Manjeet Rege, Mike Thyken and Jote Taddese.
(l-r): Manjeet Rege, Mike Thyken and Jote Taddese

School of Engineering’s Software Engineering and Data Science Department Welcomes Jote Taddese as Strategic Advisory Board Chair

Jote Taddese, vice president of software engineering at Optum, has been named the chair of the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering’s Software Engineering and Data Science Department’s Strategic Advisory Board.

The school thanks Mike Thyken, the outgoing Department of Software Engineering and Data Science Strategic Advisory Board chair, for his 17 years of dedicated service. “Mike Thyken’s exceptional leadership as chair of our Strategic Advisory Board has been invaluable. His guidance and the board’s industry insights enabled us to launch forward-looking programs like our MS in Data Science and most recently the MS in AI that address evolving workforce needs,” said Dr. Manjeet Rege, professor and chair of the Department of Software Engineering and Data Science.

Rege continued, “We are delighted to welcome Jote Taddese, a distinguished alumnus and IT leader at Optum, as the new chair of our Advisory Board. Jote’s passion for education combined with his expertise will be instrumental as we enhance our curriculum and strengthen industry partnerships. With Jote’s vision, our Advisory Board will play a pivotal role in identifying emerging technologies and co-designing curricula that prepare students with cutting-edge, industry-aligned skills. His leadership will open new opportunities for applied learning experiences through closer ties with top corporations.”

The St. Thomas Newsroom asked Taddese to share his vision for catalyzing growth, fostering innovation and generating significant impact.

What are the greatest opportunities you see for the Department of Software Engineering and Data Science?

The first opportunity involves continuously updating the curriculum to align with the most current trends and technologies in software engineering and data science. This ensures our graduates are fully equipped for the evolving workforce.

The second opportunity centers on forging robust industry partnerships and collaborations with Minnesota’s top companies by creating interdisciplinary hubs. These hubs will bring together expertise from software engineering, data science, and other fields such as biotechnology, environmental science, health care, and finance. Such partnerships will offer students in software engineering and data science hands-on, real-world experience through internships and co-op programs. They will also facilitate research projects that could lead to the commercialization of technologies and services developed at the university.

How does the Strategic Advisory Board advance the mission of the school?

To effectively advance the university’s mission, the Strategic Advisory Board has an opportunity to undertake a series of targeted actions and initiatives. These include strengthening industry partnerships to ensure curriculum relevance and enhance job placement opportunities; enhancing academic offerings by integrating cutting-edge fields and technologies; fostering alumni engagement to leverage their expertise and networks for the benefit of current students; supporting entrepreneurship and innovation through the creation of incubators and accelerators; and enhancing community engagement to build meaningful connections with local and global communities.

What inspires you about the University of St. Thomas?

I would like to acknowledge the transformative impact Dr. Manjeet Rege has had over the past three years as the department chair. Under his leadership, the curriculum has been thoroughly revamped. Moreover, Manjeet has served as an exceptional ambassador for the program. I am also deeply inspired by the opportunity to serve my alma mater and this new role provides me with a unique opportunity to help elevate the university as the regional leader in delivering innovative course offerings in the Software Engineering and Data Science programs.

What are your priorities during your year as chair?

As the incoming board chairperson, I am committed to dedicating significant time to listening, learning, and engaging in dialogue about the key objectives, challenges, and opportunities of the Engineering and Data Science Program. My foremost priority will be to proactively explore innovative curriculum strategies and forge industry partnerships. These efforts will aim to optimize the delivery of the Software Engineering and Data Science curriculum to our global student body, enhancing its reach and impact.

“Our department remains committed to proactively evolving our programs with input from esteemed industry leaders serving on our Strategic Advisory Board. Their firsthand perspective ensures our graduates are armed with the capabilities to drive innovation and success across sectors,” said Rege.