AIT Hungary focuses on computer science

Budapest photosImagine spending a semester on the banks of the “blue” Danube, studying at an elite Hungarian institute devoted entirely to computer sciences and software engineering– and designed specifically for North American students.

At an institute where instruction is in English and the class size is an intimate 5 to 15 students.

And where the distinguished faculty includes András Falus (Professor of Genetics and Immunology and member of the Hungarian Academy of Science), software entrepreneur Gábor Bojár (founder of Graphisoft, a successful global software company from Central Europe) – and Ernő Rubik (the inventor of Rubik’s cube).

The Aquincum Institute of Technology (AIT) in Budapest, Hungary, becomes an officially sanctioned University of Rochester study abroad site this fall.

Computer science majors should definitely take note.

Stay right on schedule

“They have very strong foundational theory courses that our students could take there and stay right on schedule. At AIT in Budapest, students can take fun electives and fulfill major requirements. It’s a great option for studying abroad” said Marty Guenther, undergraduate coordinator for the Department of Computer Science. She visited AIT in May with UR Study Abroad Director Jackie Levine to learn more about the institute and the city to better advise computer science students about experiences available at AIT. “They also have strong design courses, which will complement our HCI (human computer interaction) and design courses and research at Rochester.”

The Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has placed a high priority on increasing the participation rate of its students in study abroad to 25 percent.

Study abroad is especially important for engineering students given our global society. Chances are, they’ll be working on projects that involve other countries at some point during their careers.

“If you have study abroad on your resume, it will make you more marketable when you look for a job,” added John Lambropoulos, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Computer science undergraduates are particularly well placed to take advantage of study abroad opportunities because they have more flexibility in their schedule than other engineering students, Guenther noted. Planning a four-year schedule as early as freshmen year helps students see when this opportunity works best for them.

Junior year would be “ideal” to study at AIT, she added.

Opportunities for internships

AIT’s curriculum integrates design, entrepreneurship, and foundational courses in computer science with advanced applications like computational biology and computer vision applications for digital cinema.  

"They have corporate affiliations with some interesting companies that do computer vision and sound related to the Hollywood movie industry, including the company that worked on the Lord of the Ring movies,” Guenther said. “Students are taught by industrial professionals and have an opportunity to do projects and internships there.”

In fact, “they would like to encourage students to study for a semester and stay for internships the following the summer. They would help with the arrangements, and the student visa then would carry over. There are so many different kinds of opportunities there.”

AIT also incorporates humanities courses related to Hungary’s rich cultural heritage. For example, students can take a class about Budapest itself, which traces its roots back 21 centuries. “It’s historical in a way most Americans could not comprehend,” Guenther said. “They’re resilient people who welcome English speaking people with open arms.”

Budapest an 'incredible city'

During her visit, Guenther witnessed the city’s beauty and culture firsthand, visiting historical monuments, taking a guided photo tour of the city and traveling to a scenic village on the outskirts, and attending the opera. “We had dinner on a boat moored on the Danube and watched the sun go down and lights on the bridges come on as the moon came up. It was just so romantic. It’s an incredible city.”

“It's also inexpensive compared to a lot of other European cities,” Guenther added.

To learn more about AIT and other study abroad opportunities for engineering students, contact Rohan Palma, academic advisor in the Hajim School deans office.

Mart Guenther in Budapest.
Marty Guenther in Budapest, spring 2014.