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"Support from TUBITAK for "Model-Based Software Development

Working on ”Model-based software development", Assoc. Prof.  Prof. Dr. Mert Ozkaya received support from TUBITAK with project proposals that addressed two important issues in this area. The work of Assoc. Prof. Prof. Dr. Özkaya work is aimed at developing software systems in a shorter time and in a high-quality, reliable way. Therefore it also aims for them to be adaptable for different situations.

“I am in Yeditepe because it supports the researchers and research.”

Associate Professor of Computer Engineering Department of Yeditepe University, Prof. Dr. Mert Ozkaya, when he was still in high school, dreamed of developing technologies that would make people's lives easier. After completing his university education in Turkey, he turned his direction to England. He completed his master's degree at the University of Essex as the valedictorian, which gave him the opportunity to do his doctorate on a scholarship at City University London.

Working at Yeditepe University since 2018, Associate Prof. Prof. Dr. Mert Ozkaya constantly scanned the literature in the field of software architecture, observed the industry. He took against the problems he saw in these areas as a personal battle and received support for two projects from TÜBITAK with the solution proposals he developed for them.

Explaining his reasoning regarding the continuation of his academic career at Yeditepe University “When it comes to the the perspective of the researcher and the research scientists, academic staff, the university campus and the University's academics and its industral collaborations are important factors in my choice", said Associate Prof. Prof. Dr. Mert Özkaya.

What would you say to us if we were to ask who Mert Özkaya is?

Well, Igraduated from Bilkent University, Department of Computer Engineering in 2009. While studying in Bilkent, I received a scholarship from the University of Essex in the UK, where I went with the Erasmus student exchange program, and I conducted my master's studies in software engineering in Essex in 2009-2010. I had just found out that I have completed my master's degree in software engineering at Essex as a valedictorian and therefore I would be rewarded for this success. With this motivation, I started applying for doctoral programs in the UK in 2010. At this time, I was accepted from City University London in London with a full scholarship and support for studying in order to achieve a doctorate in software architecture. The turning point of my career was my graduation from Essex as the valedictorian and my qualification to a doctoral program in software architecture. 

Why did you want to study computer engineering?

My biggest dream when I was in high school was to contribute to the design and development of technologies that could make people's lives easier and to participate in various research and development activities in this direction. At the same time, I was looking for a field where I could feel free, put my creativity at the forefront, and propose original approaches. For these reasons, I decided that computer engineering was the most suitable field for me.

“A Culture that exists for 25 Years”

What was your reason for choosing Yeditepe University for an academic career?

My preference regarding Yeditepe University is related to the fact that the university and the faculty had a culture set in stone. Being able to conduct my research with the opportunities offered by Yeditepe, as a part of this culture, has been the biggest source of motivation for me. Yeditepe's perspective on research and the researcher the academic staff, the university's cooperation with industry and the encouragement of academics in this direction, and the university's tremendously relaxing campus are important factors in my choice.

Yeditepe University; with its students, academicians, belief in science, importance to research development and peaceful campus, has been a cultural phenomenon which existed for 25 years. I wish the continuation of this culture for many more years to come.

“It is Important to Set the Goal Correctly”

Did you have any principles that you thought had an impact on your success?

If the goal exists and the right steps have been determined to achieve the goal, then, all these steps can be accomplished with a lot of work. With the knowledge and experience gained, even if the goal is not achieved, one can place himself in a satisfactory position that is closer to that goal in question. Setting goals correctly is as important as being able to work hard. The next step is to determine how you can achieve this goal and at this point it is about exchanging ideas with knowledgeable, experienced and visionary people. It should be remembered that around many people who have achieved success, there are experienced people who guide them with their ideas. The only thing left is to devote a lot of time and work hard to be able to take the steps set out for the goal.

“I Get My Strength and Energy from My Family”

What feeds you? What are your hobbies?

My biggest sources are problems in literature and industry. I constantly follow the current literature on different sub-fields of software engineering and keep up with new technical and technological developments. In addition, I carry out continuous empirical studies to find out the industry's perspective on various sub-fields of software engineering, the industry's expectations and the challenges it faces. Thus, I aim to be able to learn the problems experienced by the industry and to propose the optimal solution for these problems by using my knowledge of the literature.

My hobbies are mainly based on spending time with my family; traveling together, spending time in nature... My biggest source of motivation is my son and my wife. I get my strength and energy from my family.

Were there any people who inspired you?

My mom and dad became my biggest supporters, they guided me until I finished college. During my academic career, there have been many academicians whom I have taken as an example. Among them is my esteemed teacher, who has inspired me the most, the Head of the Department of Information Technology at the University of Wageningen, Prof. Dr. Bedir Tekinerdoğan. I have always felt very lucky to be able to receive valuable advice from him and for having a chance to observe how he has achieved great success.

Have you encountered any difficulties in your career process?

Difficulties have always existed and they still come into being. I do not think that any path to success is straight and exist without twists and turns. The main thing is to be able to learn from the difficulties without being intimidated.

“Model-Based Software Development" Approaches

You have received support for two projects from TUBITAK. Can you tell us about them?

I can say the following about the first of my projects: Many software developer companies focus on being able to give their customers a working software as soon as it is possible to keep up with the agile software development process when developing web application software. Because of this, important steps of software development, such as analysis and reporting of its requirements, software design and software test plan, are often skipped. In addition, due to the lack of a test plan, it is not possible to make sure that the system is working correctly, and the systems can be driven to the field without detecting and correcting many possible errors. It becomes clear to what extent the developed software will satisfy customers / users only when customers and users meet with the system. In this project, I aimed for the development of a "Model Based Test Platform" which supports the prioritization and the comparison of the test scenarios with ones frequented by user in order to test the web application and one which technically limited users/customers can easily model the user behaviour for web apps.

I can summarize my second project as follows: Software design patterns are the expression of effective solutions to problems that are often encountered in the industry in the form of abstract architectural models. With the help of design patterns, it is aimed that the systems consist of components that are as independent as possible from each other and at the same time have a specific task for each of them. Thus, software systems can be easily understood and analyzed, and the components that make up the system can be used repeatedly in different configurations. In this project, I aimed to develop a “Model-based software development platform” that allows users to model software systems using ready-made design patterns and obtain automated code, as well as support users to define their own design patterns and create models accordingly and obtain automated code.

What has been effective in starting the work related to these projects?

My sources of motivation for my TUBITAK-supported projects are mainly the shortcomings I see in the literature and the problems I observe in the industry. In addition, since I provide consulting services to many different industries, I can observe the problems faced by different industries.

“Time is Used Efficiently While Working From Home”

What changes has the Covid-19 pandemic led to in your field of study?

Due to the pandemic, many software companies encouraged their teams to work from home. The biggest benefit of working from home was that it paved the way for the most efficient use of limited time. Time-wasting elements such as roads, traffic, long coffee/meal breaks were minimized. Thus, everyone was able to concentrate more on their work and fill their time with more productive and creative activities. With working from home, platforms for software developers to carry out important steps of software development, collaborating in a digital environment have become even more important and have become frequently used by companies.

Mert Özkaya

“A Digital Ecosystem Should be Developed for Disasters”

2020 has become almost a year of tests for humanity. Considering the possibility that we will face many tests such as this in the coming years, how do you think humanity should prepare for these tests that it is likely to face?

Infectious diseases, natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and water floods always pose a great risk to the world and our country. In such cases, the systems need to be able to continue working. Even in many countries, various smart systems are being developed to prevent and manage disaster situations.

But disaster management systems are essentially focused on coupling existing different systems and addressing only certain problems. Due to the repetition of disaster situations, their variability and complex structure, existing disaster management systems may not give the desired results. For this reason, the development of a scalable and testable digital ecosystem that can be adapted to different situations, easily expanded, is of great importance for disaster management. Thus, software suitable for the ecosystem to be developed can be designed and developed and included in the disaster management ecosystem or easily removed from the system. Fortunately, the Widespread Disasters Digital Management Alliance, which focuses on this issue in our country and of which I am a member, is a founded with the presidency faculty member of TOBB University of Economics and Technology Prof. Prof. Dr. Mehmet Akşit and continues its work. Detailed information can be retrieved from “"

What are your predictions about the future of your field of study?

The importance of the software field is gradually increasing. Nowadays, all systems now contain software, and thanks to this, many different operations and decisions are automated. At the same time, smart systems are also becoming more important every day, entering every area of our lives -smart traffic lights, smart home systems, smart cities, smart heating systems, smart health systems, smart ports, you name it. The brain of all smart systems is essentially software.

Due to the fact that the software is so important, expectations from the software are also increasing. It is precisely here that software engineering and thus the systematic and disciplined development of software using engineering principles are of great importance.

What does traveling mean to you?

Travel is a must for me. It gives me great pleasure to discover new places and observe different cultures. I've seen many countries. Among them were, Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, the Maldives, Serbia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Greece and Korea. But still, my favorite country is Turkey, and my favorite city is Izmir-Urla, where I was born and raised.

What would you recommend for young people who want to become researchers?

One of the greatest needs of our country and even the world is a staff of scientific researchers who can identify problems in all areas of life and propose original and innovative solutions to solve these problems.

My most important recommendation to everyone who wants to become a researcher will be that they improve themselves on the following three characteristics: 1- Focus, 2- Patience, 3- Ability to work hard. In order to become a researcher, you may first need to focus on a particular topic for a long time and have as much detailed information about that topic as possible. In addition, it may not be possible for you to get the results you want immediately or the results you want on the field you are researching. You may even notice that the method you have been working on for months is wrong. In such situations, you should be patient, not be intimidated and be able to continue to work hard.