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Serhii Mandziuk and his best practices in Software Engineering


How did you initially get interested in technology?

I have been interested in different technologies since childhood. Initially, it was modeling, working on electronics, soldering circuits, doing chemical experiments, disassembling, and assembling various mechanisms. As a teenager, I was into motorbikes – not only riding them but also trying to understand how they and their engines work. Back then I even mended motorcycles for my friends and my brother.

This was the reason I chose the National Aviation University and decided to be an engineer. Besides studying, my friends and I were fond of computers. In 2004-2008 a lot of students bought personal computers, so we helped others with configurations, selected components, fixed issues, and created local networks to be able to play computer games together.

Also at that time, some of my friends started working at IT companies and shared their experience with me. But aviation was my priority back then, so I decided not to change direction and continued my path in science and teaching.

Tell us more about your academic career and how (and why?) did you decide to pursue an engineering job? What were your first steps?

In my second year at university, I started working in the scientific research laboratory calculating  aerodynamics and then the strength of different constructions. This is how my academic career started – bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, Ph.D., presenting scientific papers at conferences, teaching at the university. At the same time, we worked on a variety of government and commercial projects.

During 2011-2016 I worked on my PhD dissertation on the improvement of methods for calculating the fatigue strength of aircraft wings. Even though the topic of my thesis was important and could bring certain economic benefits, the aircraft industry wasn’t interested. I wanted to participate in international projects, so I started looking for other opportunities.

While still at the university, I began to study Python and use it in my scientific research. From there, I had to study a lot of technologies, read books and articles to change direction, and start working in the IT field. Friends in the IT industry also helped and advised me.

A few years ago my life looked like this. In the morning I went to the university, taught my lectures or practice lessons, then in the afternoon I went to the office and worked there till 9-10 p.m.  On weekends, I was self-educating myself on technologies. The team at my first job was very supportive and, although I worked 10-12 hours per day, I was inspired and energized by the opportunities.

Why did you choose Python as a programming language?

I had prior developing experience where I used Pascal and Delphi to write specific pieces of code, but my friends advised me to use a more up-to-date programming language. By that time, I had been teaching and doing academic work for 7-8 years. Thus, I was looking for a programming language that could be applied in different spheres and convenient to work with math calculations and statistics. This is how I chose Python.

Do you plan to return to the university and work on academic studies again?

I’ve received several offers to teach at various IT schools but I don’t think I’m ready to teach again yet. There are still so many projects and directions I would like to try. Maybe, if I ever get tired of constant new frameworks and technologies I will become a professor.

How do you improve your technical skills?

There’s no better way than to practice, practice, and practice again. Start with small steps, tiny pet projects, try to repeat what you’ve seen on videos, classes and methods, and understand how the logic works. Every time you must try to understand why your application is working or failing. If you can’t understand it, find other ways to get the solution.

Learn open-source projects. Also there are a lot of excellent articles and books. When I was writing my dissertation thesis, most topics had only several relevant articles, which back then were already more than 30-50 years old. Now everything you need can be easily Googled. I read everything that is interesting to me or related to my work. I’m a research engineer by education, so some things that are obvious to an IT specialist are not to me.

Which project are you most proud of?

I am proud of each successful project that went the whole way from the idea to the delivery. Every person involved in the product creation, development and maintenance, can be proud when this product is used by customers and their clients.

Which trends are now the most popular in software engineering?

All issues with reliability, cybersecurity, and ransomware will always be at the forefront of the industry. The trends for durability and security of such huge systems will always evolve.

I would also like to draw some analogies in the field of IT and aviation. Throughout the history of aviation, there have been incidents that resulted in human casualties. That’s why specialists have come up with the basic requirements and testing of aircraft and their systems. If the aircraft can’t pass them, it cannot be allowed to fly. Plus almost all systems in aircraft are duplicated and have alternative controls. This permits the flight to land successfully even in the event of a failure.

The same should apply to critical applications and IT systems. I can draw a parallel to logging, monitoring, and alerting. Every important application or infrastructure should have such tools to identify and fix emerging issues quickly.

What do you like most about your job at Transcenda?

After years at the university with all its unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy, I am glad that I can focus only on my job. All processes at Transcenda are open and transparent, and I love that.

What are your hobbies and how do they shape you?

I like to ride my bicycle and play guitar with my friends. I also like to cook when I have time and inspiration. In my opinion, homemade food is way better than restaurants.

What is life like during the war, how do you balance work, and what is your hope for the future?

War is always a disaster. I didn’t believe war was possible in 21st century Europe, until February 24th when I woke to the sound of explosions.

I live in Kharkiv and the border is less than 30 km from my house. Since there was little time, I took the most necessary things and moved to central Ukraine. It is more peaceful here, although air raid alerts are regularly heard throughout the city. Several times I heard rockets flying near us. Now I’m somewhat used to it and just try to concentrate on my work.

When you’re busy with something, it helps fight stress and anxiety and I am grateful that my job brings some sense of stability into my life. Also special thanks to Transcenda for its support during this difficult time.

Many of my friends stayed in Kharkiv. We all try to help each other, many guys volunteer or join the Armed Forces of Ukraine. I believe that the war will end soon and we will be able to return home, rebuild everything that was destroyed and turn it into something even better than before.

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