Philip Heltweg

Who are you, and what do you do? With whom are you collaborating (Partner)?

My name is Philip Heltweg, and I am a doctoral student at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. I research how to make open data easy to use and increase its quality by enabling collaborative data engineering. In Software Campus I work with my industry partner Springer Nature as part of Holtzbrinck. You can find more details about me on my homepage, 😉

Since when are you a participant at Software Campus, and why do you attend this program?

My project started in January 2023. I joined for the chance to work more closely with industry and see my research applied in a practical setting. In addition, I am excited to gain more experience with managing a larger research project and the employees I will be able to hire.

What is your IT-Project about – core topic – and how could it be used in the long run?

My project is about making data engineering easier and more accessible, especially for subject-matter experts in complex data-domains (like the ones Springer Nature/Holtzbrinck works with). With the Software Campus, we are working on a domain-specific language to model data pipelines that allow subject-matter experts to contribute to data engineering projects.
In the long term, we hope to enable data users to collaboratively improve their data sources and use them for their innovative applications, be it software tools, reports, or AI.

Do you have some funny/exciting/surprising memories linked with computer science?
What exactly inspires and fascinates you about computer science?

Work in computer science fascinates me because small teams can create amazing projects and the barrier to participation is relatively low. I like that it always gives me the feeling of “Why not fix it yourself?” when I think about a problem.
I also like that very complex systems can grow from elegant and simple implementations. We are building a domain-specific language to model data pipelines right now, and I still remember the first time we ran a program with our interpreter (that actually did what we wanted it to do).

Which app/technical invention is more than essential to you?

I have completely lost the ability to navigate the world without Google Maps, so right now my vote goes to them. There are apps with similar features based on open data and the OpenStreetMap contributors are doing amazing work, so I’ve tried to train myself to use their apps as well.

In your opinion, is there a ‘specific’ character trait which a high-level manager should be fond of to be successful?

Be interested in the actual work your team is doing. Even for pure people managers, I believe. Having basic technical skills and the ability to speak to experts is a must. Otherwise, I’ve come to appreciate the thoughtful management skills related to diversity and keeping cultural differences in mind that are taught in a lot of the Software Campus training as well.

Next to your job and Software Campus, what makes your heart beat faster?

Running quite literally makes my heart beat faster. I use it to get some time away from the computer and to challenge myself. I’ve run some smaller distances in organized events so far (up to a half-marathon) and like the positive environment, no matter how fast you get to the finish line.


Source language of this interview: English