Transact partners with University of Limerick on unique Immersive Software Engineering program

January 12, 2023

Life On Campus

“I expect the program to be an incubator of software industry innovators.” 

~ John Burton, VP of Product Development, Transact Campus 

There’s a high demand for software engineers worldwide, prompting companies and universities to get creative in their quest to find top tech talent. One such creative approach is called the Immersive Software Engineering (ISE) program at the University of Limerick (UL) in Limerick, Ireland. John Burton, Vice President of Product Development at Transact Campus, serves as program liaison for students placed at Transact’s Limerick office. Burton and John Gleeson, General Manager at Transact, have a history of partnering with UL on courses, but this is Transact’s first engagement. 

“It’s because we feel very strongly about it,” said Burton. 

“Computer science is not taught this way anywhere else in the world,” he said. “It’s the only program of its kind.” 

The unique course allows students to earn a master’s degree in four years as opposed to five or six years. It’s taught in a studio environment, and students are treated as employees, working 40 hours a week. 

“It’s similar to the way medical students are taught; they have residencies where students can get hands-on learning,” said Burton. 

Students are placed or “embedded” in a software company, such as Transact, to solidify what they’ve learned in the course through real-world interaction with software teams. Acceptance in the course is highly competitive, with only 26 accepted since the program began in September 2022. 

“These students have an exceptional amount of intellectual horsepower. Some have been coding since they were 12 or 14. They must have high grades and a strong portfolio to be admitted into the program,” said Burton. 


Burton works closely with Gleeson, who handles the program’s logistics. 

Tech giants such as Stripe and AWS are just a few of the companies participating in the program along with Transact. The idea for the program came from John Collison, co-founder and President of Stripe, the payment platform corporation. 

“Participating companies submit proposals on how they will include students in their development and product teams as part of their residencies. Only proposals that align with course outcomes for the semester are selected for review by students, so there’s an element of competition from a company perspective. Students view the company proposals and rank their favorites. Each company interviews two students and then one is selected to assist with a company project. It’s a paid residency,” said Burton. 

When students are placed at Transact’s Limerick office, they will be put on project teams. 

“We’ll immerse them in a software engineering team on a product. They’ll have mentors to work with and shadow,” he said. 

Burton, along with representatives at other tech companies, met the students at a workshop this past fall. 

“In week two of the ISE program, they showed us storyboards of the projects they’ve been working on. I was quite impressed with the students—they are highly competitive and want to be the best,” said Burton. 

The passion for innovation flows freely between students and instructors in the program. 

“ISE faculty are research-active, meaning they bring new ideas and cutting-edge techniques into the classroom,” said Mark Langtry, a student in the program. 

Eventually, more students will join the program. 

“The aim is to create a pipeline of high-quality candidates. I expect the program to be an incubator of software industry innovators.” 

“We’re trying to change how computer science is taught. The world does not produce enough software engineers, especially with the combination of strong foundations, in-company learning and exposure to research,” said ISE co-director, Professor Tiziana Margaria, who is also Chair of Software Systems at UL’s Department of Computer Science and Information Systems. 

“Demand from companies to participate was extremely high. Each one of the five residencies in companies has a syllabus, learning objectives and the companies provide full project descriptions. Students will be fully graded on their residencies,” said Margaria. 

“Our course has some amazing features. The paid residencies allow us to ‘learn by doing’ at some of the best companies in the world,” said student Amy McMahon. 

 “We collaborate with many Industrial Development Agency (IDA) companies in Ireland and with Enterprise Ireland. We are cooperating with many of the major players in diverse fields of IT and its applications,” she said. 

Stephen Kinsella, co-director of the ISE program, is an Associate Professor of Economics at UL’s Kemmy Business School. He’s also an Irish economist, newspaper columnist, and author. 

“The students are very ambitious and hard-working. Each one is at the top of their class—they're truly the cream of the crop. They’re able to do what looks like magic to muggles like myself,” said Kinsella. 

“They have no final exams and work full-time here in a studio environment. Most learning is hands-on. We treat them like young employees in training,” said Margaria. 

“Their career starts now. Every meeting is treated like a work meeting, and they come prepared,” said Barry Floyd, Professor of Information Systems Management, California Polytechnic University, USA, and ISE Scientific Advisory Committee member. 

Transact, a member of the Industry Advisory Board and advisor on overall course structure, donated a €10,000 scholarship for qualified female students admitted to the ISE program. 

“John Gleeson from Transact was really important for us in championing the course and in providing the scholarship,” said Margaria. 

“Tech has gone from being nerdy to something cool. The younger generation are a lot more tuned in to technology,” said Burton. 

To learn more about the ISE program, click here.