Dora Dzvonyar is a doctoral candidate in informatics and a lecturer at the Technical University of Munich, where she heads up a large project course for software engineering, with students getting hands-on experience in real projects in collaboration with industry. She is also a TEDx organiser, curator and coach for science and tech communication.
Dora is taking part in the first Soapbox Science event in Munich, which takes place on 7th July 2018 between 2pm and 5pm at Odeonsplatz in front of the Feldherrnhalle. The title of her talk is: “Dealing with change in development”
Software engineering – realising whatever is in your head using code
I studied Information Systems at Technical University of Munich and gained a lot of experience working as a technical consultant in industry, mostly developing mobile apps for the automotive industry. I think I knew that I wanted to go into computer science at a rather young age, and my parents always supported me in this journey.
I really love software engineering because it offers a myriad of possibilities: You can realise whatever is in your head using code! What I love even more, however, is that teaching a Ph.D. enables me to combine both, and I’ve been enjoying the ride a lot so far.
Combining teaching and research
Most of my day to day job involves teaching: I head a large project course in which students develop applications in a mobile context in collaboration with industry partners. I get to teach motivated students how to understand requirements and communicate with a non-technical customer, how to transform those requirements into a software architecture, how to write good code and collaborate within their team.
On the research side of things, I am particularly interested in what factors help software teams to work well together, and how project managers can create teams that thrive both in terms of skills and interpersonal relationships. This can be nicely combined with the environment I teach in, so I enjoy exploring the intersection of both activities.
Science can’t exist without good communication
I believe that science can’t exist without good communication. The most exciting research lives from an interdisciplinary view on things, and how do we get ahead if we only ever talk to people in our own field? As a TEDx organiser, I get to curate an extremely diverse event focused on making knowledge accessible to a broad audience, and I enjoy coaching the speakers for the event a lot.
I’m extremely passionate about helping people get what is in their head out in the most engaging and interesting way possible. When I found Soapbox Science through social media I didn’t think twice about applying to speak: How can I NOT be a role model for what I teach?
I am planning to make my talk interactive, so I’m practicing that with a small group. Otherwise I do what I also tell all speakers to do – rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Advice for girls and women interested in careers in science
If you feel you are interested in something, just try it out! What is there to lose? Write down the things that interest you, pick the one that intrigues you the most and find a programme for it near you.
You can also write to scientists who are active in that particular field and already doing outreach. See if you can go to one of their lectures or maybe visit them at work. Don’t be shy – most people feel flattered when someone is genuinely interested in their work. The most important things is to get your hands dirty – you’ll know if it feels right if you try it out.
Don’t base your decisions on the opinions of others
A friend once told me that whenever I make decisions, I shouldn’t make them dependent on another person’s opinion: People change their minds all the time and there is no guarantee that things won’t change. It helps me a lot in trying to figure out what the best option is (not only in my career, but also my personal life).
I am planning to submit my thesis in 2018 and then, let’s see! My dream is to have a career in science and tech communication, where I get to work at the intersection of many fields, meet incredibly smart and interesting people and work on their ideas with them.