional and multidisciplinary competences taught, what attracted me to the programme was the opportunity to network with students from different cultural backgrounds in an international environment. I enjoyed being part of the research and industrial projects. BME offered me exactly what I was looking for and laboratory tests were my absolute favourite activity. I completed my internship at BME’s start-up, Spinsplit where we worked on real-life industrial problems. After graduating, I worked for Spinsplit as a data analyst.
In total, I spent two years in Budapest. It is a beautiful city with amazing architecture and a multicultural community and other attractions for practically everybody.
Currently, I work as a business analyst at Deloitte Digital UK where I work on the development of a sales strategy for the public sector.”
Before the SSIs programme, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering in Bangladesh.
“What attracted me in the SSIs master’s programme was that it offered to help improve my competences in two fields I am interested in very much, which are microsystems and electronics. Before I applied, I spoke to SSIs alumni I knew and I also took into account the professional and career prospects the degree awarded by the programme provides.
BME did turn out to be a great choice. It is the best technology university in Hungary and the SSIs programme included excellent courses, tasks, team and individual projects, which all helped me learn competences and skills that I have been using ever since. I was already keeping an eye on the domestic labour market while I was writing my master’s thesis and found a job almost immediately after I arrived back home.
Budapest is a real multicultural city with numerous exciting free time activities and where many businesses are based offering opportunities to complete internships and collect professional experience.”
“After obtaining a degree in mechatronics engineering, I was working as a test software engineer at Intel when I applied for the SSIs programme. I had worked previously in a university research team and spent one summer in Canada as an intern.
I applied for the SSIs programme because I was very interested in the academic content but I also liked that it is delivered in an international environment. Earlier, I heard lots of great things about Budapest from a friend of mine who spent a semester at BME as a mobility student. Budapest is indeed a beautiful city where young foreigners can find a lot to do and see. The best part of the programme was the semester at BME where we had many practice-oriented courses and I learned lots of practical competences and skills. I completed my master’s thesis project at a start-up founded by BME. After graduating, I decided to stay in Budapest and I have been working as an application engineer at Silicon Laboratories for two years now. Both the programme and Budapest were the right choice because I find here exactly what I am looking for.”