MBE - acquiring project skills...

SHB launches master's program in Bulgaria

In June 2010, Steinbeis University Berlin joined forces with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the VUZF University and the GIS Transfer Center Foundation in Sofia. It is all part of a cooperation agreement to set up the successful SHB Master of Business Engineering degree in Bulgaria. The first course gets underway in late 2011.

There are only a limited number of ways to enter “dual education,” not just in Bulgaria, but in the whole of southeast Europe. Most degrees at local universities focus primarily on areas such as general administration and business. The SHB approach, which combines a live project at a company with phases of classroom teaching at the university, is not yet in use.

The idea of setting up the MBE program in Bulgaria is the result of more than ten years of collaboration between the Steinbeis Foundation and the GIS Transfer Center Foundation in Bulgaria. As part of a series of joint projects, the two parties became distinctly aware of some key problems in the countries of southeast Europe. Highly qualified workers, especially those between 24 and 45, are moving abroad – there’s a classic brain drain. Also, young people are not really interested in engineering, and companies need people with project skills. The fact that there is currently a shortage of qualified engineers throughout Europe – and that university programs need to open up much more to industry and overall economic developments – only galvanized the resolve of all parties to push ahead with the project. After a series of preparatory meetings in Bulgaria and Germany, the official agreement was signed in June of last year by Professor Florin Ionescu, Director for East Europe, at the Steinbeis Center of Management and Technology (SCMT) at Steinbeis University Berlin. Work immediately got underway to set up the program.

A series of information events are currently being staged to help companies of all sizes improve existing project management know-how within the business and introduce innovative methods of project administration and business intelligence systems. It is already clear from the first events just how challenging it will be to bring the Bulgarian business mindset in line with the approach underlying the MBE program. The MBE principle of on-the-job training fits in with European training, research and innovation strategies. There are increasing overlaps between industry and science as companies invest more in the education of highly qualified workers in a push to secure loyalty to the company as an employer. First steps have already been taken to get the process underway, but there’s still a long way to go to instill the concept of free market competition in Bulgaria. The MBE program at the SCMT is one such first step. The program partners’ aim is to move toward international, practice-based training that offers truly integrated knowledge transfer. This benefits students just as much as the companies where they carry out their projects. Bulgarian staff involved in projects then also receive regular mentoring as part of a one-year project skills program. The lecturers and mentors working on the current MBE program have been selected from experts at VUZF University. The project managers have also set up a database of project partners who will supervise students and oversee the running of projects within the companies.

The project partners

Founded in the 19th century, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is the oldest and largest research institute in Bulgaria. The academy has institutes actively involved in all areas of fundamental research and the applied sciences.

The VUZF University is Bulgaria’s first private university specialized in the fields of finance, insurance, social security, management and marketing.

A franchise company belonging to the Steinbeis Foundation, the GIS Transfer Center Foundation is actively involved in the exchange of experience between science and business, as well as the transfer of marketable findings and technology.

The Steinbeis Center of Management and Technology (SCMT) is working on the project as an operating unit within the university. It is responsible for coordinating and running seminars and the degree programs in Bulgaria. The School of Management and Technology is one of the largest schools at SHB and the academic unit within the SCMT.

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