20 March 2023

Fontys ICT explores launch of new Lectorates

Applied research is taking on an increasingly important role within higher education. In the link between education and applied research, lectorates play a central role, and with the completion of the Open Educational Resources (OER) lectorate in 2022, Fontys ICT is readying itself for the future by preparing new lectorates focused on the broad and rapid development of the ICT field and the growing importance of AI and private-public partnerships.

Lectorate candidates

Establishing a lectorate is a thorough process, involving the necessary preparation and exploration. In this process, Fontys expressly seeks the link with social interests and needs, carefully considering where to focus its attention. ICT is a challenging field for research because the often lengthy process of research is difficult to keep in step with the lightning-fast innovation cycle in ICT. Three candidate lectors have therefore been appointed to prepare lectorates, namely Herman Jurjus, Mark Madsen and Simona Orzán. They thus follow in the footsteps of Robert Schuwer's OER lectorate, which focused on developing the education needed for today's ICT.

A broad and agile lectorate?

Herman Jurjus and Mark Madsen explore a special type of lectorate; a broad lectorate that can act agile to changes in the field, such as low-code/no-code (facilitating a simpler development process with less/no code) and the growing role of cybersecurity. The boundaries between disciplines are blurring and so are the needs from education and research. A broad lectorate is almost a necessity, according to Madsen: "If you look at the variation in hardware and software used, along with the exponential growth in the number of devices, cybersecurity is becoming essential across the board. In every aspect of the digital world and for every stage of the ICT lifecycle. A broad lectorate can be incredibly valuable in adding, but also transforming, the research roles that Fontys ICT needs in the long term."

Jurjus focuses mainly on low-code/no-code. The concept has been around for some time, but now less code-intensive technology is seen as possible labour shortages and keeping up with developments: "We are currently seeing a new generation of products, rapidly growing in number and popularity. However, many wonderful tools are not yet finding their way to the killer business case, while companies that start working with them enthusiastically have already noticed that they are short of specialised professionals. A flexible lectorate where low-code/no-code has a place could be exactly what is needed now: a network where knowledge and experience is built and shared, and linked to that close link with education."

Green Artificial Intelligence

Simona Orzán is involved in a multitude of projects within the existing lectorate AI & Big Data, but will now prepare for a new line within this. Possibly in the form of a lectorate or lector position. The existing lectorate AI & Big Data under Gerard Schouten has a challenge because of the broad impact of AI. Specialization may offer a solution here, and using AI for biodiversity and nature management in particular offers opportunities, according to Orzán: "We conveniently call this 'Green AI', but we are actually talking about how to use data smartly to stimulate action to tackle acute nature and climate issues. In fact, there is already a lot of relevant data available, which needs to be translated into insights and effective actions. Therein lies an important task for our practice-based research. The recently created L.INT grant, for lector positions in both a teaching and research institution, also offers perspective in view of our good relationship with the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre. The challenge now is to find the best form for this."

The exploration of new lectorates is part of the future vision from Fontys ICT to take a (international) pivotal role as a knowledge institute in the region in applied ICT issues. Representation in the form of lectorate is a necessary part of this.

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