VSJ – December 2007 – Work in Progress

Robin Jones describes the philosophy behind the new IAP Student Software Development Prize.
Over the last three decades, the Institution has been involved with a number of higher education bodies, both in the public and private sectors. It currently has formal partnership agreements with several UK universities.
We have been consistently impressed by the quality of the project work carried out by students at these universities. However, that’s not the impression a review of the comment pages of the technical press gives you. As a professional body, we are naturally concerned to develop and sustain understanding between education and industry. So the IAP Council has decided to establish an IAP Software Development Project Prize to be offered annually in participating departments in UK universities.
The prize is open to students (who must be eligible for IAP membership) on Honours Degree, Foundation Degree and Higher National Diploma courses that have software development as a major component. It may be offered to individuals or groups as appropriate.
A winning software solution will:

  1. Have clearly demonstrated its usability in its target environment
  2. Provide exceptionally clear online help
  3. Have demonstrated its stability
  4. Be systematically documented
  5. Show a clear and effective test schedule
  6. Provide a novel solution
  7. In the case of a group project, demonstrate excellent teamwork

Only one prize will be available per course per year.
The value of the prize will be:

  • £100 (individual) or £40 per group member
  • Free registration as an IAP member (value: £30) per individual or group member
  • Free first year subscription as an IAP member per individual or group member

We want to make this scheme as widely available as possible but managing the entire assessment process centrally would be prohibitively expensive. And that’s where you come in. For each participating university or college, there will be a Fellow of the Institution who will act as Local Assessor. For instance, the Local Assessor at Plymouth, the inaugural university  referred to in ‘Members’ News’, is Alastair Revell, Bsc (Hons) FIAP MBCS CITP of Revell Research Systems in Exeter. Incidentally, we’d like to thank Alastair for all the work he has done in helping us develop the scheme and in working with Plymouth thus far.
The operative word above is ‘local’. Since the assessor’s function is to liaise with the university department in choosing the project to be submitted to the IAP Council for ratification, it’s important that they don’t incur significant travelling time. If we match Fellows with universities carefully, we don’t anticipate that the task will be especially onerous and we will, of course, do whatever we can to support Fellows undertaking it. Given that, by definition, we have almost no experience of the scheme yet, it will be important to create a mechanism by which participating Fellows can easily share their knowledge – with us and each other – as it develops.
So if you’d like to get involved in improving industry-university links, contact me (eo@iap.org.uk) in the first instance, indicating which university you’d like to work with. If you already have a contact there, let me have their details so that I can send them information about the scheme. If not, that’s OK. We may well already have one.
If you were expecting part 2 of John Ellis’ futurological essay in this space, sorry but there wasn’t room for it this month. So it’s been held over until February’s edition.
[Interesting project or development? Let us know at eo@iap.org.uk!]

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