#5QW: Johannes Vass
Johannes noticed that despite the nerdy informatics image, you need to display social skills for communicating successfully in big software projects.
Since completing his studies, Johannes Vass is working as Software Engineer and Data Scientist at Cloudflight. He enjoys working there because he has a lot of freedom to work independently and deepen his knowledge and experience. Johannes was one of the first two graduates of our Bachelor with Honors excellence program in January 2019.
How did you get in touch with Informatics?
It was in school. I went to a grammar school and not to an HTL, so I did not have the chance to do anything with Informatics, except for this school informatics things, which is Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In the last three years, we could choose some courses, and I decided to take the Informatics course, which was quite basic because it was not the school’s target. However, the teacher was qualified and managed to teach the ones who were interested in the basics of programming. We didn’t do any fancy stuff, but we covered the basics. I thought, “Yes, well, let’s try Computer Science at TU Wien.”
What makes Informatics so fascinating for you?
It’s the unlimited possibilities you have. You can do things in so many work areas, and you are not limited to any domain. You can choose where you want to go. You don’t have to choose your specialisation too early. You get introduced to different studies, but you have broad options to choose from inside the curriculum, and you learn many basics.
Where do you see the connection between your research and everyday life?
In my research for my masters in algorithms and problem solving, I received a real-life problem from a company in Vienna that cooperates with the Christian Doppler Laboratory. The goal is to optimize the product mix, which products are produced on which day. Producing companies receive orders which they need to deliver by some due date, and they need to create the products by taking some constraints—they need to make them in time, and the production needs to run efficiently. This is a planning and scheduling problem. The optimal product mix is to be found; that is what I did in my master thesis.
Which talents should people bring along for a career in Informatics?
I think the most crucial thing is analytical skills, problem-solving skills: to be able and have fun in analyzing and solving problems, that is what you do when you code. The second important thing is social skills which I wouldn’t have thought of when I started studying, but software projects are so large that you rarely can do them alone. You need to be able to work in teams. For the success of the project, this is a significant thing. The nerdy image of programmers might be sometimes true, but also those people need to communicate at least with other computer scientists.
Why do you think there are still so few women in Informatics?
It is probably the cliche that a computer scientist is this nerdy male type. Also, the problem starts earlier. A significant percentage of students come from HTLs, where the rate of women is meager. There are not many girls around there. The time when you decide on a specialized school is at the age of 13 or 14 years, and none of the girls which I knew at this age chose to go to an HTL or technical subjects. Also, for me, it was maybe too early to make a choice. The girls were really amongst the best in mathematics in my school, so I don’t see any logical reason why they wouldn’t study informatics or technical studies. But few people chose to do technical studies from my school, a grammar school, so maybe that is not representative.