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Bangladesh JUG Leaders Experience Working with the Junior Developers

A N M Bazlur Rahman
A N M Bazlur Rahman Member Posts: 1 Red Ribbon
edited Jun 5, 2020 11:57PM in Java in Education

The Java User Group, Bangladesh was founded when I just stepped my foot to the industry after graduating from the University of Dhaka. It was 2013. I always loved Java back in school and fortunately found a job in the same field. Things were pretty good for me. I was learning many things related to Java and contributing to a large-scale enterprise software at work. However, though I love this technology and want to talk about it, I didn’t find many people with the same interest. Bangladesh has a small footprint in terms of the software industry in contrast to the global scale and was no formalized group effort to discuss and share the knowledge with other professionals. I was looking out how things were done in other parts of the world, and the idea of having a Java user group attracted me. I started talking about it with my colleagues, which leads to the creation of the Facebook group named Java User Group Bangladesh. We tried many different things, for example, Google plus, meetup, website- but it turned out the Facebook group only worked well for us.  We have now 8 thousand members in the group with significant active members.

The initial idea was just to start the discussion and spread the knowledge with the colleagues. Then we started doing informal meetup and which later led to full-fledged conferences. We invited many international speakers through online sessions, for example- we had Bruno Souza, Dr. Heinz Kabuts, Reza Rahman, Andres Almiray, and many more.  A few local companies stepped up and sponsored our events. Besides the events, informal discussions, we did an open-source project from our user group that helped the Burn & Plastic Surgery Department, Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Bangladesh. The piece of software is being used internally to track patient information and generating reports. The source code helped many students and junior developers later learning how to develop similar software in many aspects.

Even though the group was initially formed by the professionals, we didn't keep it only among them. We started inviting the students later. It's always been the case that we have a significant portion of our audience and members of those who are students. They still have many questions regarding why they need to learn Java, especially where Java is being used; they would want to see the use-cases. The answers to these questions were not always apparent to the students; the reason is Java being used predominantly in the enterprise rather than developing small software, for example- a simple web application. Although Java doesn't stop you from doing it, however, it would take much effort to write a simple personal web blog in Java and then hosting it somewhere on the internet. On the other hand, some other technology would have easier steps to achieve simpler things. Sometimes this would prevent many students from pursuing Java.

We seem to have a gap between industry and academia, which is quite wide. Wring a simple tic-toe game, or an excellent swing application doesn't always put out the interest of going more in-depth in the stack. I was sort of lucky when I was in school. I had a good network with the professionals. I used to communicate with them with many questions which helped me to know what's going on in the industry and how sophisticated software system is built and maintained. When I came to the industry, I felt that learning directly from the professionals would minimize the gap between academia and industry, the way it did to me. Let's face the truth; an academician doesn't always have a full grasp of how the software would be developed in the industry in practice; the reason is, they both have different focuses. Of course, there would be some exceptions. The university I came from was interested in minimizing the gap, which leads me to teach the students for two years as a guest faculty while I was in the industry. I used to go to my campus and instruct classes every weekend. It was a phenomenal experience. Since I had industry experience, and I was newly graduated, my mindset didn't fade away yet. I could directly relate the thought process of students and were able to teach with their wavelengths. Later, I accumulated the experience I gathered from teaching students and wrote a book called Java Programming in my native language. It became very popular in a short time. I aimed the book to the students who have some programming background and started learning Java but yet have many questions, for example- why they should learn Java in the first place. I started the book with the little history of how Java was created, how it has become so popular, where it is being used predominantly, how they can be benefited, how they can access hundreds of thousands of production codebases throughout the world. That initial preamble, I believed, motivated a lot of students learning Java.

There is another aspect too.  I have seen many course outlines that are being taught in academia are outdated, and some cases are obsolete. For example, we don't use Applet anymore; still, in many universities, the Applet is in their course outline. This needs to be fixed. I was privileged to work with one of my professors, who took my help while he was creating a course outline for one of his courses.

So what are the takeaways?

1. I believe, answer to the why questions matter. To motivate students, we should first create the premise and then showcase the use case. We have so much information out there on the internet that mostly targeted professionals who are already in the fields. Creating content with the answers to the why questions, e.g., articles, books, and short videos focusing specifically on students at the college/university, would motivate them more.

2. Academia has a different goal, and from my experience, most professors have a different mindset than what we have who work in the industry. The gap between the two groups is wide. To minimize the gap, the collaboration between the two groups is hugely essentials. That may include taking classes, giving talks targeting the students, visiting campus, helping professors creating course outline and study materials, etc.


A N M Bazlur Rahman


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