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ECS Professor Awarded 'Most Influential Paper'

21 Nov 2008 - 16:02 in Achievement

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Hot on the heels of most influential paper award from ASWEC98 earlier this year, James Noble was awarded another Most Influential Paper award, this time from the ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications - OOPSLA.

The Most Influential OOPSLA Paper Award is presented annually to the author(s) of a paper presented at the OOPSLA held 10 years prior to the award year. The award includes a prize of $1,000 to be split among the authors of the winning paper. The papers are judged by their influence over the past decade.

OOPSLA is the largest and most prestigious conference in the area of Object-Oriented programming languages. It is CORE A+ rated and has consistent low acceptance rate of around 15%.

Prof Noble received the award for his paper "Ownership Types for Flexible Alias Protection", along with co-authors David G. Clarke and John M. Potter. The citation is as follows:

In their 1998 OOPSLA paper, "Ownership Types for Flexible Protection," David Clark, John Potter, and James Noble introduced the notion of "ownership types" to control inter-object aliasing statically, making it easier to reason about the dynamic topology of an object-oriented program. This work is part of the broader trend of trying to handle issues of isolation and modularity while retaining expressiveness.

More details of the award can be found at http://www.sigplan.org/award-oopsla.htm

IET - Supporting Victoria's Engineering Students

19 May 2009 - 10:05 in Achievement

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The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is one of the world's leading professional societies for the engineering and technology community with more than 150,000 members in 127 countries. With offices in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, IET provides a global knowledge network to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promote the positive role of science, engineering and technology in the world. It also provides a forum for specialist groups and makes available to members an extensive range of publications.

The IET Wellington Local Network Committee is an active participant of the IET worldwide community and has developed strong relationships with engineering education providers in the region.

To give recognition and support to students who are studying engineering and technology, IET gives out a number of yearly awards. Recently, Victoria University student Arya Reais-Parsi was presented with an IET Award for Best Second Year Engineering Student 2008. On hand to present the award, and to outline the role of IET, was Brian McGlinchy, who has been an active member of IET for 15 years. As Brian outlined in his presentation to third year engineering students, as well as sponsoring undergraduate students with engineering prizes, IET can provide:

  • Events and technical visits.
  • Networking at local level.
  • International speakers as well as monthly seminars that cover a wide range of topical issues.
  • 4th Year student presentations - a local competition called Present Around The World where the local winner could go to a final in Australia and possibly on to the UK.

If you are interested in knowing more about IET check out their web site: http://www.theiet.org

For Wellington's activities go to: http://www.theiet.org/local/australasia/nz/wellington/index.cfm

Engineering Student awarded $6000 Scholarship

18 Jun 2010 - 11:45 in Achievement

Brendan Vercoelen says his $6000 university scholarship will help him towards his dream job in the robotics industry. Brendan is a honours year student in a Bachelor of Engineering degree majoring in Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering at Victoria University of Wellington.

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Rendered drawing of final walker design
His final year studies include advanced mechatronics, a combination of electronic design, mechanics and software development. From implementing microprocessor control of range finding systems to the design of passive dynamic walking systems to autonomous robot path planning and artificial intelligence techniques for driving racing car simulations the subject provides a core foundation for varied and interesting careers.

Brendan supplements the breadth and depth of his degree with additional activities. He is active in the student body and has served as president of the VUW Engineering Club and as a class representative. Get outside interests include involvement with Scouts New Zealand, including serving as a member of the Scouts National Council.

As part of the lifelong learning and transferable skills at VUW, Brendan has also completed management papers while at university . Future plans include completion of a Masters in Engineering or a separate diploma in business studies.

Brendan was one of 35 scholars who claimed their awards from the Duke of Gloucester at a ceremony in the Wellington Town Hall. The Freemasons Charity is the country's largest privately-funded scholarship programme. In its 32- year history is has given more than $3.5 million to 922 students.

For further details, Dominion Post and Stuff Article see http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/local/hutt-news/3709497/Hutt-GP-robotics-student-granted-Freemasons-scholarships

Shaping Industry to Student Relations Through IPENZ

18 Jun 2010 - 11:49 in Achievement

Brendan Vercoelen is a fourth year Bachelors of Engineering (BE) student studying Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering (ECEN) at Victoria University of Wellington who is shaping industry to student relations through IPENZ. Since the end of 2007 Brendan has worked as the student representative on the Wellington branch committee of IPENZ. IPENZ (The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand) is the body which represents more than 9000 professional engineers, from a range of disciplines. The Wellington Branch has over 1400 Members in Wellington and Wairarapa.

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This branch committee includes industrial leaders from such companies as GHD (an international network of professional and technical consultants employing over 6000 people), Opus Internet (International consultancy for infrastructure, architecture, construction, water, environment, asset development and management solutions.), Beca (an international employee-owned engineering and related consultancy services group), Transpower (owns and maintains the national electricity grid for New Zealand), Fulton-Hogan (a major trans-Tasman civil contracting company) and governmental departments. Brendan cites the excellent networking opportunities as one of the biggest benefits in his role with IPENZ.

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Since the beginning of 2010, Brendan has become the Victoria University of Wellington representative for SENZ (Student Engineers of New Zealand). This is a new initiative by IPENZ to formalise student engagement throughout New Zealand. Together with students from other national universities, such as Auckland and Canterbury, Brendan is helping to facilitate industry to student interactions. This includes being awarded a grant to organise and host the inaugural SENZ event in Wellington.

Recently, Brendan was invited to be a member of the Young Professionals Task Force, which is a year-long project that seeks to smooth the transition between University and professional practice through IPENZ. This led to an invitation by the IPENZ governing board to feedback on its relationship with students. This prestigious task led to Brendan being included in a talk by the chief executive officer of Pertronic Industries Ltd (Advanced Automatic Fire Detection Systems) on how he took the start-up to international success.

The knowledge and experiences gained by Brendan will not only help his career progression, but are being fed back into the Engineering degrees to strengthen all students' interaction with IPENZ and industry.

Power Bass!

29 Jul 2010 - 10:37 in Achievement

Five final year Power Electronics (ECEN405) students ended their trimester with a project loud enough to potentially cause auditory damage. The students, supervised by Robin Dykstra, designed, developed and produced fully working sub-woofer Class D amplifiers.

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From left: Dr Robin Dykstra, Matthew Bourne, Abigail Arulandu, Arya Reais-Parsi, Brendan Vercoelen, Dayna Kivell

Each design was different; some allowing input directly from an MP3 player and others included multiple audio outputs. The project not only put the skills learned from the Power Electronic course into practice, but also allowed them to have full creative and design control, while still keeping to a tight budget. Given this was a difficult project, each of the students did well to achieve a working solution (even after dozens of blown components). So if you are walking through the Alan MacDairmid building on level 2, and hear a not-so-subtle doof-doof noise, it is likely to be originating from the Engineering Honours Lab, who can now claim to have the loudest lab on campus.


Provisional Accreditation for the BE

14 Sep 2010 - 00:42 in Achievement

We are delighted that the professional nature of our Bachelor of Engineering degree has been recognised by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand.

The accreditation process is thorough, lengthy and worthwhile as it assists in ensuring the quality of degrees for both students and industry. Provisionally accreditation has been granted for the degree of Bachelor of Engineering at Victoria University of Wellington, in all of our specialisations: Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering, Network Engineering, Software Engineering.

By necessity, full accreditation will occur when our first graduates have spent time in industry verifying the effectiveness of our courses. It is noted that leading industry, such as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, are confident in the quality of our degrees by making job offers to our students even prior to graduation.

A major step in the accreditation process was the visit that took place 14-16 July 2010 with the visit of a panel appointed by IPENZ.

Highlights of the recommendation report are given below:

The development of an engineering programme at VUW had been considered at different times in the University's history so, when the decision was finally made to develop a Bachelor of Engineering in 2005, it was seen as an evolutionary rather than revolutionary step. The existing Bachelor of Information Technology, which was to be replaced by the BE, was considered to have a strongly applied focus. All the same, the decision was supported by a significant programme of staff recruitment and capital expenditure, consistent with the University's objective of developing an internationally recognised engineering programme.

The panel also wished to recognise the following strengths of the programme.
  • Part III of the degree structure provides excellent potential for producing broader graduate skills. (Part III of the degree is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop wider contextual understanding by allowing them to select three coherent courses that are outside the student's specialisation from across the University.)
  • The strength of the team- and project-based experience gained by the students
  • The collegiality and enthusiasm for engineering demonstrated by staff
  • The strength of the staffs' research and industry interaction and the richness this brings to the teaching program
  • The strength and commitment of the institutional support for engineering from VUW
  • The quality and quantity of infrastructure, personnel, technical and other resources provided to engineering by VUW

The Accreditation Panel set the following requirements to be met by Victoria:
  • Nil.

Coverage of the IPENZ graduate profile
The panel was satisfied that the VUW outcomes were substantially equivalent to the generic IPENZ Graduate Competence Profile for Professional Engineers; that by deriving them from VUW's overarching outcomes they were linked to VUW as a specific provider; and that they incorporated feedback from VUW's industry advisory panel and programme advisory panel.

We are continually listening to constructive comment from students, industry/business and professional bodies to adapt, improve and keep our courses/degrees at the forefront of professional engineering education in New Zealand and internationally.

ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award

13 Oct 2010 - 10:40 in Achievement

Associate Professor Thomas Kühne recently received a Distinguished Paper Award at the ACM SIGSOFT Conference. His paper “An Observer-Based Notion of Model Inheritance”, discusses specialisation relationships between models, languages and transformations respectively, and introduces the idea of an observer and a context for the purpose of defining and validating specialisation relationships.

“Return on investment” is an increasingly important consideration in model-based engineering, and it is more cost-effective to create a new model from an existing one rather than create it from scratch. It therefore makes sense to make maximum use of the relationships between models. Organising models in a network of relationships enhances model retrieval, investigation of model compatibility, and megamodeling of big systems.

First, the paper discusses model compatibility. It then examines various definitions of model inheritance, promoting model substitutability as a valuable property to strive for. Finally, the notion of a model observer and a model context is discussed as a way of investigating the scope for model compatibility.

It is intended that the ideas introduced in the paper will form the foundation of a systematic basis for organising models.

The full paper can be read at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/u3187t66l7275805/

Mansoor Shafi awarded the IEEE DonaldG. Fink Prize Paper Award

24 Nov 2010 - 13:17 in Achievement

Mansoor Shafi, adjunct professor at the School of Engineering and Computer Science, has been named co-recipient of the 2011 IEEE Donald G. Fink Prize Paper Award.

The IEEE Donald G. Fink Prize Paper Award was established by the IEEE Board of Directors in 1979. It is presented for the most outstanding survey, review, or tutorial paper published in the IEEE Transactions, Journals, Magazines, or in the Proceedings of the IEEE between 1 January and 31 December of the preceding year. The award is named in honor of Donald G. Fink, distinguished editor and author, who was a Past President of IRE, and the first General Manager and Executive Director of the IEEE.

This year, along with Andreas F. Molisch and Larry J. Greenstein, Mansoor Shafi has been presented the award for the paper entitled: "Propagation issues for Cognitive Radio," Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 97, No. 5, May 2009.

2010 Prime Minister's Science Prize

29 Nov 2010 - 11:40 in Achievement

A team at Victoria University has been awarded the 2010 Prime Minister's Science Prize, worth half a million dollars.

Research from the Magnetic Resonance Innovation Team has been used in medical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and in climate change research in Antarctica, and the team is looking to apply its research in agriculture and industry.

The team, led by Professor Sir Paul Callaghan, consists of: Professor Callaghan; Dr Robin Dykstra, Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria; Dr Mark Hunter, Research Fellow in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Victoria; Dr Andrew Coy, a physicist and Chief Executive Officer of technology company Magritek; and Dr Craig Eccles, a physicist and Chief Technology Officer at Magritek.

The Prime Minister's Science Prize is awarded for a transformative science discovery or achievement which has had an impact in New Zealand or internationally. Of the $500,000 prize money, $400,000 is for furthering the team's research.

The prize was presented by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, on Friday 26 November, in Auckland.

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Ben Haughey awarded best student (novice) prize at ENZCon 2010

01 Dec 2010 - 10:54 in Achievement

Ben Haughey was recently awarded best student (novice) presentation prize at the Electronics New Zealand Conference (ENZCon) 2010 for his paper titled Simulation and Optimisation of a 2-DOF Parallel Planar.

The Electronics New Zealand Conference is an annual meeting to facilitate the exchange of ideas among researches, teachers, workers, students, suppliers and others with an interest in electronics and associated scientific and technical subjects. It is a student friendly conference, inviting paper submissions from students can present their research and meet other students and staff in an interactive relaxed environment.

Ben is presently a Master of Engineering student who is researching Robotic Manipulator Optimisation for his ME project.

Best Paper Award - Australasian Information Security Conference

28 Jan 2011 - 14:19 in Achievement

PhD Student Ben Palmer received $AUD 500 as prize money for winning "Best Student Paper and Best Paper" at this year's Australasian Information Security Conference (AISC). The winning paper's title is "Development and Evaluation of a Secure, Privacy Preserving Combinatorial Auction" and was co-written with his supervisors Dr Kris Bubendorfer and Dr Ian Welch.

Australasian Information Security Conference (AISC) is part of the 2011 Australasian Computer Science Week (ACSW) and is a conference attracting both submissions from Australasia and wider afield. This year, ACSW was hosted by the Department of Computing at Curtin University from January 19-during January 2011 in Perth.

The paper introduces a new algorithm for constructing combinatorial auction circuits that can calculate the results of combinatorial auctions using any garbled circuit auction protocol. This is the first example of a combinatorial auction circuit that extends the privacy preserving protocols previously applied to single good electronic auctions to combinatorial auctions. That is, only the winning bid is revealed, while the value of losing bids is kept secret.

A combinatorial auction allows bidders to express interest in a collection of goods of their own choice, and to make bids conditional upon acquiring the complete set. For example, in a real estate auction, if three adjacent lots are for sale, a developer can make their bid conditional upon obtaining two adjacent lots. The advantage of combinatorial auctions over single good electronic auctions like those used on E-Bay and Trade Me, is that they enable bidders to express these dependencies between goods, and facilitate optimal allocation of goods to bidders. Furthermore, the use of privacy preserving protocols reduces the need to trust that your auction provider will not sell information about failed bids that could be used by competitors in future auctions to gain an unfair advantage.

Victoria University Lecturer Elected Co-Chair of APNIC Policy Special Interest Group

09 Mar 2011 - 11:22 in Achievement

At the recent APNIC conference, Victoria University Lecturer, Andy Linton, was elected Co-Chair of the APNIC Policy Special Interest Group (SIG). With the imminent exhaustion of IPv4 addresses and the adoption of the replacement IPv6, Andy will play an active role in ensuring sound policy is in place.

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Whilst the Internet is renowned for being a worldwide network free from central coordination, there is a technical need for some key parts of the Internet to be globally coordinated - and this coordination role is undertaken by IANA (the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). Specifically, IANA allocates and maintains unique codes and numbering systems that are used in the technical standards ("protocols") that drive the Internet.

APNIC, an open, membership-based, not-for-profit organization, is one of five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) charged with ensuring the fair distribution and responsible management of IP addresses and related resources. These resources are required for the stable and reliable operation of the global Internet. APNIC is also actively involved in the development of Internet infrastructure throughout the region. This includes providing training and education services, supporting technical activities such as root server deployments, and collaborating with other regional and international organizations.

IP addresses and AS numbers are shared resources, available for use by anyone who needs them. APNIC policies ensure that these resources are distributed fairly and consistently across the whole Asia Pacific region. The Policy SIG's role is to develop policies and procedures which relate to the management and use of Internet address resources by APNIC, NIRs, and ISPs within the Asia Pacific region.

See further information at: http://www.apnic.net/about-APNIC

Summer Gold Scholars Poster Competition

11 Apr 2011 - 10:48 in Achievement

Henry Williams has won a $500 prize in Victoria University’s Summer Gold Scholars Poster Competition, for his poster titled “Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping: SLAM.”

Henry’s work over the summer involved researching the problems robots

have navigating unknown environments, and seeking ways to improve their performance, using a technique called SLAM.

SLAM enables autonomous robots to construct a map within an unknown environment while simultaneously tracking their current position. It uses an Extended Kalman Filter to reduce the inherent noise in the system, and combine the odometer and range data in order to determine the robot’s most likely location.

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Henry’s research found that SLAM improved the performance of e-puck robots (palm-size autonomous robots) in the localisation and mapping of an unknown maze, enabling each robot to keep itself localised within 0.05cm of its true location.

This increased precision and accuracy in mapping and localisation has important potential benefits; for example, the development of robots that can successfully navigate unknown environments such as spaces in collapsed buildings.

First Cohort of BE Students to Graduate

13 May 2011 - 12:59 in Achievement

The Faculty of Engineering congratulates the inaugural group of Bachelor of Engineering graduates. Of the graduating students, around half are currently working in the industry and the other half has gone on to further study.

Victoria began teaching the four-year Bachelor of Engineering degree in 2007, building on the University’s existing expertise from teaching the Bachelor of Information Technology and Bachelor of Science and Technology degrees.

The Engineering programme focuses on the digital technology that drives the modern world, from electronics to communications to software.

“The Bachelor of Engineering at Victoria has gone from strength to strength and last year received a very positive report from IPENZ (the Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand), which provided provisional accreditation for the degree.”

Wellington Team Comes 2nd in NZ at the ACM South Pacific Regional Contest

13 Sep 2011 - 09:11 in Achievement

On Saturday, 10th of September, 2011, ECS hosted the "Lower North Island" site for the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest's South Pacific Regionals. The top team from Australia and the top team from New Zealand get to represent the region at the World Finals to be held in Poland in May 2012. The winner of the Lower North Island (Wellington) site - DJ Tomato - came close second behind the New Zealand winning team from Christchurch: they both solved the same number of problems but the Christchurch team did it a little bit faster to take the honors. DJ Tomato consists of ECS PhD student, Roma Klapaukh, GradDipSci in Physics student Joshua Baker, and ECS 2nd year student Fergus Whyte.

The First Place Team
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The other 5 teams competing at ECS were from Massey (Max Dietrich, Faharn Wali, and Fergus, coached by Professor Jens Dietrich) and Wellington: Samuel Hindmarsh, Gordon Chan, and David Wang (coming 2nd locally), Simon Welsh, Liam Cervante, and Ben Lawn (coming 3rd locally), as well as Dominik Schmid, Luke Bravenboer, and Luke March and our 1st year team of Peter Riley, Alex Salenko, and Andrew Davies.

All Contestants
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The competition went smoothly and was held at the ECS Networking Lab (CO246). The other sites included: Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne, Auckland, and Christchurch and were running in parallel. The teams prepared for the regional event by participating in the 6 rounds of ANZAC League (http://ecs.victoria.ac.nz/Main/ProgrammingContests) which paid off significantly with DJ Tomato coming very close to grabbing the NZ title.

The event's main sponsor is IBM (http://www.ibm.com/nz/en/) and the contest was attended by Ralph Fox, Sundar Venkataraman, Mehrdad Fatemi, Marina Chibisova, Ryan Leighs and Jonathan Wierenga who presented the prizes at the end. Mehrdad, one of IBM NZ hiring managers, commented in particular on the value for the job applicants of having ACM programming contest experience on their CV.

Any students interested in taking part in the 2012 season need to contact Alex Potanin.

New Zealand Wins Engineering Contest At Solar Decathlon

05 Oct 2011 - 14:28 in Achievement

We congratulate the Faculty of Architecture and Design for their third place success in the Solar Decathlon competition and are glad that we could contribute to their triumph in the Engineering category.

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"Compliments to Abby for her successful input to the VUW First Light team" Prof John Hine, Dean, Faculty of Engineering

Engineering from Victoria University of Wellington was judged top in the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition.

The Solar Decathlon event is a showcase of the best practical sustainable living environments. 10 events ranging from Architecture to Engineering and even mod-con Appliances are used to measure the state-of-the-art from universities across the globe. In the Engineering category, the team from VUW was ranked first out of the 20 competitors! An impressive achievement considering VUW was the first team ever from the Southern Hemisphere.

"The New Zealand house was beautifully executed, with extreme attention to detail and craftsmanship and an intuitive tree-ring visualization system, which makes it easy to understand energy use throughout the house", said Engineering Contest juror Dr. Hunter Fanney, chief of the building energy and environment division of the engineering laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Abigail Arulandu graduated from our Bachelors of Engineering in Electronics and Computer Science (ECEN) last year and is now continuing her passion for human assistive technology with a Masters project at VUW Engineering. Over the summer, and beyond, she played an integral role in the engineering of the First Light house. "In this fast paced project the creative and problem solving skills learned in my engineering degree were vital. Also the ability to pick up new concepts quickly, such as programming in Ruby on Rails, and communicate with the diverse contributors to the house were transferable skills gained in the degree" says a very positive Abby regarding her time with the project.

Potential students interested in gaining the latest digital engineering skills that can be applied from leading sustainable technology to assistive robotics, then please see our information pages.

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See Solar Decathlon, Tring and First Light House for more information


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Victoria ECS Students Triumph in IET Competition

14 Oct 2011 - 12:22 in Achievement

Three post-graduate students from the School of Engineering and Computer Science achieved success in the Wellington Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Present around the World Competition on the 9th October. The competition was held at Beca's premises on Molesworth Street.

Abigail Arulandu was placed first, Dayna-Maree Kivell third, while Juan Rada-Vilella was fourth. Abigail will go on to compete in the national competition later this year, in which the winner will then compete in the Asia-Pacific Regional Finals with a chance to win £1,000.

Abigail's topic was magneto-rheological compliant actuator for stroke rehabilitation, Dayna's topic was ZnO films for ultrasonic transducers, and Juan gave a presentation on swarm intelligence for swarm robotics.

The Present around the World Competitions give engineering and technology students and young professionals an opportunity to share knowledge, and practice their presentation and networking skills by giving a ten minute technical presentation on the engineering or technology subject of their choice, followed by a five minute question and answer session.

100% of First BE Cohort in Graduate-level Employment

14 Oct 2011 - 13:49 in Achievement

All of our cohort of graduating Bachelors of Engineering students have gone on to find graduate level employment. This illustrates both the need for digitally focused engineers from our specialisations (Software Engineering, Network Engineering, Electronics and Computer Systems Engineering) and their quality.

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Big-name companies, such as Google (Australia), GNS, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Aviat Networks, have all employed our graduates. Small (agile) companies and start-ups, such as Code to Customer, have also recognised the talents and transferable skills gained through four years of dedicated study. The breadth of jobs available to our graduates is amazing, e.g. working for the Ministry of Justice for their software and networking needs. The high technology and state-of-the-art nature of the jobs is illustrated by one of our graduates who has joined FNZ who are interested in 'enterprise cloud computing and services company in the wealth management sector'.

It is also really pleasing to note that five of our students have stayed on to indulge their passion for learning in Masters degrees. This has included attracting lucrative scholarships from companies (Im-able Ltd), government (TechNZ scheme) and the University.

With greater emphasis being placed on Graduate employment levels by government it is excellent to see the continued contact that our graduates have with the School and the Careers service who are available to assist both students and graduates in finding their perfect job.

Finally, if you are a prospective student wanting an awesome job after an awesome time at University, feel free to explore our site.

Or if you are employer searching for top level graduates, then please contact our careers service who can also provide details of our in-demand careers fairs.

ECS Postgraduate Student Wins VUW 3 Minute Thesis Competition

22 Jun 2012 - 10:34 in Achievement

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Abigail Rajendran, a Masters student in Engineering has won the Victoria University 3 Minute Thesis Competition. Abigail gave a speech based on her research project, titled 'Magneto-Rheological Compliant Actuator for Stroke Rehabilitation'. Her project involves using magneto-rheological fluid to design and build a compliant actuator that could be used to rehabilitate the hand of a person who has had a stroke. The device first repetitively exercises a person's hand in order to help them re-learn the muscle sensation and therefore regain control of their hand movements, and then creates resistance against the user’s movements, allowing them to build up muscle strength.

The 3 minute thesis concept originates from the University of Queensland, where the first competition was hosted in 2008. From there, the idea spread to other Australian and New Zealand universities, and the inaugural Australasian-level competition was held in 2010. The purpose of the competition is to give postgraduate students the opportunity to develop their academic and research communication skills by delivering a speech on their thesis topic that is aimed at an educated but non-specialist audience. Speakers are judged according to audience comprehension, audience engagement, and communication style.

As the winner of the VUW final, Abigail won $3,000 and gained the opportunity to attend the Australasian final at the University of Queensland in October. We wish Abigail the best of luck at the final in Australia and congratulate her on such a deserving project!

Faculty of Engineering gains full industry accreditation

06 Sep 2012 - 11:58 in Achievement

As New Zealand looks increasingly towards science and engineering to drive business innovation, Victoria University‘s Faculty of Engineering has made an important step forward for students in the field.

Victoria University's four-year Bachelor of Engineering (BE) programme has achieved full accreditation from the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ). The promotion from provisional to full accreditation marks the next stage in the development of Victoria‘s engineering programme, which launched in 2007.

Professor John Hine, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering says that Victoria's BE programme intentionally focuses on modern forms of engineering, specialisations that can respond to today's and tomorrow's needs. "We teach courses on the digital technology that drives the modern world, from electronics to software, and where there is a high demand for graduates in New Zealand." "I am delighted that the quality of our BE programme has been recognised with full accreditation from IPENZ, and that the Faculty received such positive comments"

The Faculty of Engineering has close links with leading technology firms in the Wellington region, and full accreditation recognises that Victoria's engineering programme is producing quality graduates to enter the industry.

"Students can be confident that completing their engineering degree at Victoria will provide them with an internationally recognised qualification, and will stand them in excellent stead on their paths to exciting careers as professional engineers,"says Professor Hine.

IPENZ commended several aspects of Victoria's engineering programme including its facilities and laboratories, the accessibility of staff, the level of pastoral care provided to students, and the confidence and positivity of graduates with respect to the programme.

The accreditation process involved a visit by a panel of engineers who spent several days looking at all aspects of the programme, talking to staff, students, graduates and employers and inspecting facilities.

Staff members in Victoria‘s Faculty of Engineering are recognised as having strong research credentials and links to industry, as well as having an excellent rapport with their students. The programme is taught in an environment with around 100 research and academic staff, PhD and Masters students, with world-leading research driving teaching and providing opportunities for undergraduate students to advance their interests.

The Faculty of Engineering is equipped with state of the art equipment, and new undergraduate project laboratories, situated in both the recently-opened Alan MacDiarmid Building and the newly-renovated Cotton Building.

About IPENZ accreditation

IPENZ, the professional body which represents professional engineers from all disciplines in New Zealand, manages the accreditation of all New Zealand professional engineering programmes. Full accreditation means that Victoria University‘s BE programme is taught to the standards set out in the Washington Accord, and that Victoria now stands equal with other professional New Zealand engineering programmes in terms of international recognition.

IPENZ accreditation provides graduates with international recognition through the Washington Accord. Other jurisdictions currently covered by the Accord are Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong China, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, the USA and the UK.

To learn more about IPENZ accreditation visit http://www.ipenz.org.nz

Rod Downey joins inaugural class of Fellows of the AMS

25 Sep 2012 - 10:38 in Achievement

Congratulations to Professor Rod Downey FRSNZ from Victoria‘s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research, who has been selected to join the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, in honour of his distinguished contribution to mathematics. He will be officially inducted at the world‘s largest mathematics meeting, the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meetings, in San Diego in January.

Engineering Student Builds Device to Help Stroke Patients

02 Oct 2012 - 16:19 in Achievement

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Abigail Arulandu didn't plan to study engineering at Victoria University but the opportunities it has brought her confirm she made an excellent choice.

After being roped into a speech competition for young engineers at Victoria, Abigail went on to win the Asia-Pacific final of the prestigious Institution of Engineering Technology event and is gearing up for the world finals in London.

The Engineering Masters student will also soon be representing Victoria at the Australasian final of the Three Minute Thesis speech competition.

In addition, Abigail has accepted a job as a product development graduate for medical device company Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and will start work for them next year after completing her Masters degree.

At secondary school, Abigail was interested in Criminology and planned to study it - until she attended an open day at Victoria and saw student-designed search and rescue robots in action.

"Seeing some of the amazing things being designed by engineering students inspired me to change my mind," says Abby.

When she started at Victoria, Abby had limited experience of computers and no knowledge of programming or electronics. It made her first year of study quite challenging but also exciting, and by her second year she knew she had found her niche.

Abby's research has been in the area of stroke rehabilitation technology. She designed and built a tool for rehabilitating the hands of people who have had a stroke. The device repetitively exercises a person's hand in order to help them re-learn muscle sensation and regain control of their hand movements and then creates resistance against the user's movements, allowing them to build up muscle strength.

Abby says working in the medical field is important to her because she wants to make a difference and help improve people's quality of life.

Success for Abby has come through determination, hard work and motivation.

"If I can do it, anyone can. If you put in the hard yards you start reaping the benefits-nothing comes easy in life."

ECS Masters Student Finalist in Wellingtonian of the Year Awards

16 Oct 2012 - 11:02 in Achievement

Masters student Abigail Arulandu has been named as a finalist in the youth category of the Wellingtonian of the Year Awards. For her Master of Engineering project, Abigail designed and built a device to assist with the rehabilitation of stroke patients by helping then re-gain control and strength in their hand and arm muscles. New Zealand company Im-Able obtained funding from the Ministry of Science and Innovation for Abigail develop a prototype, and is currently working to patent and sell the device.

“The Wellys” are an annual celebration of the extraordinary contribution some Wellingtonians have made to their community, across a number of different sectors. The nine categories in the awards are arts, business, community service, education, environment, government, science and technology, sport, and youth. There are four finalists in the youth category.

The Wellingtonian of the Year Awards Dinner will be held in The Ballroom, Amora Hotel, on Thursday the 22nd of November. The winner of each category will be announced, and then from these winners, the Wellingtonian of the Year award winner will be named. Past winners of the award include Peter Jackson, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, and Father Des Britten.

e-Science Consultant Earns General Staff Award

20 Nov 2012 - 12:32 in Achievement

e-Science consultant Kevin Buckley has been awarded a 2012 General Staff Award for providing technical support to researchers using e-research. Seven researchers across five schools and research centres supported is nomination. Within this group, Kevin was a co-author of two papers, and two of the researchers were recently awarded Marsden grants.

Kevin’s proposed citation commends him for consistently demonstrating “…both technical and inter-personal skills to help researchers to achieve their research goals by supporting their use of high performance computing. This has included both Victoria resources such as the Science Faculty HPC cluster and the ECS grid, and the BlueFern at the University of Canterbury. Kevin has consistently provided the support required by researchers and has clearly demonstrated how e-Research can help to deliver better research faster.”

ECS Professor Receives Splash Award for Most Influential Paper

23 Nov 2012 - 15:51 in Achievement

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Prof James Noble as perceived by a novel image processing algorithm evolved by ECS

At the SPLASH 2012 conference in Tucson Arizona, it was announced that Professor James Noble and Adjunct Professor Robert Biddle has won the award for the Onward! most influential paper from 10 years ago.

The 2002 paper, titled Notes on Postmodern Programming, argues that computer science and software design developed within the framework of Modernism, and uses “a series of snapshots, parodies, and imagined conversations” to challenge many of the values resulting from this.

SPLASH (Systems Programming, Languages and Applications: Software for Humanity) is the ACM conference that encompasses all aspects of software design and delivery. It has been the umbrella for both OOPSLA and Onward! Since 2010.

For more information about SPLASH:

http://splashcon.org/2012/

To read the paper in full:

http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=1052883.1052890

Abigail Rajendran Represents VUW at Trans-Tasman 3 Minute Thesis Competition

07 Dec 2012 - 16:47 in Achievement

Abigail Rajendran - Victoria University 3MT Winner 2012

On 11th October 2012 I was honoured to represent Victoria University at the Trans-Tasman Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition, which was held at the University of Queensland at the Brain Institute. I spoke on my Masters project titled ‘Magneto-rheological compliant actuator for stroke rehabilita- tion’. The day started early with all contestants and supporters arriving at 8am. Contestants were mainly from Australia and New Zealand with a few from Hong Kong and Fiji. We were greeted with a delicious breakfast (including danishes YUM!). A room was allocated to contestants where we were briefed on the rules and how the competition and day would run.

We were broken up into four heats each containing 11 contestants and the two highest scoring in each heat went on to the finals. At the end of each heat certificates were presented to the contestants. Between heats we had a ten minute drink and food break. The contestants not competing in the current heat were allowed to attend the talk, held in a neighbouring lecture theatre, wander around or watch the online stream which was available in our room. Nerves were a little high all round and the quality of the talks was amazing. The topics ranged from law, to science through to the arts.

The judges had it cut out for them as it was extremely hard to fault anyone and it was very evident that everyone had practiced their talk more times than they would want to admit. At the conclusion of the heats the judges commended the quality of the talks and the eight finalist were chosen (sadly I was not one L), before we broke for lunch. Stress levels were reduced among those not in the finals, and students were able to get pointers off each other to overcome similar problems that were faced in their research. After lunch the eight finalists competed again and a new set of judges selected first place - Tim Paris, second place - Lauren Hollier and the audience chose the people’s choice - Tristan Simons, all did an awesome job!

Following the competition a cocktail reception was held where the winners were awarded their trophies and everyone had a chance to socialise (and eat more food!). Overall I had an incredible time, learning how to better my communication skills as well as learning about the vast range of research out there in under three minutes (beats having to read a thesis)! I would highly recommend this competition to anyone even considering it. Give it a go! It is a great experience and you won’t regret it.

What I learnt and advice to future students: firstly I was surprised by how few masters students there were as most the other competitors were PhD students (but don’t let that hold you back if you are a masters student!). Keep it simple! Although your research is probably second nature to you explaining it to a non-specialised audience is a different story. The less work the judges need to do to think and understand your talk the easier their job is (remember they had to listen to over 40 talks in the space of a couple of hours). In saying that, don’t water it done too much, people want to have learned something. Maybe have one strong idea/ point and make it relatable. Practice your talk to friends and family. If they can understand it, then you are on the right track. Explain why your research is important, who and how it will benefit those around you. Make it interesting, jokes work really well. Your audience should be left enlightened but also curious to know more. Enthusiasm is contagious, when you are clearly enthused and excited the audience and judges will be too!

Network Engineering Student wins best paper award

30 Jan 2013 - 15:41 in Achievement

PhD Student Masood Mansoori has been awarded best student paper at the Australasian Information Security Conference (AISC) on how to scan networks in order to allow the automation of this creation of a network of "honeypots". He wrote this paper in conjunction with Hamid Mohammadzadeh from the University of Malaya and Dr Ian Welch from Victoria University.

Honeypots are computers that only exist in order to attract the attention of hackers and observe their activities. Ideally an enterprise should create a network on honeypot computers to hackers. Doing this is manually is a hugely time consuming task and so automated approaches have been suggested ("dynamic honeypots"). What Masood and his colleagues did was to experimentally test which was the best approach was to automatically discover the details of the real computers so that the honeypots would appear the same.

Australasian Information Security Conference (AISC) is part of the 2013 Australasian Computer Science Week (ACSW) and attracts submissions from Australasia and wider afield. This year, ACSW was hosted by the University of South Australia in from January 29 to February 1st in Adelaide.

Best student paper award (AISC)

ECS Students Awarded Academic Prizes

15 Apr 2013 - 12:05 in Achievement

Three ECS students were recently awarded prestigious academic prizes For 2012. The School of ECS congratulates these students for their well deserved success.

Aneta Stevanovic, who graduated with a BSc majoring in computer science in 2012, was awarded the Addison Wesley Prize in Computer Science. Aneta is starting her Masters degree soon, and says the prize will be very useful for purchasing the books she needs.

Renee Kwang, a third year BSc student majoring in computer science and mathematics, was awarded the Addision Wesley prize in computer science (200 level). Renee says being awarded the prize affirms that she made the right choice in giving up her previous job as a tax accountant to study computer science.

Mitchell Lane, a 4th year BE (Hons) student majoring in software engineering, was awarded the IET prize 2012. Mitchell says the prize makes the long hours of hard work he has devoted to his studies all worth while, and encourages him to continue giving 100% to his studies during his final year.

Computer Science at Victoria University Features in the Dominion Post

15 Apr 2013 - 14:44 in Achievement

An article published in the Dominion Post on the 4th April highlights Victoria University's initiatives to demonstrate the how much fun computer science is, and the great careers that are available.

The computer science taught at Victoria University of Wellington covers building 'hybrid engines' rather than 'driving a car' - everything from creating your own programming language to app & game creation, or even how to defeat denial of service attacks (Much more than spreadsheets and word processing!). Please contact us for more information regarding forthcoming events for students and teachers.

( marketing@ECS.VUW.ac.nz)

Dr Stuart Marshall, with collaborators from the University of Canterbury, has recently won a grant from Google for this year's Programming Challenge for Girls, (PC4G) a competition which encourages Year 10 girls to explore computer programming. The local round and national finals were hosted at Victoria in November and December 2012. Please see (http://www.pc4g.org.nz/) for further details.

Best paper Award at NZCSRSC

24 Apr 2013 - 11:03 in Achievement

Congratulations to Syed Saud Naqvi for his Best Paper Award at the New Zealand Computer Science Research Student Conference 2013. This conference brings together the best young researchers in ICT in New Zealand.

Saud's paper investigated models of human eye movement. Humans concentrate only on small parts of an image at a time, termed fixation. Saud developed an existing biologically inspired model of how humans attend to a scene by using artificial intelligence to weight important aspects of the image. His method was compared with alternative artificial approaches and actual recordings of human eye movements, where he showed positive results in being able to predict human eye movement.

The practical applications of Saud's work range from developing fast camera systems for autonomous robots to predicting the best places for road signs to be mounted so that drivers notice them quickly.

Sauds best paper award


The award carries a prize of $1500, which will be spent on assisting Saud with conference travel, was kindly funded by a donation to the conference from Google. This will enable Saud to present his follow up work that has been accepted for publication in the International Congress on Evolutionary Computation (CEC 2013), which is a top rated A international conference, to be held in Cancun, Mexico.

This is an example of Victoria's national and internationally leading research as recognised by the first place ranking in the recent research evaluation exercise. Doctorate scholarships are currently being offered for bright, hard-working and enthusiastic researchers to join the Evolutionary Computation Research Group and other world-class researchers.


NZCSRSC 2013 was the 10th conference in the series which started in 1992 and has now become a regular event in New Zealand.

The aim of the New Zealand Computer Science Research Student Conference is to establish and reinforce a nationwide community of ICT graduate students. It provides an opportunity for students to establish contacts and share their research with graduates from across New Zealand, and members of the wider community. Students will gain experience in communicating their research and participating in an ICT community by:

  • submitting, presenting and reviewing research papers in a supportive and enthusiastic environment,
  • participating in workshops dedicated to providing practical information for completing a successful graduate programme, and pursuing future careers in academia or industry,
  • participating in a range of special events that get students in touch with like-minded people working in related areas within ICT, and
  • hearing from leading ICT experts in a series of exciting invited keynote presentations
Another goal of the conference is to help support and encourage other students such as minority students, women, and Māori and Pacific Nations students with ICT research.

MiriaGraduation

13 May 2013 - 15:20 in Achievement

Paving the way for female Māori graduates

13 May 2013

Miria Royal doesn’t see herself as a trail blazer for Māori women but, as the first Māori female to be accepted into Vodafone’s Graduate Technology Programme, it’s a concept the Victoria University graduate is getting used to.

Miria, who will be awarded a Bachelor of Engineering tonight, says she feels a responsibility to other Māori women in the engineering and telecommunications field.

“It’s a bit intimidating to be set up as an example, but if I can open the door for other Māori women to come into this career then that would be fantastic.”

Miria Royal

Miria, who is one of 10 in the Vodafone Graduate Technology Programme, started working in Vodafone’s Auckland-based optimisation team in February. “I’m working to maintain, manage and optimise the network to improve the customer experience in terms of coverage, speed and reliability.”

However, she almost missed out on a place in the programme, which has been running since 2008.

“I attended a tech users event, where Vodafone’s Chief Technology Officer, Sandra Pickering, was speaking. I introduced myself and told her I was looking for a job and even though applications for the graduate programme had closed, she told me to send in my CV.”

Four days later, the job was hers. “I was surprised at getting in, because I always thought graduate placements were for A+ students.”

Amy Oding, Leader of the Technology Graduate Programme at Vodafone, says Miria is “a star in the Technology Group”.

“She has displayed a high standard of engagement and her team leaders are confident she will make a success of her career at Vodafone. We are very pleased to have a female Māori graduate of this calibre,” says Amy.

Miria, who was born and raised in Wellington and is of Ngāti Raukawa descent, is following in the footsteps of her engineer father. “I did a two-month internship at 2degrees in Wellington which really cemented my enjoyment of technical engineering and the telco industry. The industry is so fast-paced and varied, it’s exciting to know that there’s always something new around the corner.”

After finishing the two-year graduate programme, Miria hopes to gain overseas experience in her field before returning to New Zealand. “I want to give back and technical engineering is one way I can do that.”

Miria will graduate with a Bachelor of Engineering tonight, Monday 13 May at 6pm. She will also attend Hui Whakapūmau, a celebration for Māori graduands at Te Herenga Waka Marae at Victoria University on Tuesday 14 May at 9am.

The Google Anita Borg Scholarship - 2013

30 May 2013 - 10:42 in Achievement

The Google Anita Borg Scholarship was established in 2004 to honor the legacy of Dr. Anita Borg and her efforts to encourage women to pursue careers in computer science and technology.

Scholarships will be awarded based on the strength of candidates’ academic background and demonstrated leadership. A group of female undergraduate and graduate student finalists will be chosen from the applicant pool. Each scholar recipient will receive a $5,000 AUD scholarship towards the following academic year. In addition all finalists and scholarship recipients will be invited to an expenses-paid networking retreat to be held at Google’s Sydney Engineering centre. Watch highlights from the 2012 Sydney Retreat here.

Who can apply?

Applicants must satisfy all of the following criteria to be eligible:

  • Be a female student enrolled in full-time undergraduate or postgraduate study for the 2013-14 academic year.

  • Be enrolled at a University in any of the following countries: Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and India. Citizens, permanent residents, and international students are eligible to apply.

  • Be studying Computer Science, Software Engineering, or a closely related technical field.

  • Maintain an excellent academic record

Citizens, permanent residents, and international students are eligible to apply. Past applicants and finalists are also encouraged to re-apply. If you have any questions, please email the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Team at anitaborg-apac@google.com, or reply to this email.

Deadline to apply: 31st of May 2013

For further information on this scholarship and how to apply, check out www.google.com/anitaborg/apac

Dr Mansoor Shafi MNZM

03 Jun 2013 - 12:31 in Achievement

Congratulations to Dr Mansoor Shafi for receiving a Queens honours.
MansoorShafi.jpg Dr Mansoor Shafi

Member of New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) For services to wireless communication technologies.

Dr Mansoor Shafi, of Wellington, is Telecom Fellow at Telecom New Zealand and Adjunct Professor, School of Engineering and Computer Science.

His rich industrial experience and knowledge of telecoms informs his teaching on the Advanced Communications Engineering course ( ECEN-410)

This course provides an introduction to the fundamentals of wireless communication systems. The characteristics of fading channels are considered and their effect on the propagation of signals. Countermeasures such as diversity, forward error control and modulation schemes for wireless communications are studied. Multiple-access techniques such as time-, frequency- and code-division multiple access are examined. WLAN, WPAN wireless sensor networks, cellular concepts such as capacity, congestion, interference and multiple access are also presented.

Victoria University of Wellington is ranked number one for research in New Zealand, where our teaching is directly led by our research. Students benefit from top-quality academic and industrial research practices, provided by experts in their field, such as Dr Mansoor Shafi. Staff and students join in congratulating Dr Mansoor Shafi on his well-deserved award.

ECS PhD Student awarded ENZCon Best Presentation Prize for Mechatronic Guitar

12 Sep 2013 - 11:52 in Achievement

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Students and staff of Victoria University of Wellington's School of Engineering and Computer Science recently attended the 20th annual Engineering New Zealand Conference (ENZCon), held at Massey University's Albany campus from the 5th – 6th September. VUW ECS PhD student Jim Murphy was awarded the Best Presentation prize for his talk about Swivel 2, a mechatronic guitar system which he is developing with supervisors Dale Carnegie and Ajay Kapur as part of his thesis work. Swivel 2 is a 6-string slide guitar system capable of the playback of fast melodies, complicated rhythms, and long-duration compositions.

Jim is currently working with composers to create a body of new musical works for the instrument. Swivel 2 will be used not only as a performance instrument but also as a tool for engineering education outreach and as a research system. Swivel 2 will join MechBass (a mechatronic bass guitar designed and built by student James McVay): both will be used as demonstration systems to interest and excite prospective engineering students.

Swivel and MechBass are both part of ongoing work being conducted on new mechatronic musical instruments. Murphy, Carnegie, and Kapur are also building new mechatronic harmoniums, drum systems, and guitar-playing mechanisms. A common goal of these separate projects is to allow for composers to create compositions, realised in physical space, which would be difficult for human performers to play.

Other new work presented by the students included ME student James McVay's report on an in-development low-cost rescue robot, ME student Tony Cimino's talk about a nearly-completed large-scale research and rescue robot, and ME student Greg Hayes' discussion of his portable electrocardiogram research. Also shown was Daniel Burmester's work on the implementation of an alternative energy nanogrid at VUW.

Victoria Engineering students win Australasian robotics competition

25 Sep 2013 - 16:25 in Achievement

Victoria Engineering students win Australasian robotics competition

A team of engineering students from Victoria University of Wellington has taken top honours in the Australasian National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition held in Melbourne this week.

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The Victoria team, ‘Ownbot’, beat 15 other teams from Australian and New Zealand universities with its robot Michelangelo, named after its turtle-like shape. A video of the achievement is gaining attention in the press.

Led by PhD student Henry Williams, the team was made up of undergraduate and postgraduate students from the School of Engineering and Computer Science: Tessa Phillips, Robby Lopez, Alex Campbell, Hamish Colenso, Alice Lawn and Joseph Shadwick.

Henry says he is “well chuffed” that their autonomous creation performed so well.

Dr Will Browne, a senior lecturer in the School who supported the students as they developed Michelangelo, is excited by the win.

“It’s fantastic news. The students have worked incredibly hard on this project over the last few months and to see them win a competition like this is just superb.

“It showcases the depth of talent and skill amongst our students, and also the team’s passion for robotics, since this was an extra-curricular project which complemented their formal studies.”

Dr Browne says things weren’t all plain sailing for the team, with Michelangelo initially consuming too much power and nearly catching fire, but the students overcame the difficulties through excellent teamwork.

To qualify for the competition finals, the team had to achieve four milestones during the year, which tested different aspects of the robot’s capability. The students documented their progress through a blog (http://vuwniarc2013.blogspot.co.nz).

In the grand final this week, the Victoria University team won the ultimate ‘Gold Rush’ themed task, where robots were required to navigate an obstacle-filled course, and identify, pick up and move objects to designated locations in the shortest possible time.

The team has won a cash prize $3,000.

Quicktime Movie of Michelangelo

Computing Research Education Best Paper Award

11 Feb 2014 - 09:48 in Achievement

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PhD Candidate Masood Mansoori's paper "YALIH, Yet Another Low Interaction Honeyclient" was awarded the 2014 Computing Research & Education Best Paper for best graduate paper presented at the annual Australasian Information Security Conference (ACSW-AISC). His supervisors and co-authors are Dr Ian Welch and Dr Qiang Fu from the School of Engineering and Computer Science.

The paper describes an improved method for detecting web sites infected with a drive-by-download exploit. This type of exploit allows a hacker to deliver a computer virus to a victim's computer simply by luring the victim to the web site, for example by embedding the URL in an email sent to the victim. Exisiting methods for detection called low interaction honeyclients suffer from high rates of missed infections (false negatives). Low interaction honeyclients emulate sufficient functionality of a real web browser to allow web site executable content to be retrieved and searched for patterns known to be associated with drive-by-download exploits. Unfortunately, hackers have responded to the development of this technique by creating code obfuscation tools that randomly rewrite expoit code on-the-fly so it doesn't match known signatures.

Masood's main contribution described in this paper is to reduce the missed infection rate by implementing de-obfuscation techniques within a low interaction honeyclient. Code de-obfuscation attempts to transform multiple reordered versions of the same exploit into a single canonical version allowing more reliable matching against known drive-by-download exploit signatures. He has implemented this idea as an opensource tool called YALIH (Yet Another Low Interaction Honeyclient) and shown that YALIH achieves a significantly lower missed infection rate compared to other well-known low interaction honeyclients (Monkey-Spider, HoneyC, SpyBye and Thug).

IET Engineering Student Award

10 Mar 2014 - 16:56 in Achievement

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David Owen, from the IET Council and Wellington Network Committee, presenting the IET 2013 prize to Victoria University student, Thomas Sherson.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is a leading professional body that shares and advances knowledge to promote science, engineering and technology through its more than 150,000 members in 127 countries. It offers a professional home for life for engineers and technicians and is a trusted source of essential engineering intelligence. To recognize and reward excellence, it currently awards NZ$1 Million in prizes, scholarships and medals each year; this includes an annual prize to VUW’s top engineering student.

Andy Linton - Internet Key Holder

11 Mar 2014 - 13:36 in Achievement

Andy Linton, a senior lecturer at Victoria University explains on Radio NZ his job as one of the 14 keyholders helping to keep the internet secure.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2588544/andy-linton-internet-key-holder

Datacom Scholarship

31 Mar 2014 - 09:42 in Achievement

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Simon Ferrari (General Manager, Datacom Systems), Alastair Turrell (Director, Systems and Integration, Datacom Systems), Tony Butler, Tim Stapels

A number of prizes are awarded annually to the top performing undergraduate students in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. These awards are possible through the generosity of organisations in the Wellington region. Since 2006 Datacom Systems has been awarding a $5,000 scholarship to a full-time student intending to undertake 300 level study in Computer Science or Engineering. The award is in excellence and this year the Scholarship went to two students, Tony Butler and Tim Stapels. Alastair Turrell, the Director of Datacom Systems, who presented the scholarship to the students, stated:

The Datacom Scholarship commenced in 2006 and we are as delighted and impressed with the quality of the 2014 graduate group as ever. Many of our staff are former students, and the visionary thought-leaders of our future are certain to come from your graduate pool.

Each year, as we set about assessing the scholarship candidates, we are continually impressed by the abilities, achievements and wisdom-beyond-years that we see. This year was no exception, and in evaluating the 2014 Datacom Computer Science Scholarship applicants, we decided to award two scholarships reflecting both the depth of talent emerging from the final year and the excellence of both scholarship recipients.

The School of Engineering and Computer Science would like to thank Datacom System for its on-going support.

Meet a man who owns a key to a major part of Internet security

04 Apr 2014 - 11:47 in Achievement

There are 14 people worldwide who own keys that protect the security of web domain names. One of those people, engineer Andy Linton, joins James Ball, special projects editor for Guardian US, and Consider This host Antonio Mora to explain how the security system works and how Linton came to be a key holder. To see this item on America Aljazeera please click on the link below:

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/consider-this/2014/4/meet-a-man-who-ownsakeytoamajorpartofinternetsecurity.html

On the fast track

05 May 2014 - 15:48 in Achievement

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Cogo Digital - Marcelo Hudson, Dale Galloway, Hannah Faesenkloet and Joseph Milson

The morning after Hannah Faesenkloet graduates with a Bachelor of Design Innovation, the 21-year-old will be back working in the start-up company she’s founded with three other former Victoria University of Wellington students.

Hannah is the youngest person, and the only woman, to currently be part of Wellington’s Lightning Lab—New Zealand’s first digital accelerator programme to help fledgling companies prove, build and launch their offering.

Hannah’s company, Cogo Digital, has developed a management tool that maps knowledge resources. Called Co-Operly, the system gathers information about employees’ knowledge and roles, helping to reduce the impact when staff members leave and improving efficiency in how knowledge is distributed through an organisation.

The innovative project was created by a team of students—Joseph Milsom, Marcelo Hudson and Dale Galloway—and is a great example of collaboration across disciplines.

Joseph Milson graduated from Victoria with a Bachelor of Music in sonic art in 2013 and will graduate with a Graduate Diploma in Science with a computer science endorsement this year. Marcelo Hudson will graduate with a Bachelor of Music in sonic art this year and Dale Galloway will also graduate this year, with a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration in Marketing and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

But the idea wasn’t what got the team into the Lightning Lab—they started the accelerator programme with a health and fitness app designed to get people off the couch.

“After one terrible day in the first week, we knew it wasn’t going to work,” says Hannah. “We went out for an ice cream and realised you have to be really passionate about something and believe in its potential, to take it through an intense programme like the Lightning Lab.”

After their “ice cream epiphany”, Hannah says the four members of the group spent the weekend forming a new idea.

“My personal motivation was frustration with having to troll through 45 minutes of a video to find the two minutes I wanted or seeing our developers trying to find succinct answers to programming roadblocks.

“It was one of our mentors at the Lightning Lab who pointed out the potential to adapt our idea for the corporate world.”

For more information visit www.cogodigital.co.nz or http://lightninglab.co.nz/

Te Pūnaha Matatini Centre for Complex Systems and Networks

19 May 2014 - 16:46 in Achievement

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Dr Marcus Frean

The Tertiary Education Commission recently announced funding of just under $210 million over six years for six Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs).

Dr Marcus Frean, from the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria University, will contribute as a Principal Investigator to one of the six centres - Te Pūnaha Matatini Centre for Complex Systems and Networks. While hosted by the University of Auckland, the Te Pūnaha Matatini Centre is a collaborative partnership with researchers from the universities of Victoria, Massey and Canterbury and Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.

Te Pūnaha Matatini's research programme brings together New Zealand's leading researchers in physics, economics, mathematics, biology, computer science, operations management, statistics, and social science to study complex systems and networks in the biosphere, the economy, and the marketplace.

Balancing physiotherapy and fun

10 Jun 2014 - 11:56 in Achievement

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A team of Victoria University of Wellington students and graduates have created a balance board that helps people stay motivated and have fun while undergoing physical therapy.

As part of the Viclink Digital Futures / Product Futures summer ‘boot camp’, an interdisciplinary team of engineers, marketers and designers developed Switchboard—a balance board that connects to a smartphone and allows patients to play games.

Numerous studies have shown that balance boards are an effective aid for muscle rehabilitation, which is why their use is often prescribed by physiotherapists. Switchboard addresses what is considered the biggest fault in traditional boards—the user’s lack of motivation to train consistently.

The solution in Switchboard is a suite of games which are custom made for the balance board controller, including snowboarding and flying, which users play while they are exercising.

“The user doesn't have to think about the fact that they are exercising, because they are having fun,” says engineering student and project manager Lukas Stoecklein.

“Additionally, having the balance data in digital form provides physiotherapists with insights about their patient’s progress. We can even change what exercises the games encourage you to do, according to what the physiotherapist or user wants, so people can train more efficiently.”

During the ‘boot camp'—designed to help graduates learn how to bring a product to market—the team met with Steve McHardy, General Manager at the International Rugby Academy, to give a demonstration to rugby players. “The players were keen on the idea and said they would enjoy using the board as part of their training,” says Lukas.

Alongside Lukas was a team of two media designers, one industrial designer, one electrical engineer, and two software computer scientists. The programme was led by Dr Edgar Rodriguez and Kah Chan from the School of Design, Dr Will Browne from the School of Engineering and Computer Science, and Alan Hucks from Creative HQ.

Switchboard has commercial opportunities on the horizon, with support from Viclink, Victoria’s commercialisation company. The team has also formed a start-up company called Swibo to continue work on the project.

Switchboard is currently in the prototype stage, and is being tested by Wellington physiotherapists.

Computer Vision Research Awarded a Best Paper at International Conference

22 Jul 2014 - 11:56 in Achievement

Congratulations to a team of researchers from School of Engineering and Computer Science from being awarded a Best Paper on their computer vision utilising evolutionary computation work.

Muhammad Iqbal, Saud Syed Naqvi, Will Browne, Christopher Hollitt and Mengjie Zhang were awarded one of 11 best papers (out of 544 submissions ~ 2% awarded BP), which is voted on by peer reviewers and audience members at the presentation at GECCO 2014, Vancouver, Canada, July 2014. Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) is one of the most prestigious double-blind peer review conference in Evolutionary Computation. Based on its impact factor, GECCO is 11th in the rankings of 701 international conferences in artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and human-computer interactions.

Their novel contribution is in salient object detection, which is equivalent to identifying the most important object in a photograph. This branch of artificial intelligence is gaining rapid importance due to applications as varied as 'Facebook' image identification to autonomous robotics.

Below is a series of pictures showing the raw image (ASD dataset), then human identified ground truth, followed by two alternative algorithms and the final column showing the state-of-the-art results produced by the developed algorithm.

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This work represents a collaboration between the Evolutionary Computational Research Group and the Vision, Image Computation, and Computer Graphics Group, which enhances the international reputation. Both groups are currently seeking excellent doctorate students to continue this research direction in computer graphics, vision techniques, evolutionary computation and robotics, where University scholarships are available for suitable candidates.

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http://www.sigevo.org/gecco-2014/papers.html

Distinguished Paper Award

09 Aug 2014 - 18:52 in Achievement

Congratulations to Dr Alex Potanin from the School of Engineering and Computer Science who was one of the authors that won a Distinguished Paper Award at the European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming (ECOOP) 2014.

The paper was entitled "Safely Composable Type-Specific Languages" and resulted from the work that Dr Alex Potanin performed while on research and study leave at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA in 2013.

The work describes a novel technique to utilise the expected type of a language expression to select a parser for it, enabling multiple, potentially conflicting domain-specific languages to be combined safely in a single language.

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The authors on the photo left to right are: Benjamin Chung, Cyrus Omar, Jonathan Aldrich, and Alex Potanin - all the other authors are based at Carnegie Mellon University.

Alex belongs to the Software Engineering and Programming Languages research group at the School of Engineering and Computer Science: Alex.Potanin@ecs.vuw.ac.nz

Engineering students win Hackfest with firefighting robot

18 Sep 2014 - 11:27 in Achievement

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Cameron Shuker and Steve Richardson

Victoria University Engineering students, Steve Richardson and Cameron Shuker, took out the top prize in the first Summer of Tech mechatronics Hackfest in Wellington last weekend.

The Hackfest was one of several events in the Summer of Tech internship programme which connects students with local technology companies.

This year Grow Wellington has extended the programme to manufacturing companies looking to incorporate technology into their products.

Thirteen Victoria University students set out to impress potential employers with their robot wizardry skills at last Saturday's Hackfest. The students were given seven hours to complete their work. Their robots had to be able to navigate an area and identify a heat source or fire. Some teams connected their robots to social media so they were able to tweet about their progress.

Steve Richardson says he was delighted to win the event. "It was a close call. All of the teams were given the same components but our robot was the only one that used an LCD display."

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A robot on its mission at the
Summer of Tech Hackfest

The winning team was not disadvantaged by having two members compared to three for the other teams, "Cameron and I have worked together before, so we weren't worreid about giving each other criticism and this helped us."

Summer of Tech is an internship programme which connects students with local technology campanies. This year Grow Wellington has extended the programme to manufacturing companies looking to incorporate technology into their products.

Through the programme, companies obtain student interns for 10 weeks between November and February. Prospective students take part in CV clinics, site visits, hackfests and boot camps throughout the years to prepare them for future employment.

Since it began in 2006, Summer of Tech has facilitated 357 paid internships. The programme is supported by Grow Wellington, Wellington City Council and technology companies.

For further information go to: http://www.summeroftech.co.nz

Victoria team defend title

22 Sep 2014 - 11:33 in Achievement

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A team of Victoria University of Wellington students is heading to Sydney this week to defend the title won by the University in the 2013 at the Australasian National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition (NI ARC) in Melbourne.

A team from Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, led by Robby Lopez, beat 15 other teams from Australian and New Zealand universities to take top honours in the 2013 competition with its autonomous mining robot, Michelangelo.

This year they’re back with a few new team members and, says Robby, the group won’t be resting on its laurels.

“This year the challenge is quite different. With our entry Bolt!, we’re really going for top speed and have made major redesigns to the chassis. We’ve also changed our software.”

Robby and team members Michael Pearson, Alex Campbell, Mayur Panchal, Henry Williams, Ryan Wolstenholme been working on their robot for several months. They have had to achieve five milestones during the year, which tested different aspects of the robot’s capability.

Robby says while having the experience from last year has certainly helped, the team has had a couple of major challenges along the way.

“We wanted to have a really fast robot so we chose very high power motors but they proved to be more difficult to control electronically than we had anticipated. Solving the problems created by the more complex design was a nightmare but after seeing the test results we're happy that we went the extra mile.”

Their hard work has served them well—the team finished all major work on Bolt! with weeks to spare before the final, giving them time to fine tune.

“We're really happy about this as last year we were still working on the robot in the hotel room on the eve of the competition.”

Based on Bolt!’s performance and after checking out their competition on You Tube, the team is cautiously optimistic about its chances of bringing home the NI ARC title again this year.

“We feel like we're in a good position and it would be great to win a second time but from past years’ events it’s impossible to judge what will happen on the day.”

The theme for this year’s competition is agriculture with the robots competing in farming inspired challenges including collecting seeds and depositing them in the planting area and navigating through faming obstacles.

The competition final will be held on Thursday 25 September at Macquarie University.

Idiot-proof computer programming

24 Oct 2014 - 15:34 in Achievement

A computer scientist at Victoria University of Wellington is part of an international team that has designed a way to overcome problems that occur when using multiple programming languages to write webpages.

Dr Alex Potanin, a senior lecturer at Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, has helped design Wyvern, a piece of software that allows many different programming languages to be used at the same time.

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Dr Potanin helped develop Wyvern while on sabbatical in 2013 at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

He and the rest of the research group set out to design a system which makes it possible to use a variety of targeted, domain-specific programming languages—such as HTML or SQL—within a single programme.

“When you programme for the web at the moment you use many different languages—it’s a bit of a mish-mash,” says Dr Potanin.

Wyvern can simplify the process by establishing which language is being used within the programme based on the type of data the programmer is using.

“Currently these different languages are designed without taking into account that the others exist, so you write a programme and you only find out there’s an error when you try to run it and it doesn’t work. We’re bridging this gap by combining this mish-mash into a single underlying language that is easy to use. Our design means on one hand you are writing in a language that is comfortable to you but underneath it translates to the core single language that is checked for errors.”

Dr Potanin says Wyvern also helps avoid major security threats that can arise when using a range of programming languages.

“A code injection is a common security bug which is caused by processing invalid data. In can be exploited by an attacker to inject code, with potentially disastrous results,” he says. “The only way you can avoid it is to manually inspect the code. But Wyvern will not allow you to mix the wrong things—it’s idiot proof.

“Also, because this is a language that’s designed from scratch, we can build security into it from a fundamental level. With other programming languages it’s usually an afterthought and designers try to fit security policies retrospectively.”

The team’s work was recognised at an international conference recently – the research team won a distinguished paper award at the European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming in Sweden for their article ‘Safely Composable Type-Specific Languages’.

CMU is the top-ranked university in the United States for Computer Science, which Dr Potanin says makes for exciting collaboration prospects for Victoria students.

“We’re looking for students here to work on Wyvern—this is a great opportunity to join forces with such an internationally-renowned institution.”

To find out more about Wyvern, go to http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~aldrich/wyvern/

Two senior appointments for Science and Engineering

31 Oct 2014 - 12:08 in Achievement

Two new senior appointments have been announced for the Faculties of Science and Engineering.

Professor Dave Harper will take the role as Dean of Science for the Faculty of Science, and Professor Mengjie Zhang is the new Associate Dean (Research and Innovation) for the Faculty of Engineering.

Professor Mike Wilson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Architecture and Design, says that he looks forward to working with Professor Harper and Professor Zhang in their new roles.

“I consider myself very fortunate to have two individuals of such high calibre supporting me in my role,” he says.

Professor Harper has taught at Victoria University in the School of Psychology for nearly 21 years and although he calls the Easterfield building ‘home’, is looking forward to taking up a new leadership role.

“It’s a time of change and I’m really excited to be part of things moving forward, both as a University and a Faculty,” he says.

Professor Zhang, a Computer Science Professor, has been Deputy Head of School and Chair of the Research Committee for the School of Engineering and Computer Science for the past three years.

The genetic programming specialist says that there are real opportunities to make Engineering at Victoria thrive in New Zealand.

“I’m looking forward to working with others across the Faculty and University to make our Engineering research programs innovative and unique.”

Both roles take effect on Monday 3 November 2014.

Google dream a reality for Victoria student

17 Nov 2014 - 13:02 in Achievement

Victoria University of Wellington student Valerie Chan will learn from the top tech minds this summer as she interns at Google's Sydney headquarters.

After a long and rigorous application process Valerie, who has just completed her first-year at Victoria studying computer science and mathematics, was selected for the Google STEP (Summer Trainee Engineering Programme) which runs from 24 November to 13 February.

Google encouranges those who are often underrepresented in in the technology industry to apply for STEP internships. This includes women, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities.

For Valerie, the opportunity to work for Google is not just a great way to spend her summer, it’s the reason she chose to study computer science. While still in secondary school, Valerie attended a talk at Victoria by Google representatives who mentioned the STEP internships.

“I had never written a line of code before and I’d been considering studying law but the chance to work for Google made my mind up.”

Valerie sent in her application for the paid internship months ago and later she completed technical interviews over the phone before her application went before the hiring committee.

“An engineer from Google called me and tested my coding skills. The first time I had no idea what to expect but the second interview went really smoothly.”

Valerie prepared for her interviews by seeking advice from her Engineering lecturers who helped her get a jump start on work she would be completing later in the semester.

The preparation, interviews and waiting paid off for Valerie who will fly to Sydney at the end of this week to begin work on one of Google’s products.

“I’ve heard the first few weeks are a bit of a blur with so much to learn. It’s a bit scary but mostly exciting.”

The intership is paid and all expenses covered. Valerie and her fellow interns will stay together in apartments near Google’s Sydney headquarters at Darling Harbour. Valerie hasn’t been there before but says was impressed when she looked it up on Google Maps.

She is looking forward to learning from the best and says even getting into the programme has changed how she sees her abilities.

“Just being accepted has already been a real confidence boost--sitting in my end of year exams, I felt like I knew what I was doing.”

The Victorias Awards - Celebrating Excellence at Victoria University

12 Dec 2014 - 19:59 in Achievement

The Postgraduate Student Association (PGSA) has a long standing tradition of recognising postgraduate excellence through the Victorias Awards which was hosted on Thursday 27 November 2014 in the Hunter Lounge. The Victorias Awards provide the opportunity to celebrate excellence in postgraduate research within Victoria University. They also recognise the support of postgraduate students, academic and general staff who inspire students with their verve and passion.

Congratulations to Engineering PhD student Henry Williams for being awarded the Landers Postgraduate Award.

Henry’s past leadership and continuing mentoring of Victoria Engineering Club is particularly noteworthy as it provides not only a forum for postgraduates to interact/network/socialise, but also link with undergraduate students. This link is vital in research led teaching, setting aspirational standards and encouraging our students to become postgraduates researchers themselves. His leadership of the NI-ARC (National Instruments-Autonomous Robotic Challenge) team directly resulted in it winning the Australasian competition in 2013, which gave widespread credibility to our postgraduate programmes. Henry is a well-regarded first year tutor, where he engages and encourages students through his passion for the subject. His volunteering for FutureInTech has helped our outreach demonstrate to secondary school students that studying at university, including eventual postgraduate study, is an awesome goal within their reach. Henry is also the student chair of the IEEE chapter of the Computational Intelligence.

Chime Red - making music with Tesla coils

17 Dec 2014 - 14:16 in Achievement

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The School of Engineering and Computer Science staff and students are creating unique musical performances involving a trio of Tesla coils.

Tesla coils, invented by Serbian-American Nickola Tesla in the 1890s, produce high voltage electricity and have inspired many kinds of research and musical performances.

The coils can play a range of original compositions written by PhD students from Victoria’s Sonic Arts Engineering programme, along with a few covers.

The control software that drives the coils’ has been developed by Josh Bailey, a software engineer, who also owns two of the Tesla coils used for the performance. The name of the performance—Chime Red—comes from the control system used to transmit the software to the coils, which was built by Mr Bailey and Victoria Masters graduate and staff member James McVay.

While music has been made with Tesla coils before, Mr Bailey’s software has taken things to the next level, with up to 16 notes able to be played simultaneously.

“As far as we know, there is no other system quite like this,” says Mr McVay. “Previously, the maximum number of notes that could be created was seven. Josh has more than doubled that.”

The whole performance is run from computers and, although songs can be played live, the compositions which make up Chime Red is programmed ahead of time. Computers, running standard music software, are connected to each Chime Red controlling a coil, which precisely controls the timing of arcs to achieve the desired notes.

“The faster you fire the coil, the higher the frequency you get. It’s hard to explain the sound. It’s very electronic, it doesn’t sound like any instrument I can think of,” says Mr McVay.

Along with an arc of electricity, Tesla coils also produce radio frequencies that can interfere with electronics. Each coil will have a cage on top of it to substantially reduce these frequencies but Mr McVay says other precautions will also be taken.

Radio New Zealand interviews James McVay, Jim Murphy and Jason Long:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ourchangingworld/audio/20157713/music-for-tesla-coils-and-robotic-bass-and-drums

Entertainment at your fingertips

03 Feb 2015 - 16:18 in Achievement

Home entertainment could soon be experienced in four dimensions as a result of upcoming research at Victoria University of Wellington.

The project, which involves a multi-disciplinary team from New Zealand and Korea, will investigate how computer graphics and emerging interactive technologies can be combined to create new, immersive, home entertainment experiences.

The New Zealand team, led by Dr Taehyun Rhee from Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, will be made up of researchers from across Victoria and the University of Canterbury.

“4D is already popular in cinemas in Korea. What we’re doing could bring that technology into people’s homes.” Says Dr Rhee who, prior to his role as a lecturer, worked in the Korean technology industry for 17 years.

Dr Rhee says at the end of the project, the team hopes to have a prototype which allows people to reach out to touch and manipulate what’s on the screen in front of them.

The user would need to attach a haptic feedback device to their fingers while wearing a head mounted virtual display such as an Oculus Rift. They would then be able to see their own hand as part of the action and reach out to touch what is happening in front of them.

Dr Rhee said it is too early to know how much can be achieved but it’s possible users will be able to feel texture as well as force.

Both the New Zealand and Korean teams plan to collaborate with potential industry partners with the potential to commercialise the prototype after the project is complete. Dr Rhee says once the technology at this end is developed, the entertainment will need to catch up.

“Movies with this kind of interactive technology are not out there yet. They will be a bit like a mix of a film and a computer game.”

The research is being made possible by a three-year grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The Korean team, from Korea University and Ewha Woman’s University, will be funded by the Korean government.

The funding of $150,000 per year will go towards supporting one PhD student and up to nine Master’s students to work on the project over the next three years. An important aim of the grant is to broaden New Zealand’s research base to enable sustainable partnerships with South Korea.

For more information contact Dr Taehyun Rhee on taehyun.rhee@ecs.vuw.ac.nz

First-year engineering project helps Samoan schools get better connected

05 May 2015 - 15:35 in Achievement

A first-year engineering project at Victoria University will see thousands of students in Samoa have faster, more reliable computer networks in the classroom.

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Engineering 101 students learn technical skills while upcycling the University's old network switches

Students from Victoria’s School of Engineering will be cleaning, checking and upgrading about 160 old network switches that are no longer used by the University.

The upcycled network switches would otherwise be sold as scrap metal.

The project is driven by the not-for-profit Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) based at the University of Oregon, which helps institutes like Victoria set up computer networks across 100 developing countries.

Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science Research Associate and NSRC contractor, Dean Pemberton says while the project allows the engineering students to gain hands-on technical experience in the classroom, the real benefit will be seen in Samoan tertiary institutes.

“A lot of the network switches in Samoa are completely unmanageable. These network switches, once cleaned up, will be faster and allow students to have a more reliable internet connection. They will also enable researchers at those universities to better collaborate with colleagues overseas,“ Dean says.

Research funding awarded

08 May 2015 - 17:24 in Achievement

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Professor Winston Seah, from the School of Engineering and Computer Science, has been awarded a $30,000 grant from InternetNZ to fund a Masters’ project that aims to address a key challenge for businesses dealing with exploding volumes of data.

More than ever before, says Professor Seah, businesses are reliant on data to function efficiently and effectively. As we continue to digitise information and increasingly rely on the internet for our conversations, moving information around, undertaking transactions and more, business are being faced with new problems in how to deal effectively with the data they gather and use.

The project for which Professor Seah has received funding addresses one of these newly emerged challenges—the scalability issues of traffic classification in enterprise network using software defined networking.

Putting it in layman’s terms, Professor Seah says the project is focused on how businesses understand and apply rules about the information they receive to support their businesses goals. For example, how can businesses ensure customer queries are prioritised over spam and that time-critical tasks are prioritised. “It all depends on how accurately the digital information about those transactions can be understood,” says Professor Seah.

This project has potential benefits for New Zealand companies and Professor Seah has already been approached by a New Zealand company which sees significant potential in this research.

How much architecture up front?

22 Jun 2015 - 10:46 in Achievement

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Top VUW computer scientists rewarded for pioneering research

A trio of enterprising academics from Victoria University of Wellington's School of Engineering and Computer Science have been recognised and rewarded at the highest level internationally for their ground-breaking research into software development methodology.

Professor of Computer Science James Noble, colleague George Allan and PhD student Michael Waterman received a 'Distinguished Paper Award' at the prestigious International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE). Michael Waterman completed the research with assistance from a Victoria University PhD scholarship.

Professor James Noble, who himself completed undergraduate, Honours and PhD study in Computer Science at Victoria University, states, “ICSE is the largest and most important academic and research conference on Software Engineering. It is attended by academics, researchers and teachers, but there are also a lot of industrial researchers there. That means there are people from Google, Microsoft, IBM, Facebook and Apple.”

The trio's award-winning paper described alternatives of software development methodologies, including the differences between the dynamic 'Agile' model when compared to the older, more traditional 'waterfall' model.

In the software development process, the Agile model is better equipped to deal with change, while the waterfall method approaches set tasks in a strictly linear fashion. The team's research, which investigated how much architecture should be provided up front in a software design process to maximise customer value, established that there were several optimum approaches.

Professor Noble likens the development of virtual architecture to a real-life analogy: “Traditional software development says, for example, “We want to build a really big building, so we'll dig a really big hole”. The problem is we can't use any of the building until it's built, and even then, because of technological changes and market changes over the years, when it's finished it won't do what we want.

“In some sense, traditionally, you can build software in the same way. With the Agile approach the real issue is how can you get the advantages of being able to build up these projects slowly and also be able to cater to customers as soon as possible? That's important from a financial perspective but also when you start gaining customers they can tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.”

Professor Noble continues, “So that's the real tension: how do you manage to build a system that in five years is usable, but more importantly, how can we start using it immediately?”

He believes the research will be useful to planners and project managers.

“It's a recognition of the great work we do here at Victoria. When we say that we are a world-class research institution, awards like this show that we are exactly that”.

Top conference award a milestone for PhD student Harith

30 Jun 2015 - 10:51 in Achievement

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Sushi wasn't the only thing Computer Science PhD student Harith Al-Sahaf got a taster of when he travelled to Sendai, Japan in May this year. The trip to the IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation (CEC) represented Harith's first overseas conference. He and a team of collaborators from New Zealand and Australia presented a prize-winning paper to an audience of top researchers and practitioners from around the globe. The conference is the largest of its type and covers diverse applications of Evolutionary Computation ranging from medical to military.

Harith, who completed his undergraduate study at the University of Baghdad in his home country of Iraq, moved to New Zealand in 2006 to pursue post-graduate study in Computer Science at Victoria University. While he has attended domestic conferences before, his team's 2015 Overall Best Paper Award, bestowed within such a prestigious global context, was an exciting milestone. The research his team presented was considered “a big jump within the field”, he says.

The award-winning paper was concerned with Computer Vision, one of Harith's main research interests. “Computer Vision is about replicating human visual systems to make machines that have the ability to 'see' things as humans do”, he explains. The project could also be described as advancing 'texture classification', where materials of the same texture type are grouped together. Analysing images to generate data from the real world is in turn is used to make decisions in real-life applications.

Such real-life applications of this ground-breaking research include roadside vegetation classification for assessing fire risk, and even facial recognition technology. “But one of the most important applications is within the medical field for cancer detection”, explains Harith. “Using this technology, we can detect cancer based on the texture of the tissues which are quite different from normal tissues.”

So where to now for the enterprising Harith? He is busy with his PhD research, extending the original image classification method to handle the rotation and scaling of the textures. “It's a complex problem”, he says. Harith is also keen to attend more international conferences where he enjoys making connections, sharing information and organising collaboration on future projects.

Watch this space – we're sure to hear more from Harith soon.

Prolific Computer Science pioneer named Emeritus Professor

07 Jul 2015 - 09:35 in Achievement

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Nearly 40 years since he began lecturing Computer Science at Victoria University in 1977, Professor John Hine has become an integral part of both the academic environment and the daily hustle and bustle of university life. You could describe him as a greatly-respected 'part of the furniture' – in the most positive sense of the phrase – although the enterprising academic does not sit still for long.

Now Professor Hine, widely regarded as a pioneer of the Internet and a leading advocate of Computer Science education in New Zealand, has been awarded the honorary title of Emeritus Professor. The accolade follows a long, illustrious career spanning many decades and including numerous services to his field and, in particular, to Victoria University.

Professor Hine's contribution began in the 1970s when organisations began to realise that it was necessary to educate more people in the field of Computer Science. He responded proactively to that need and in 1984 was appointed the foundation Professor of Computer Science.

Since then Professor Hine's multiple roles have included Chair of the Department of Computer Science, Head of the School of Mathematics and Computer Science, Head of the School of Engineering and Computer Science, Dean of Engineering and Director of eResearch.

He has also been involved in the development of the Internet in New Zealand, including establishing an inter-university online network in the early 1980s. This later evolved into the backbone of New Zealand's Internet and email services. Professor Hine's associated commercial company Netlink was sold in 1999, bringing a substantial financial boost to Victoria.

In the late nineties, Professor Hine was a member of the Domainz Board, the company that initially managed New Zealand's domain name space. From 2000 he was instrumental in founding the Kiwi Advanced Research Network (KAREN) and has since been made a KAREN fellow.

Professor Hine's contribution to the development of Computer Science education and the Internet in New Zealand is truly exemplary and an example of academic leadership at its best and most exciting. He is held in high regard by staff, students and the ICT community both in Wellington and more broadly in New Zealand.

We ask you to join us in congratulating him on being awarded the status of Emeritus Professor in recognition of his outstanding achievements.

Leading from the front: Daniel's Startup Weekend success

15 Jul 2015 - 12:27 in Achievement

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We asked Daniel Yeoh, a fourth year Electrical and Computer Engineering student, to share his impressions of the recent Wellington Science and Research Startup Weekend. This is what he had to say...

“The Science and Research Startup Weekend was a New Zealand first, where a bunch of different people competed to create a viable startup business in just one weekend.

It began with everyone who wanted to pitching an idea to the room. Then all the people who didn't pitch an idea chose a team to join. That's how I became a team captain, with other participants choosing to join my team if they liked my idea. I assigned roles to my group. I like leading from the front, so I used individuals' specialisations and backgrounds to allocate the roles.

My original idea was a window-cleaning robot that would scale the outside of a building. We came up with the design on the Friday night, but we discovered that there was a company in America already doing exactly the same thing. I wanted to come up with something completely new.

I decided to pivot towards a robot that, instead of cleaning windows, would climb the inside and outside of the building to scan the structure and create a 3D model. This would allow it to ascertain the structural integrity of the building by measuring, for example, the interior wall densities.

I was inspired by the opportunity to be my own boss. It meant a lot to me that the team was working on my idea. The friendships, connections and resources I gained were invaluable. Now I know that I can approach Wellington companies like Creative HQ and BizDojo to pitch ideas or ask for help from their mentors.

I think our idea was the best; the most profitable, and helpful for the community. We also got a special mention for scientific innovation from Helen Anderson, ex-CEO of BRANZ. It is a product that would help a lot of people, especially in the current New Zealand market with the earthquake strengthening taking place.

I hope to pursue the project at the VicLink Entrepreneurial Bootcamp at the end of the year. If you are a student and plan to attend a future Startup Weekend, I would say make sure to pitch your own idea. It makes the experience more meaningful and you feel like you own a piece of the process.”

Innovate and create: Kate's GovHack experience

22 Jul 2015 - 12:25 in Achievement

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When you hear the words 'government' and 'hack' in the same sentence, you could be forgiven for thinking there is questionable business afoot. But third year Computer Science student Kate Henderson assures us the recent GovHack weekend in Wellington was all above board. Here's what she has to say about her team's success at the competition...

“GovHack is an event run across Australia and New Zealand where participants use government data to build projects. We pitch ideas, form teams and create a product in just one weekend. The word 'hack' traditionally has negative connotations, but here it is used in the old-fashioned sense of the word, where you 'hack' something together to get it working.

GovHack was attended by ideas people, community members and business and marketing experts, as well as developers and designers. I was part of Team Working Title. It was great to work with a mix of people, including students from Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria. We worked well together because we knew each other from our university courses.

Our project was called “What's Next?”, a career tool for high school students. Because many of us are at university, we can remember trying to make important decisions about the future. We turned NCEA subjects into interest groups and our tool suggested career options. It also supplied average incomes for that career and the average student loan expected. The government data we used was supplied by NZQA, MBIE and the IRD.

It was great to see just what's possible over just one weekend. We managed to build a functional, interactive web page, as well as a three minute video demonstrating our proof of concept. Working on a project for three days and having it turn out well at the end is a great feeling of accomplishment.

There is no chance before GovHack that I would have been offered links to government to pitch a project. It was a great opportunity. A lot of the people involved are in the industry already, and you might be working for them in the future. It's cool to meet those people and see what different companies are doing.

We were stoked to be awarded 'Best Team' and we were also named as the Wellington nomination for the national award. I would encourage other students to go along to events like this, even if you have no idea what to expect. Hackathons are just too much fun to pass up!”

Teaching excellence award for Victoria’s Dean of Engineering

13 Aug 2015 - 11:20 in Achievement

Dale.jpg Professor Dale Carnegie accepts his prestigious teaching award from Hon Steven Joyce at Parliament. Photo credit: Ako Aotearoa.

Victoria University of Wellington’s Dean of Engineering has received one of the highest teaching honours in his profession—a 2015 Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence award.

Professor Dale Carnegie, who judges commended for his motivational teaching style, caring attitude and holistic approach to learning, was presented with the award at a function at Parliament this week.

Over a teaching career that has spanned 25 years, Professor Carnegie has taught engineering-related courses at all levels, from first-year undergraduate to postgraduate and doctoral students.

He says he takes pride in providing the best learning environment possible for his students.

“Every teaching opportunity is an occasion to lead by example, to clearly demonstrate that I enjoy being with my students, that I am passionate about the material I am presenting and that I deeply care about their individual learning.”

That approach clearly resonates with Professor Carnegie’s students who supported his award nomination with endorsements of his “engaging and full on” style, his “infectious enthusiasm” and his passion, with one student describing him as “the cool uncle you don’t want to disappoint”.

“I don’t stand behind a lectern,” Professor Carnegie says. “I wander round all the time—it’s all about being interactive and requiring full engagement from all students. It is just as important to me to inspire a failing student as it is to help a good student become the best they can be, hopefully to eventually outperform me.”

Professor Carnegie joined Victoria University in 2005, coming to the capital from a role at the University of Waikato.

He was appointed Deputy Head of School when the School of Engineering and Computer Science was established in 2009. While holding that role he led a national research programme to better understand student recruitment and retention issues in engineering.

“Students enrol in engineering with a certain set of expectations and our courses must meet those expectations. Engineers want to build, to create, to make a difference. Engineering staff and our colleagues in Mathematics took on this challenge and created a suite of new courses. Student satisfaction levels, and pass rates, soared,” Professor Carnegie says.

In 2012, Professor Carnegie became head of Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, taking over as Dean of Engineering at the beginning of 2015.

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford says the recognition for Professor Carnegie is well-deserved.

“Dale is not only an outstanding scholar but also an inspirational teacher who excites and inspires his students.

“Under his leadership, Engineering at Victoria, which is centred on the digital world, is going from strength to strength, with our students going on to work in industries at the cutting edge of this rapidly developing area.”

Professor Carnegie says the award is hugely important to him.

“I’m honoured at the recognition for myself, but also very proud of the endorsement of what we are doing in engineering.”

Check out Professor Carnegie's inspiring application video here:

https://youtu.be/Ib5_NwKEs6Q

Victoria student lights up international stage

24 Aug 2015 - 16:46 in Achievement

A Victoria University of Wellington PhD student is creating waves around the world with a win in the 2015 Sonic Arts Award.

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Mo Zareei won first place in the Sound Art category of the international competition for his piece Rasping Music, based on a video entry of the work exhibited in the 2014 Wellington Lux festival.

The Sonic Arts Award is dedicated to the art of sound. It has four categories—Sound Art, Sonic Research, Soundscapes and Digital Art—which are judged by a panel of internationally-renowned artists.

Mo, who is pursuing his PhD in music, has won €1,000 and the possibility of travelling to Rome to showcase his work.

“It’s very exciting. It’s a big award for sound art, which is a relatively new field. It’s especially nice to be recognised by the judges as they’re quite well-known artists,” says Mo.

Mo’s piece was inspired by musician Steve Reich whose work Clapping Music has performers clap a simple rhythmic pattern which shifts out of sync to create complex rhythms. Instead of clapping, Mo uses his own invention called Rasper, a noise-generating instrument involving mechatronics and micro-controller programming.

Rasping Music was originally composed as an installation piece, but it was also realised as a live performance at last year’s composers competition at the Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music (NZSM), which resulted in a shared third prize. I have written a paper on the piece which I’m presenting at a conference later this year,” he says.

Mo’s achievement extends on the success of the NZSM in Sonic Arts, with Dr Ted Apel having been awarded the 2013 Foundation for Emerging Technologies and Arts Prize in Sound Art.

As part of his PhD, Mo is developing an ensemble of mechatronic sound sculptures, among which Rasper is the first instrument. He works in both Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science and the NZSM to carry out his research, supervised by Ajay Kapur, Professor Dale Carnegie and Dr Dugal McKinnon.

“I have three supervisors from three different fields helping me. It’s great to have the flexibility to work with them all,” says Mo.

Mo is currently working on a new piece for this year’s Lux festival alongside Jim Murphy, a recent PhD graduate and teaching fellow at Victoria.

A video of Rasping Music can be found here.

For more information or to contact Mo Zareei go to www.m-h-z.net .

Curiosity - the key to new ideas

10 Sep 2015 - 11:49 in Achievement

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Since Lohit Petikam was young, he's been curious about how things work. As his understanding grew, his curiosity shifted to how he could make things work. Teamed with his expanding interest in maths and a realisation of the power of computers, Lohit's curiosity transformed into a new hobby—programming.

"I found myself making things, like small games and music visualisations. Then I developed an obsession for making electronic music. The concepts in music technology that appealed most were quite heavy in maths and physics—so I got into electronics and signal processing, hoping to gain a better understanding of what my music software was doing behind my back."

Music and sound have continued to intertwine with Lohit's more analytical side as he has pursued his studies in Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering—with some music papers on the side. A Summer Research Scholarship recording kiwis is a good example of this.

"My scholarship was about taking stereo audio recordings of kiwi calls, then using analysis techniques to estimate the direction the call came from. The recordings can be used as a low cost and easy way of understanding kiwi movement habits in native bush. Three main algorithms were tested to see how well the recordings could tell the direction, and how they coped with both noise and echo in the environment."

After doing the research, Lohit took part in the Summer Gold Poster Competition, designing a poster that explained his research to the general public.

"I was keen to do this from the start, because I felt that people could learn more about engineering if they weren't intimidated by abstract concepts and maths equations. I have some experience tutoring—both first-year and secondary school students—so I applied what I'd learnt there and described my research in an intuitive way, using design and graphics to make it visually appealing."

Another highlight for Lohit has been making a speech synthesizer controlled by a glove interface—enabling users to make human voice sounds with their hands.

For Lohit, it's the practical side of the Engineering programme that makes it so worthwhile.

"The programme forces you to get your hands dirty—through practical labs and assignments. It leaves you with the experience and skills to build what you want.

Students need to do their own research before accomplishing a goal. Though time-consuming, the projects have been rewarding because you end up with a finished product that you can call your own."

Avalon Intermediate technology pilot programme a huge success

22 Sep 2015 - 09:22 in Achievement

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It's a few minutes before nine on a Friday morning at Avalon Intermediate School in Lower Hutt. In the school hall, representatives from Victoria University's School of Engineering and Computer Science are adding the finishing touches to three interactive learning stations.

The programme is part of the University's 'Introduction to Technology' pilot at the school. The 10-week activity programme gives students and teachers a taste of technology education two mornings a week and it is hoped it will lead to a sustainable programme that can be used in future years.

Right on nine, the doors burst open and year seven and eight students pour into the hall. They bring with them an excited buzz and enthusiastic chatter. John Barrow, Victoria’s Outreach Coordinator, says, “It's great to see how into it the students are”.

Avalon Intermediate is a decile 2 school where, with a large proportion of Māori and Pasifika students on the roll, the importance of technology education cannot be overstated. Teacher Janine Simpson explains that many of the children do not often venture outside the Hutt Valley.

“The technology in these sessions is the most cutting edge they have ever seen,” she says.

Students have already learned about building powerful paper darts, encryption, including coding and decoding messages, building small, autonomous robots called Bristlebots and making their own interactive apps. They have also had an introduction to Scratch, a programming language for children.

Today's theme is virtual reality and the students are in for a treat.

Station one has been set up to allow the students to try the virtual reality headset known as the 'Oculus Rift'. As students take turns riding a virtual rollercoaster, the sounds of whooping, cheering and laughter echo around the hall.

12-year old Naomi Masson says, “I like how it felt so real, like I was on an actual rollercoaster”.

She was also inspired by learning to create cellphone apps. “I want to try it at home.”

At station two students encounter a new invention called Google Cardboard. It's a simple virtual reality which works by attaching a Smartphone to a cardboard viewfinder. Very soon students are running all over the hall experiencing 'mixed reality', a merging of real and virtual worlds, for the first time.

Station three is just as appealing. Students control an avatar on a screen who copies their moves as they dance, wriggle and star jump. The computer programme is called 'MikuMikuDance' and operates with a simple Xbox 360 sensor. Once again, raucous enthusiasm reigns.

The aim is to engage students at a young age and encourage them to consider tertiary education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is clear many of them are already feeling inspired. Even after the bell goes to signal break, students are crowded around the stations, asking questions, pointing, excited to learn more.

Trace Hohipa, also 12, enjoyed the Scratch programming session the best so far. “I liked it because it felt like I was in my own world”.

Teacher Rose Campbell agrees that the programme has been a huge success.

“It's been amazing for the kids to host the experts from Victoria University and have a taste of different types of technology because these kids are the ones entering a technological world.”

Student video competition awards creative entries

05 Oct 2015 - 11:20 in Achievement

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The School of Engineering and Computer Science recently challenged its students to create short videos showcasing what they like most about studying Engineering through a competition named ‘What Flicks your Switch?’

Students submitted videos covering a wide range of topics, from engineering projects to what it is like to study at Victoria University.

First place winners Henry Williams, Robby Lopez and Michael Pearson showcased the development of the robot they entered into the annual Australasian National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition (NIARC).

Postgraduate student Henry Williams said entering the video competition was a chance to share his enthusiasm for making robots.

“Building stuff is fun, especially robots, and at Victoria we have had the opportunity to make some pretty awesome stuff. We are especially proud of what we have achieved at NIARC each year.”

Second place winner Liam Dennis, who is studying software engineering, was inspired to enter the competition to further his love of film-making. He wanted to show the benefits of students from engineering and computer science working alongside, and incorporating, other disciplines.

“I wanted to show that the greatest joy can often be found at the intersection of fields, where we combine different skills to improve the way we live now and in the future.”

The winning team took home $1000 of electronic equipment while the second place winner received $500 of electronic equipment.

Check out the winning video and the runner-up and keep an eye out for upcoming competitions and events.

Victoria students succeed at Summer of Tech

12 Oct 2015 - 09:45 in Achievement

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Victoria University Engineering and Computer Science students won first and second place in the annual ‘Hackfest' run by Summer of Tech, a not-for-profit programme that connects tertiary students with New Zealand technology employers.

Hackfest gives teams of students a chance to step outside the classroom and apply their skills to solve a technical challenge. This year’s brief was to create devices for the home that can be controlled remotely.

A team of third-year Victoria University students called ‘CatFud’ took first place for their innovative automatic cat food dispenser.

Second year Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering student Shaetrun Pathmanathan, whose team ‘Cactus Flowers’ came second with a plant monitoring system, says the event is a great way to apply skills gained during study.

“Hackfest is about having fun while learning about your chosen profession. At university we get into the nitty-gritty of electronics, and these events give you chance to apply that learning, and think about how these devices work in the real world.”

The team had to work through several challenges as it created its product—a device that could make remembering to water plants a thing of the past.

“Our product detects when the soil is too dry, and pumps the right amount of water in from a pre-filled water bottle.

“Evaluating the hardware we had to use was difficult, and we came up with a real 'No. 8' solution to get basic functionality working. After spending a lot of time designing a water valve I realised we could use a fish tank pump instead!”

Shaetrun’s advice to anyone thinking about getting involved in a Hackathon or Summer of Tech is to jump in, and make the most of it.

“I would attend another Summer of Tech event. It’s a great way to learn about what you could do in the future, and get experience working in teams, making friends, and challenging yourself to come up with creative solutions. Some of my team mates were also offered interviews for internships.”

Find out more about Summer of Tech

ECS researchers awarded in 2015 Marsden Fund grant scheme

12 Nov 2015 - 10:28 in Achievement

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Victoria University's School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) is excited to announce that two academic staff and top researchers have been awarded funding for research projects in the prestigious Marsden Fund grant scheme for 2015.

The fiercely-contested Marsden Fund supports excellence in science, engineering, maths, social sciences and the humanities in New Zealand by providing grants for investigator-initiated research. It is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Government.

A total of $53.5 million in Marsden funding was awarded to New Zealand researchers this year. Victoria University received 13 grants, equal to more than $8 million in funding, cementing the University's reputation as a leading research institute.

ECS Professor Mengjie Zhang's successful project is entitled “Genetic Programming for Dynamic Flexible Job Shop Scheduling”. To support his research he has been awarded $550,000, distributed over three years, in the latest round of grants. The grants pay for salaries, student and post-doctoral scholarships, and research consumables.

Victoria’s Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Kate McGrath says the University is particularly proud of recipients who have received multiple Marsden funding over the years. This includes Professor Zhang, who is celebrating his fourth Marsden Fund grant.

“Marsden funding recognises excellence in leading-edge research. To receive multiple Marsden Fund grants is an outstanding achievement,” says Professor McGrath.

ECS's second Marden Fund grant for 2015 went to Senior Lecturer Dr Hui Ma. Her project, “Distributed Data-Intensive Service Composition”, was awarded a Fast-Start grant of $300,000. Fast-Start awards are designed to create research momentum for early-career researchers. Dr Ma was one of a number of women recognised as Principal Investigators of successful proposals, a number which rose from 39% last year to 44% this year.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce describes the advantages of supporting top-level research within New Zealand.

“The Marsden Fund invests in investigator-led research that seeks to generate new knowledge with long-term benefits for New Zealand,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Government recognises that funding for such research can generate substantial returns to society over time. The Fund continues to play an integral role in a high-performing science system focusing on excellence and impact, promoting New Zealand as a destination for top scientists and R&D investment.”

Championing cybersecurity: Victoria partners with global leader

16 Nov 2015 - 10:04 in Achievement

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Victoria University of Wellington has entered into an agreement with local firm Total Risk, a partner of the Software Engineering Institute’s CERT Program at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, in what is considered to be a major development for cybersecurity in New Zealand.

“Cybersecurity has been identified as one of the greatest commercial threats facing New Zealand, with business and government largely lacking the individual expertise to protect themselves against this ever-developing danger,” says Geoff Todd, Managing Director of Viclink, the University’s commercialisation office.

“The collaboration with CERT means Victoria is working with the gold-standard organisation in the field. This isn’t just good for the University, it’s good for New Zealand.”

The Software Engineering Institute is a not-for-profit Federally Funded Research and Development Centre (FFRDC) at Carnegie Mellon University, specifically established by the United States Department of Defense to focus on software engineering and cybersecurity.

The relationship with Total Risk means Victoria will be aligned with one of only nine CERT-certified partners globally, and the only one in New Zealand.

“The significance of this collaboration cannot be understated,” says Victoria’s Dean of Engineering Professor Dale Carnegie. “It gives Victoria the impetus to push on with a multidisciplinary cyber programme, and a CERT-certified one at that, which should prove very attractive for both local and international students.”

Victoria’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford is delighted with the agreement.

“This initiative presents an extremely exciting prospect for Victoria University and Wellington in particular. However, it also translates into a highly valuable asset for the wider Asia-Pacific region and sits well with the University’s strategic objective of contributing to New Zealand’s digital future.”

The collaboration gets underway in the near future with a series of events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, with Kristopher Rush, a Technical Director from CERT, addressing CEOs and CIOs on cyber vulnerabilities.

ECS end-of-year Honours presentations impress

27 Nov 2015 - 11:22 in Achievement

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Outer space, traffic and music were just some of the topics covered as students, staff and industry partners celebrated the culmination of a year of hard work at the Dean's Sessions end-of-year Engineering and Computer Science Honours students' presentations recently.

The inspiring student presentations included solutions for visualising astronomical data, a Wellington traffic visualisation tool, and the re-design of a commercial power amplifier.

“These presentations are the final milestone in many of our students' academic careers – they represent a huge amount of work, inspiration and determination,” said Dr Kris Bubendorfer, senior lecturer and Honours supervisor for ECS.

Eight students presented their work - Christopher Hawkins, Tony Butler-Yeoman, Andrew Lensen, Josianne Hyson, Michael Winton, Jarrod Bakker, Dayle Jellyman and Hamish Colenso.

They were chosen because of the appeal their work has for the wider community. Each presentation was marked not only on content, but also on each student’s ability to field detailed questions about their research from the audience.

The presenters spoke confidently and professionally as they shared their research outcomes with the audience, supported by their classmates who came to see them in action.

“With so much talent here, we’d like to see our students studying for as long as possible, before they’re snapped up by industry partners - including those present today,” said Professor Dale Carnegie, Dean of Engineering.

After the presentations, those same industry partners asked the students “Where to from here?” regarding the next steps for their projects.

Some students used the event as a way to connect with industry and foster links for future employment, while others plan to return to study at Victoria as Masters and PhD students.

Dr Bubendorfer says that whatever path the students choose, “We are incredibly proud of our students and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.”

PitchHub project takes to the stars

11 Dec 2015 - 09:56 in Achievement

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What could Star Wars mastermind George Lucas do next time he needs ideas on how to crush the Rebel Alliance? Thanks to ECS Honours student Michael Winton, he could use PitchHub, an online collaboration platform for innovators.

PitchHub is the result of a year of hard work for Michael on behalf of his client, Callaghan Innovation, a government agency supporting high tech businesses in New Zealand. The aim of Michael's Honours project was to create an online, cloud-based platform for users to share creative ideas and connect them to other people and to resources. The end result was christened 'PitchHub'.

“Gregor Neumayr, Senior Research Engineer at Callaghan Innovation, had the idea for PitchHub a while ago,” says Michael. “This year's ENGR489 project was the ideal opportunity to turn that idea into reality”.

In his end-of-year presentation at the Dean's Sessions event recently, Michael used Star Wars to explain how the platform works in practice.

In his fictional example, Michael used Star Wars characters to contribute ideas to filmmaker George Lucas, who needed help to decide how to crush the uprising Rebel Alliance.

Princess Leia saw that George Lucas had posted a 'pitch card ' to PitchHub detailing his idea to create a Death Star, a galactic super-weapon to help the Imperial Forces destroy rebels and planets.

She made a suggestion which changed the direction of the pitch, saying, “No, the Death Star should become an arbiter for the Rebel Alliance; helping people, helping planets...”

While Lucas rejected her suggestion (a friction that Michael says often happens in negotiations), he accepted the advice of Trade Federation character Nute Gunray instead, who suggested he use a Droid Army.

He updated his 'pitch card' to include this final solution and there we have it – through PitchHub, the Star Wars characters helped Lucas continue the plot that we all know and love.

There are several key selling points which differentiate Michael's PitchHub from similar products.

“PitchHub enables an easy and collegial sharing of ideas between users,” says Michael. “They can also choose who sees their information, which is important to protect their intellectual property, while the high tech security prevents malicious access to the platform.”

So how did Michael apply what he learnt during his courses at Victoria?

“What I learnt at university was absolutely essential. Knowing how to break down what I needed to do, and then say: “This is the next step… this problem may occur later...” That's what I learnt at university”.

Michael has tested PitchHub to ensure it can cope with the 400,000 to 600,000 potential users (the size of New Zealand's innovation community) and it is now live at pitchhub.net. Callaghan Innovation has pledged financial backing to develop the project from prototype to commercial product.

In the meantime, Michael is off to Sweden's Uppsala University to study Masters courses in Cryptography and Distributed Systems. He plans to continue his studies at Victoria upon his return.

“Victoria has really sparked something in me, especially this year, when I was able to interact with my professors as colleagues.

“I believe that this Honours project, while it demanded blood, sweat and tears, will give me a great head start on a successful career in Engineering”.

Wellington Traffic Visualisation aids local commuters

18 Dec 2015 - 10:20 in Achievement

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Sick of sitting in peak hour traffic? Thanks to ECS Honours student Josianne Hyson, slow mornings and frustrating commuting could soon become a thing of the past.

Josianne spent the year creating the “Wellington Traffic Visualisation”, a tool that helps the user to see where the concentration of traffic is in the central city and at what times. Users can also view more detailed graphs about a particular street by clicking on it or searching for it.

Josianne credits the initial idea to her supervisor, Associate Professor Kris Bubendorfer, who proposed the project. Her other supervisor, Senior Lecturer and ECS Head of School Stuart Marshall, helped with the user testing.

The Wellington City Council provided the data for the visualisation in the form of spreadsheets detailing traffic volume and speed information for each year since 1999. Josianne's tool was designed to help city planners find trends in the data with the aim of aiding the practical design of Wellington's streets.

“Reading the data from the spreadsheets it originally came in made it very hard to quickly spot meaningful changes or patterns”, says Josianne. “Having a visual tool that lets the user see the information in a graph or on a map makes it easier to find the trends in a high volume of data”.

In the user testing phase, Josianne showed the graphs she had prepared to her supervisors and classmates whose feedback was used to refine the visual information to make it more effective. It took her six months to build the system from start to finish, while juggling three regular courses.

“I had to draw on knowledge from a range of courses that I took at university”, says Josianne. “Courses that provided practical experience with web technologies, databases, visualisation and human/computer interaction were particularly useful for this project but many other courses contributed to my programming abilities as well”.

While there are currently no plans to sell the tool and Josianne is as yet unable to host the system publicly due to restrictions on the data, she hopes a future student will be able to carry it forward for their Honours project after she has made a few tweaks.

“This project was an opportunity for me to improve my coding abilities and learn new technologies. The large scale of the project was also an interesting experience dealing with an increasing codebase and researching solutions to the difficult challenges I encountered”, she says.

Josianne now has the opportunity to use these new skills in her chosen career. She has started working full-time at Powershop, where she has been interning for the last two years, as a Ruby on Rails developer. Ruby on Rails is a web application that combines the Ruby programming language with HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Now Josianne also knows the best route to get to work in the mornings!

Outreach Coordinator lights up young minds

29 Feb 2016 - 09:05 in Achievement

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John Barrow is enthusiastic about his mission for 2016: to connect with New Zealand's young people and get them excited about technology.

“We have to show it to the students, let them play with it, encourage their crazy ideas and help them to make it a reality”, says John, the newly-appointed School of Engineering and Computer Science Outreach Coordinator.

Outreach combines student workshops and personal development for schoolteachers with tours of the Victoria University campus and support to hold events. The aim is to encourage students with a passion for computing, technology, science and maths into tertiary education by showing them the diverse range of courses and careers available to them through the University.

John began in the temporary position of Outreach Coordinator in 2015 and has now signed on permanently. He brings an interesting mix of real world IT and teaching experience to the role and has 24 industry-related exams behind him. So what drew John to the Outreach job?

“The University offers a great working environment and capable colleagues, not to mention the latest technology and support to make things happen”, says John. “The best part is seeing young students click on to a concept and get enthusiastic about the opportunities open to them.”

In 2015, John visited a number of schools up to Hawke's Bay and hosted hundreds of students at Victoria. He also attended a national robotics competition for children called Robocup and worked alongside school staff in Canterbury and Otago.

“It was a real eye-opener to experience first-hand the technology buzz happening in our communities”, says John.

And if that wasn't enough, John delivered a successful technology pilot programme at Avalon Intermediate. Topics covered included Scratch (a programming language for children), drones, graphics and cryptography (the art of writing and solving code).

“It was nice to have regular contact, build relationships and see the students really grab the technology and play with it”, says John. “At the Kapiti Robot competition I was really impressed to see year 10 students making robots to navigate a maze - that's what we get our first year university students to do!”

Now John's goal is to develop lesson plans to support teachers who deliver digital technology standards in schools. This means teachers can strengthen students' core maths and science skills by delivering a set of ten lessons, a resource that follows on from John's introductory workshops.

John also plans to set up more events and competitions, such as involvement in Wellington's LUX light festival, and encourage technology education in school productions, code clubs, robotics clubs and 'extra for experts' sessions.

“Technology will be a big part of their world, so let them own it and make it brilliant”.

ECS professor wins international programming prize

18 Mar 2016 - 09:32 in Achievement

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A Victoria University of Wellington researcher has won an international prize for work that makes it easier for students to learn coding.

Professor James Noble, from Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, has won the 2016 AITO Dahl-Nygaard Senior Prize for his contributions to computer programming languages.

The international prize is considered the most prestigious in object-oriented Computer Science, and last year was won by Bjarne Stroustrup, the designer of renowned programming language C++.

Professor Noble is part of an international group of researchers who created Grace—a language specifically designed to help novices learn programming in a simple way.

Simple, object-orientated programming languages are sought-after, says Professor Noble.

“Grace emerged from a conference in 2010, where it became clear there was a need for a new, more easily digestible programming language,” says Professor Noble.

“People can find programming languages daunting or frustrating, but they shouldn’t. Grace has flexibility—that is, students can be introduced to it in stages, and can grow to the full version at their pace.

“I’ve been working to make the syntax and semantics of Grace as easy to learn as possible, and engaging with students to lower any barriers.”

One of those students is Sam Minns, a professional musician who turned his attention to studying Software Engineering five years ago.

During his studies, Sam developed a web-based music library which allowed him to use Grace to programme music live.

“I can create and perform music by writing code live in front of the audience or dance floor,” says Sam. “This shows just how useable Grace can be, and how different people can get value out of programming.”

Sam—who will graduate with a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in May— works as a Software Developer at Powershop. He also presents the Friday Nite ‘Flava’ show on Radioactive.fm, and was a core performer and producer for percussion ensemble Strike.

“Grace can help novices in their forays into computer programming,” says Sam. “It helps to minimise that discouragement when programmers are first starting out, and create code with greater ease.”

ECS staff excellence rewarded

30 Mar 2016 - 08:57 in Achievement

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Staff Excellence Awards: (L-R) Vice Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford, Teaching Award winner Dr Ciaran Moore, Provost Professor Wendy Larner.

Two highly-respected academic staff from the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to Victoria University in teaching and research.

In Victoria’s Staff Excellence Awards for 2016, Dr Ciaran Moore received an Early Career Teaching Award and a $5000 grant, while Professor Mengjie Zhang received a Research Excellence Award and a $10,000 grant.

The Awards are designed to acknowledge staff who have gone over and above the call of duty and are also a tangible way of promoting excellence at Victoria.

Dr Moore, a lecturer in electronics and maths, says his teaching responsibilities have included re-designing first-year engineering maths papers, and encouraging peer-led learning among students.

“I delivered a series of labs to show how maths can be used in an engineering context”, he says. “I also organised self-paced labs and student-led tutorials. Students learned a lot from each other and got to see their learning in action”.

Dr Moore’s techniques had a great effect on overall engagement and achievement in his courses. He says it was a “wonderful feeling” to be recognised for his efforts and plans to use the grant to attend an engineering education conference in the United States in October.

Colleague Professor Mengjie Zhang also has plans for his grant. The Professor of Computer Science and Associate Dean (Research and Innovation) for the Faculty of Engineering was recognised for superb research leadership, especially in Evolutionary Computation, including several international awards.

“I will use the money to support staff and students’ research”, says Professor Zhang. “I would like to help more people within our Group and Faculty to play an international leadership role in their areas, and to attract high-quality students from overseas”.

Vice Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford agrees that acknowledging exemplary staff contribution is a crucial step for Victoria.

“In order to achieve our goal of being a world-leading capital city university, we need to ensure we foster and support excellence for the world-leading people across our organisation”, he says.

This year Professor Guilford presented 22 staff excellence awards, including several to teams. He says, “These accolades are testament to the work of all the people who make our capital city university tick”.

New Computer Graphics programme looks to the future

06 Apr 2016 - 11:38 in Achievement

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Victoria University of Wellington has launched a new Computer Graphics programme that will educate students to develop the next generation of tools in a rapidly-growing and in-demand industry.

The first cohort of undergraduate students have started classes for the new Computer Graphics major, offered as part of Victoria's Bachelor of Science degree.

"Our major is focused on providing a deep understanding so that our graduates can develop novel tools and ideas for use in films, games, medicine, simulation and more," says Programme Director Professor Neil Dodgson. "We've recruited a strong team of world-class researchers to teach the programme, and propel our students into future thinking."

Professor Dodgson, former head of the Graphics and Interaction Research Group at the University of Cambridge, moved from the United Kingdom to head the programme.

The content and structure of the programme was developed with input from Weta Digital and other local digital technology companies.

"Computer graphics is an exciting field that offers students an opportunity to explore both the art and science of creating digital imagery," says Joe Letteri, Senior Visual Effects Supervisor at Weta Digital. "We are looking forward to working with a new generation of students and helping them turn their formal training into professional experience."

Wellington has the highest concentration of web-based and digital technology companies in New Zealand. A recent Victoria University report found that more than 20,000 people—or 10 percent of the region's work force—are in digital sector roles.

Professor Dodgson says there has never been a more exciting time to study Computer Graphics.

"There are increasing job opportunities in film, television, gaming, virtual reality and simulation—there are even jobs that don't yet exist as the industry is constantly evolving. The high demand for skilled graduates led Victoria to develop the Computer Graphics major, building on our existing expertise in computer science, mathematics and design.

"The strong industrial base in Wellington, the interaction between companies and Victoria, and the synergy within the University between the Schools of Computer Science and Design makes for an unbeatable combination in this subject in New Zealand."

Students will also be able to continue to Victoria's postgraduate study options in Computer Graphics, including Master's and PhD programmes.

Being an active participant in enabling a digital future is one of Victoria's key areas of focus for the future.

For more information on the Computer Graphics major please see http://www.victoria.ac.nz/study/programmes-courses/subjects/computer-graphics/ or contact Neil Dodgson on 04 463 6922 or neil.dodgson@vuw.ac.nz

A winning visit for international design student

22 Apr 2016 - 10:52 in Achievement

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A visiting PhD student at Victoria University of Wellington has been recognised with an award in a national structural design competition.

Judyta Cichocka spent 14 months at Victoria carrying out research between the Faculty of Architecture and Design and School of Engineering and Computer Science, during which she entered a project in the Art in Structure competition.

Art in Structure, supported by Easysteel, challenges entrants to express their concept of space using metal construction materials in a new way, showcasing the versatility of steel.

Judyta was awarded runner-up in the Emerging Designer category for her design Hiriwa Pavilion.

“My design is an experimental structure which endeavours to reinterpret the function of steel, and uses steel as textile or fabric. The perforated steel plates form a lattice membrane for a small outdoor pavilion,” says Judyta.

“Taking second place in this category is a great distinction for me. The winners were chosen by the public during a pop-up virtual sculpture park in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter earlier this month. Some will be fabricated to a finished product and auctioned to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities.”

Judyta travelled to New Zealand from Poland’s Wroclaw University of Technology in December 2014 as part of the Thelxione: Erasmus Euro-Oceanian Smart City Network exchange programme. She carried out interdisciplinary research around architectural design optimisation with evolutionary algorithms, led several workshops in parametric design, and was a member of Victoria’s Evolutionary Computation Research Group.

“My time at Victoria was priceless. I am mainly grateful for my supervisor Dr Will Browne, who taught me a lot and established this fantastic collaboration between the Faculty of Architecture and Design and School of Engineering and Computer Science,” says Judyta.

Judyta, who has now returned to Poland, also worked with Master’s student Zach Challies on a 3D printed eyewear design project, which earned them an honourable mention in the Reshape 15 Wearable Technology competition. Judyta and Zach received the award and presented the project in Rome in October 2015.

http://www.artinstructure.nz/

http://www.youreshape.com/reshape-15-winners/

Wellington ICT Graduate School #open4bizness

04 May 2016 - 11:12 in Achievement

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The new Wellington ICT Graduate School has been declared open for business.

The school is a partnership between Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington Institute of Technology and Whitireia Polytechnic, with strong collaboration from key players in the ICT industry.

It will support the rapidly growing ICT sector and deliver industry-focused education and graduates with work-relevant, business-focused skills and was officially launched by Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce.

“Wellington is home to some highly successful technology-based companies, and the Wellington ICT Graduate School has the strong backing from the ICT industry who are represented on the governing board, and thriving relationships with local companies and networks.”

The launch event on Tuesday 3 May in central Wellington was attended by over 200 people, including local and national government officials, academics, and key players in the lCT industry.

“The success of the event illustrates the value that the Wellington region places in its rapidly growing ICT industry,” says Rees Ward, Director of the Wellington ICT Graduate School.

Industry leaders have identified the need to grow the ICT workforce in New Zealand.

“The Wellington ICT Graduate School will address this gap by exposing students to the industry as they undertake their study, to ensure they join the workforce attuned to the latest trends and practices. Industry partners will be able to connect with students through scholarships, mentoring opportunities, internships and project work,” says Mr Ward.

Professor Mike Wilson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculties of Science, Architecture and Design and Engineering at Victoria University, is welcoming the launch of school.

“This is an excellent opportunity for Wellington and we are excited to join with WelTec and Whitireia to leverage our existing networks, resources and education capabilities to develop a school that will lead to a pool of ICT talent and collaborative research partnerships.”

In 2016, the Wellington ICT Graduate School will offer five Master’s-level degrees, with graduates becoming experts in software development, business analysis and engineering—vital disciplines for the ongoing growth of the regional and national ICT sector.

http://www.wellingtonictgraduateschool.ac.nz

Bringing Google to life at VUW

09 May 2016 - 11:14 in Achievement

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This year’s Google Student Ambassadors are a passionate and organised bunch. We asked Joanna Rubi what makes her and her fellow ambassadors Bianca Fraser, Mayur Panchal and Charlene Leong tick...

What is the Google Student Ambassadors programme?

It’s a bridge between Google and the University. We act as the voice of Google on campus, promoting the products and services that Google has to offer, and keeping the university updated on all Google-related news.

Is this a global initiative?

Yes – there are approximately 1000 student ambassadors across 65 countries. It allows universities from countries across the world to connect with Google and with one another.

What makes a good Google Student Ambassador?

A good Google Student Ambassador is someone who is passionate about technology and who is actively involved in their university and wider community.

How did you get this opportunity?

I went to several Google events and found out about the programme. It was a dream of mine to work for Google so I applied online and my dream came true – this is the best thing to happen to me since Gmail!

Who is on your team and what do you do?

I work with my fellow students Bianca Fraser, Mayur Panchal and Charlene Leong. We host events to champion Google’s products and programmes on campus. We also manage a Facebook page called ‘Google at VUW’.

What are the perks of the job?

We get the chance to improve our leadership and communication skills and add the experience to our CVs.

What do you guys hope to achieve this year?

We want to promote Google as much as we can by creating fun, informative and helpful events for Victoria University students.

What was the ‘Google on Campus’ event?

Some Googlers from the Sydney office came to Victoria recently to promote opportunities for students including their graduate programme and other internships and scholarships. They also ran a Code Lab where students created a real-time web chat app.

How did it go?

The Googlers told us we had the biggest turn out they’d ever seen - our 300-seat lecture theatre was overflowing!

And what about the ‘Android Hackathon’ event recently?

Our students spent a weekend hacking together a basic Android app. They had to pitch their idea, design the app and then build the code as a team. Most importantly this event was to promote our upcoming AdMob challenge.

So what is the AdMob challenge?

If you’re a student with a great idea for a mobile app, this is your chance to build it, learn how to make money from it - and win awesome prizes. The Grand Prize winner will score a week-long trip to San Francisco, including a visit to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View.

What other kind of events will you host this year?

We hope to host a big mix of events including educational seminars and social events. Students always flock to get the free Google gear and pizza. Like us on our Facebook page ‘Google at VUW’ so you don’t miss out.

What would you say to our ECS students thinking of attending your events?

Get ready for heaps of fun and also to learn lots about how Google can help make life easier for you and your community.

And finally, what would you say to someone thinking of becoming a Google Student Ambassador?

Just get yourself out there and do it!

Team 'FrontDoor' fronts up at Android Hackathon

17 May 2016 - 09:11 in Achievement

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We asked third year Bachelor of Engineering Honours student Divya Patel to tell us about the recent Android Hackathon held for VUW students. Divya, a Software Engineering major, was excited to share her experiences of being part of ‘FrontDoor’, the team that won second place at the final prizegiving...

What was the Android Hackathon?

The Google-sponsored Android Hackathon was a ‘hackfest’ for students where we had 48 hours to develop an Android app using a programme called Android Studio. We also had the chance to make connections with each other and with industry mentors.

How did you get involved?

Word of mouth! I found out about the hackathon through a friend, and I had always wanted to learn how to make an app, so I signed up. I enjoyed working with my team members David Barnett, Daniel Braithwaite and Jack Bannister Sutton.

What was your team name and why?

We called ourselves ‘FrontDoor’. The name came up as a joke when we were discussing ideas with our mentor. It suited what we were trying to achieve, which was to connect to networks directly without knowing the passwords.

What happened across the weekend?

We presented our ideas for apps and then formed teams by choosing the projects we were most keen to develop. Next, each team decided on a plan of attack and split the tasks among team members. My job was to work on the front-end of our app, creating the front page and implementing the display.

Tell me about your app.

The app we created is a network hacker. It scans for wireless networks in the area, and for each network found, attempts to connect to it by trying the passwords on the ‘100 most common passwords’ list.

What is the purpose of the app?

It’s basically an academic research tool to gather interesting information. The app wirelessly monitors and probes network connections. It helps to point out how vulnerable some passwords are, and also identify gaps in security that individuals and organisations need to be aware of. The information gathered could also be used to educate the public on how to pick strong passwords.

What were some of the other apps that grabbed your attention?

There was one to control robots which was pretty cool, and another to make Metlink travel information like timetables and updates more accessible. Considering I often travel by bus, having that information available offline would be very handy.

Was there a grand prize?

The winning team ‘WeLoveKids’ made an app to teach children maths through fun, interactive games. Each of their team members won a Google Developer License to pursue the project. The licence allows them to publish their app publicly to the Google Play Store.

What was the whole experience like for you?

It was a great opportunity to learn how to do something I’d never done before. It was so rewarding to make our idea a reality over the course of just one weekend.

Would you attend another hackathon like this in the future?

Yes, definitely! It’s a lot of fun and you learn so much in such a short period of time.

What advice would you give to other students interested in getting involved?

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any experience with the technology because it’s supposed to be a learning experience. Everyone is in the same boat so it’s ok to ask the mentors for help. Just go for it!

Third year rocket project blasts off

10 Jun 2016 - 09:08 in Achievement

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Six enterprising Engineering students are tackling a year-long rocket project to help launch them into exciting careers when they graduate.

Marcel van Workum, Lauren Hucker, Tré Kani, Chelsea Miller, Harrison Jones and Jamie Sanson are building a small-scale rocket to fly over the Wairarapa region for ENGR301, a project management paper.

“The rocket project piqued our interest because it was a new idea”, says Marcel. “And how many people can say they’ve built a rocket from scratch?”

Often rockets will tip over after they are launched. The team wants to find a way to stabilise the rocket and keep it travelling straight, making sure that all of its energy is used to get it flying as high as possible.

“Larger rockets are usually stabilised, but if we can get it going well on a small scale it could be popular with amateur rocket enthusiasts”, says Marcel. “Building something that works well without NASA’s budget will be a cool challenge.”

They aim to slowly increase the performance of the rocket by using larger and larger motors, under the watchful eye of their mentor, Victoria’s Andre Geldenhuis, who has experience with avionics. Holly Ade-Simpson, a fourth-year student, is also providing guidance to keep the team on track.

But group work can be challenging – especially as the students are pursuing different majors under the Engineering degree – so they need to make decisions democratically, split the workload, and play to their strengths.

“The advantage of combining multiple majors into a single project is that you get a large pool of technical knowledge to work with”, says Marcel. “Even within the disciplines, everyone has their own speciality. With such a diverse group, when we encounter a problem, someone always knows how to fix it.”

The team has until the end of the year to complete the project, which will likely be improved by next year’s class. At the moment the students are designing a trial rocket, with test flights and simulations on the horizon. There are also health and safety considerations to comply with.

“There is a long list of things that could go wrong, so we created a risk register to minimise the chances of that happening”, says Marcel. “We’ve learnt a lot about legally launching a rocket - and also specific technical knowledge relating to the project. We want to end up with a stabilised, fully-functional rocket that can transmit data via radio communications”.

The students have varied ambitions for the future, from pursuing rocketry and building high performance cars and aeroplanes, to working for one of the large aerospace companies in Europe and for NASA in Artificial Intelligence and communications.

“This project shows that we can work together as a team, which is an essential part of being an engineer”, says Marcel. “It also shows off our technical know-how to employers.”

It’s clear the rocket project will get these students off the ground: watch this space as they take flight!

Classes kick off at Wellington ICT Graduate School

26 Jul 2016 - 12:05 in Achievement

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It’s an exciting week in the Victoria University calendar. From Monday, the first cohort of students officially begin classes at the Wellington ICT Graduate School, located in a new space on Wigan Street in the heart of Wellington’s CBD.

As our world becomes increasingly digitally-dependent, graduates with strong digital skills are more in demand than ever. The School – a partnership between Victoria University, WelTec and Whitireia – is offering four brand new Master’s programmes: a Master of Software Development, a Master of Engineering Practice, a Master of Professional Business Analysis and a Master of Information Technology.

Wellington is widely known as the ideal place to study ICT. It boasts a creative and innovative environment, with significant local digital, film and gaming industries, alongside a strong start-up culture. While New Zealand’s ICT industry is booming, Wellington is at the heart of the growth with more than 13,000 full-time ICT jobs in the wider region.

Rees Ward, Director of the School, says New Zealand’s industry leaders have identified the need to grow the ICT workforce.

“The Wellington ICT Graduate School will expose students to the industry as they undertake their study, to ensure they join the workforce attuned to the latest trends and practices”, says Mr Ward. “Industry partners will be able to connect with students through scholarships, mentoring opportunities, internships and project work”.

The Master of Software Development, for example, is a one-year, 180 point Master’s degree delivered through a combination of coursework, and Research and Development (R&D) projects with industry partners. The course will also include a range of case studies from Wellington’s software development industry.

About 18 of the programme’s enrolled students recently completed SWEN131, a programming ‘bootcamp’ designed to develop their basic skills, prepare them for their coursework and give them a taste of what is to come. Students learnt to design and debug small programmes and work on larger software projects in groups while applying software development methodologies and tools.

Professor Mike Wilson, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculties of Science, Architecture and Design and Engineering at Victoria, is welcoming the new classes.

“This is an excellent opportunity for Wellington and for us all to combine our existing networks, resources and education capabilities", he says. ”Our aim is to develop a school that will create a pool of ICT talent and develop research partnerships, not just for the benefit of Wellington, but for all of New Zealand".

For more information, check out https://www.wellingtonict.ac.nz/

Introducing Karsten Lundqvist to the ICT Graduate School

03 Aug 2016 - 12:16 in Achievement

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Name? Karsten Øster Lundqvist.

Born? Viborg, Denmark.

Lived in? I first lived in various Danish towns and cities for 29 years, then I lived in Norway for a couple of years - and after that I spent 14 years in England, 20 miles west of London.

First job? My very first job was as a kid in an industrial plant which made low-cost furniture. The first job I had that I really liked was as a Research Assistant at the University of Reading.

Position at VUW? I am a Senior Lecturer with the Wellington ICT Graduate School.

Most looking forward to at VUW? Connecting with people, getting stuck into cool research and developing the ICT Graduate School.

Key research interests? I have broad interests within eLearning, but I especially like using AI methods to improve eLearning. I have also worked in Serious Gaming in the past, which is an area I would like to grow more. Many of the things I have worked on recently have been for mobile phones, and I'd like to do more in this field too.

Why Wellington? Shortly after I got married to my wife almost 20 years ago, we discussed places we'd like to live. New Zealand was the top country. San Francisco was our top city in the world. When I came here for my interview, it became clear to me that Wellington is New Zealand’s San Francisco. You just have to substitute the 49'ers - the American Football team in San Francisco - with the Hurricanes and the All Blacks. The decision was actually relatively easy!

Favourite movie? Probably a Danish movie called "The Last Song of Mifune". My favourite English language movie would be "The Shawshank Redemption".

Favourite musician? This is a difficult one. I like many different musicians so it really depends on my mood. It is mostly "loud" though. I most often listen to music like POD, Rage Against the Machine, Rammstein, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Pink Floyd, The Cure...

Favourite food? Middle Eastern food. I love lamb!

Quote to live by? "To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself" - Søren Kierkegaard.

All the IT in China

04 Aug 2016 - 15:26 in Achievement

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Two ECS students, Amelia Harris and Keanu Holden, recently went on a whirlwind trip to Beijing Jiaotong University in China to attend an IT Summer School. We asked Amelia to share first-hand her impressions of the trip and the intriguing new culture she discovered...

“Beijing was a totally new experience because I had never been overseas before. The trip from the airport to the university was about an hour, so I was able to take in the different landscape that Beijing had to offer. Adapting to the heat was a challenge as the first day reached 37ºC!

Arriving on the Sunday morning gave me time to adjust to my new surroundings before the two-week programme began on Monday. I stayed in an international dorm with people from outside the course. Luckily, my roommate and I met someone who spoke Chinese, and they showed us the best place to find lunch.

The class included 25 people from more than 10 different countries. Our primary focus was to build an Android application which could record and play back sound, which we did using Android Studio.

We usually had class in the morning, and then in the afternoons we’d sometimes go on fieldtrips. For an authentic cultural experience we went to Beijing Shaolin Wushu School, which is a part of the International Kung Fu Federation. Here we watched some students perform and then we were given a quick lesson of “the most basic Kung Fu”, which proved quite difficult for most of us!

We also visited some technology companies including ChinaSoft and Xiaomi, where we were given tours and the chance to test out the different products for sale.

In my free time, I explored Beijing. I visited the Wangfujing snack street, Houhai lake, Sanlitun, and Wudaokou. The weekends consisted of organised day trips where we visited the main tourist attractions including the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace.

The whole trip was a very eye-opening experience for me. I learnt a lot from the course and from being immersed in a new and exciting culture.”

For more information and to register your interest for future trips to Beijing Jiaotong University IT Summer School please contact Sharon Gao at xiaoying.gao@ecs.vuw.ac.nz

Gotta Catch Em All: An Insider’s Guide to Pokémon hunting

09 Aug 2016 - 12:41 in Achievement

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Computer Graphics PhD student Kieran Carnegie has walked an extra 50 km a week since the release of Pokémon GO, so he’s the perfect person to share his experiences with other dedicated Pokémon hunters...

“I got into playing Pokémon GO as a mix of nostalgia and the fact that my lab mates were also playing. It’s a social game and running around the university catching Pokémon is a lot of fun.

I’m currently at Level 22. I walk to and from uni, so I hatch a 5 km egg every day, which really helps for getting Experience Points (Exp). I also save my lucky eggs until I have multiple eggs to hatch and then I mass-evolve Pokémon like Pidgeys to gain a massive amount of Exp in 30 minutes.

Pidgeys are useful as they are common, and evolve really easily. Eevees are also really common in Wellington which is nice – they are one of my favourite Pokémon from all those years ago.

In terms of rare Pokémon, a Ninetails got away from me in the Cotton building yesterday! Wandering around Wellington has also been good for nabbing a few other rares: I have hatched a Snorlax, caught an Aerodactyl at the hospital and, after a dead sprint across the university, caught a Charizard on Boyd-Wilson field!

One of the biggest advantages of Pokémon GO is is that it gets gamers outside. According to the in-game tracker, I walk around 50 km each week with it open. You also get to meet all sorts of people while out hunting.

The disadvantages include issues like trespass or people looking at their phones and walking into traffic. I’m not a fan of people spending their entire lives looking at a cellphone screen. Wellington has some amazing walking tracks and you don’t have to be married to your phone for the entire track!

A hardcore Pokémon GO gamer is someone who is willing to walk out of their way to find Pokémon, and who spends long days going for walks to catch Pokémon and long nights taking over gyms when no one else is awake to contest them.

Finally, here are my top tips and tricks for other Pokémon players – you’ll have to be a player to understand them!

  • If you are going to spend money on Pokémon GO, the egg hatchers are the best bet for improving Exp gain and getting rarer Pokémon – just don’t use them on 2 km eggs.
  • Take it easy! The game will be around for a long time and will be rebalanced and modified, so don’t try to do everything at once.
  • Don’t bother with Zubats. Catch Pidgeys, Caterpies and Weedles for mass evolution.
  • Combat Points (CP) values on gym defenders are irrelevant. You can take a gym that is 500CP above you with a type advantage, and 750-1000CP above you if you can time dodges well.
  • Multiple people on the same team can attack a gym at once to make it easier.
  • Team Valor is the best.
  • If you are going to use lures, the Botanical Gardens, Frank Kitts Park and Victoria University all have locations where three PokeStops overlap. These are the best lure spots - lots of people get to use them, and you get to spawn lots more Pokémon.”

Introducing Dionysis Athanasopoulos to the ICT Graduate School

11 Aug 2016 - 15:19 in Achievement

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Name? Dionysis Athanasopoulos.

Born in? Greece.

Education? I received my PhD from the Computer Science & Engineering department of the University of Ioannina in Greece in 2014.

Work? Previously, I worked as a Post-Doc researcher in the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering at Politecnico di Milano in Italy. During my MSc and PhD studies, I worked as an R&D Software Engineer on several large-scale research projects (e.g., EU-funded FP7 ICT IP projects, ‘CHOReOS’ and 'SeaClouds'). I have also taught at several technological institutes and high schools.

Position at VUW? Lecturer in Software Engineering for the ICT Graduate School.

Key research interests?
  • Software engineering, esp., maintenance (software refactoring)
  • Service-oriented & object-oriented architectures
  • Data engineering, esp., service & schema matching
  • Green-aware engineering of service-oriented software
  • Software-as-a-Service architectural model on the cloud
  • Software design principles & patterns.
Why Wellington? Because it is one of the most lively capital cities in the world and Victoria University is among the top universities worldwide.

Favourite movie? Good Will Hunting.

Favourite musician? Andrea Bocelli.

Favourite food? Grand tortellini al tartufo – tortellini with truffles!

From grad student to ECS lecturer: Introducing Yi Mei

12 Aug 2016 - 13:47 in Achievement

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Name? Yi Mei.

Born in? Yongxiu, a small town in southern China.

Lived in? I lived in several Chinese cities when I was a student, then I spent two years working in Hong Kong. After that I moved to Melbourne for three years before coming to Wellington last year.

First job? When I was an undergraduate, I worked part-time as a private tutor, just to earn a bit of extra money.

Position at VUW? I’m a Lecturer in Computer Science.

Most looking forward to? Pursuing my academic career goals in such an excellent workplace. It’s always exciting to have opportunities to collaborate on research that can change the world. I’m also looking forward to sharing my knowledge with students – it’s great to see them grow and develop.

Key research interests? I’m really interested in artificial intelligence, machine learning and optimisation. I’m particularly interested in the most challenging problems, such as scheduling and combinatorial optimisation, and how to tackle them using evolutionary computation - a stream of very powerful optimisation techniques. I’m also interested in the human-like machine learning ideas such as reinforcement learning and lifelong machine learning.

Why Wellington? I love New Zealand. Coming from a heavily polluted and dictatorial country, I enjoy the freedom, fresh air and breathtaking scenery here. More importantly, people are so nice! I don’t want to leave after making so many great friends.

Favourite movie? Forrest Gump. It taught me that life is not decided by how you were born, but by how you face it. Everyone has the chance to pursue a happy and fulfilled life.

Favourite musician? A Taiwanese singer called Jay Chou. He is so talented and has created many new musical styles. He is also brave, daring to raise awareness of issues including environmental protection, war and family violence.

Favourite food? Definitely Chinese food - I love Sichuan food!

Quote to live by? I always remind myself: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

18 Aug 2016 - 11:06 in Achievement

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A Victoria University student is helping local high school students learn basic computer science skills through an after-school coding club.

Software Engineering student Mansour Javaher runs weekly sessions for around 30 students in Years 9 and 10 at Wellington College.

“I really enjoy teaching. It’s great to see the students listen and respond to what I have to tell them. I try to make the classroom a friendly atmosphere so they can relax and have fun,” says Mansour.

“I recently moved to Wellington from Iran, and teaching has not only improved my own knowledge in computer science, but it makes me more confident and helps me practise my English language and communication skills. It’s been a great experience.”

In Term 2, Mansour taught the students fundamentals of programming. They’re now developing websites, and next term will learn with Raspberry Pi— mini computers that help with programming projects.

Recently the decision was made to extend sessions to twice a week.

John Barrow, Outreach Coordinator at Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, says Mansour has been an outstanding asset.

“Mansour has taken the lead and has been helping out regularly. His teaching initiatives and efforts have been excellent—we’re very proud of him.”

The students are learning some really great skills, says Wellington College digital technology teacher David Roberts.

“It’s important to show students examples of what different disciplines there are out there and what they can do. And the high amount of interest we’ve received about the club demonstrates the demand for it.”

Photo credit: David Benseman

Top appointment to head Victoria cybersecurity partner

27 Sep 2016 - 09:57 in Achievement

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Victoria University has welcomed the appointment of NZX Chief Operating Officer Mandy Simpson as head of Cyber Toa, Victoria's partner in developing a centre of excellence to strengthen New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific's resilience against cybercrime and cyberattacks.

“The appointment of someone of Mandy Simpson’s calibre as Chief Executive Officer is further testimony to the quality and impact of Cyber Toa,” said Professor Dale Carnegie, Dean of the University’s Faculty of Engineering.

“A combination of Victoria’s research and teaching excellence, Cyber Toa’s status as one of just 10 certified training partners in the world of the gold-standard Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States and Mandy’s extraordinary leadership skills makes for cybersecurity capability and potential unmatched in New Zealand.”

Victoria’s partnership with Cyber Toa, previously the cyber division of Total Risk, includes a new Master of Cybersecurity, with a range of undergraduate degrees also proposed.

In addition, Cyber Toa’s existing SEI-accredited cybersecurity training delivered in association with Victoria is being expanded to eventually include all 42 courses the SEI has available.

Cyber Toa and Victoria will be the only provider in the Southern Hemisphere to offer all the courses, teaching them in Wellington and Auckland, and if demand requires in Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries.

The partnership also sees the establishment of a commercial computer security incident response team, or CSIRT, run by Cyber Toa and based at Victoria’s Kelburn campus, where it will offer proactive and reactive cybersecurity support to businesses and other clients.

Chief Operating Officer at NZX for the past four years, Ms Simpson has held senior roles at the State Services Commission and IT services company Fronde.

Born in Britain but a Wellingtonian since 2006, she has an Executive Master of Public Administration from Victoria’s Australia and New Zealand School of Government and a Master of Arts in Law from the University of Cambridge.

She trained as an accountant at Deloitte in London, specialising in financial investigation, and later spent four years at the London Stock Exchange, initially in market surveillance.

Ms Simpson said: “I’m excited to be joining Cyber Toa in this key growth phase. As the use of technology accelerates in all areas of our business and personal lives, the need for qualified, capable cybersecurity professionals has never been clearer. With Cyber Toa’s world-class expertise, and in partnership with Victoria University, we’ll be able to make a significant difference to our clients’ ability to respond to this growing threat.”

Kittens make game from scratch

06 Oct 2016 - 10:47 in Achievement

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Two ECS students were part of team Wise Kittens that won first place at the recent PxlJam 48 Hour Game Design Competition held at Victoria University. We asked third year Software Engineering students Hannah Craighead and Tana Tanoi to share their thoughts on the competition - and their road to game-making success…

“PxlJam is a whirlwind event where teams have to design a game in just 48 hours based on a given theme. This year’s theme was “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!” We competed last year after we were encouraged to get involved by one of our tutors - and we enjoyed it so much we decided to have another crack this year.

Our team consisted of us coders – Hannah and Tana – as well as designers Nicola Yeo and Gerrit van Rooyen, and our friend Jackson Cordery, who studies musical composition. There’s a great mix of people who take part, from first years who we’ve tutored ourselves through to PhD students who’ve tutored us. There are even people outside of the University who come along because they have a passion for game-making.

After the theme was announced, we spent the first few hours coming up with an idea for the game, which we found really challenging to begin with. The theme could be interpreted so many different ways and we wanted to come up with something unique. So we deliberately built bugs into our game, but gave players the ability to turn those bugs into tools they could use to complete each level.

Although we probably got more sleep than the majority of competitors, time management was still the biggest issue. We spent a lot of time getting the game mechanics to work - and we still didn’t have any levels designed three hours out from the end of the competition!

There were so many awesome games and it was amazing to see what other people came up with. One of the highlights was collaborating with the two designers in our team – they were great to work with and they also created some really cool content that was key to our success. Jackson’s compositions were also a real selling point: his music was amazing and everyone who played our game commented on how nicely the different pieces of music complemented the overall experience.

We didn’t expect to win overall – we were just there to have fun making games with our friends – but we were so happy to place first after last year, when our game was nowhere near as good. This year’s competition was sponsored by Victoria University, Victoria Engineering Club, Acidic website developers and Powershop, so we got to choose from a big pool of prizes: everything from Nerf guns with foam ammo to Steam gaming vouchers.

We’d love to revisit our game in the future to really flesh it out. We need to fix up some bugs and create some more levels and content. We met some awesome people, got great content for our portfolios – and it was some of the best fun we’ve had this trimester!”

ECS lecturers the best

26 Oct 2016 - 11:02 in Achievement

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The School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) was twice recognised for teaching excellence at the Student Representation Celebration held by the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (VUWSA) recently.

From more than 100 nominations, VUWSA's selection committee awarded ECS's Dr Elf Eldridge the prestigious Lecturer of the Year Award, while Senior Tutor Dr Howard Lukefahr received an Honourable Mention.

It was the first time that Victoria's outstanding lecturers were recognised at the awards, alongside the achievement of exceptional student representatives and student leaders.

Annaliese Wilson, VUWSA's Education Officer, said the time was right to celebrate Victoria's unsung heroes with a formal awards ceremony.

"We wanted to recognise the quality of our talented teaching staff and the time and effort they put into making their lectures useful and engaging", Annaliese said. "The Education Team had a tough time selecting the winners becaues of the high calibre of the candidates".

Elf Eldridge, a well-known personality around campus and an ECS institution in his own right, is currently teaching ENGR101 (Introductory Engineering) and ENGR110 (Engineering Modelling and Design). He is also actively involved in many of the student hackathon events held throughout the year and frequently uses social media to engage with students.

Students nominated Elf - one describing him as "hands down the best lecturer I have ever had" - for always making lectures enjoyable, for his clear and accessible teaching style, and for going above and beyond the call of duty when students need extra help.

"Elf is very passionate about engineering, friendly and empathetic - and he makes every class interesting", said one student. "He can explain difficult concepts well, he is entertaining to listen to, and he captivates the audience no matter what the topic".

"Elf really enjoys the subject he is teaching, which makes for a good vibe in class", said another student. "When I queried a grade, he sat down and remarked my assignment with me, giving me personal feedback as he went".

Elf himself says the best thing about being an ECS lecturer is working with students who have a great mix of enthusiasm and humour - and teaching a subject that is so relatable.

"Engineering and Computer Science is so easily connected to modern life; be it from examining content throttling by Internet Service Providers, to discussing the effect of bugs in games; from the design of new graphics cards to the ethics of probing the security of a network", he says.

Elf has also honed his teaching technique to get the best from his students.

"I try to acknowledge that my students are human - for example, I split my lectures into two 20-minute chunks with a break for a discussion or a video in between, so it's easier to concentrate", he says. "I also use my class reps to keep track of how busy students are; I sometimes cancel lectures to give students more time, and I visit the labs regularly to keep tabs on their progress."

Senior Tutor Howard Lukefahr's students were equally quick to point out his commitment to helping students achieve highly in the four 100-level Engineering courses he teaches.

"Howard has gone out of his way to help us get through our first year of engineering and our first set of university exams", said one student. "He even ran extra tutorials before assessments".

Students also commended Howard for making sure that no one is left behind.

"He always makes sure that everyone understands the concepts by teaching in an engaging, fun and informative way. I am nominating him because he is the most involved and passionate lecturer I have ever had.

"It's because of him that I have succeeded this year".

Howard himself says it is a "great honour" to receive the Honourable Mention from VUWSA.

"I get to work with very keen and able students everyday - they like learning and I like helping them learn", he says.

What now for newbies

03 Feb 2017 - 09:44 in Achievement

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After our busiest year yet in 2016 and a well-deserved Christmas break, Engineering Faculty Dean Professor Dale Carnegie is predicting exciting times for staff and students of the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS)…

“Welcome to 2017! I hope you had a relaxing festive season and are feeling refreshed and pumped to take on the new year. An especially warm welcome to those of you who are on campus for the first time. We hope to provide a setting for you to learn, to grow, and to think about where you are going in the world. We can’t wait to show you what ECS has to offer you!

Although I'm not big on resolutions, the start of a new year does make me think about the things I want to achieve. Personally, once this weather settles, I want to get out on the harbour a little more - I need the exercise to offset the chocolate-eating that was forced upon me at Christmas. Rather than work out at the gym, I've also invested in some seriously sharp power tools to help with the gorse explosion - plus power tools are an amazing form of stress relief. I'm not so sure my wife agrees - but that's the price she pays for being married to a practical engineer!

Work-wise it's going to be a really full-on year for ECS. Student numbers are growing, and in fact, we're the fastest-growing Engineering faculty in New Zealand - and probably Australasia. We have developed a well-deserved reputation for the quality and employability of our grads, with many of our alumni pursuing amazing careers all over the world. Yet from my own experience, I know how important it is that, as new students, you feel a real belonging to your faculty from the very beginning; that your lecturers sincerely care about your progress, and that there is support there when you need it.

Our pastoral care programme is second to none. So if you are a new student this year, please touch base with Craig Watterson and Howard Lukefahr at the first year orientation. Craig and Howard are employed specifically to help you get ready for the challenges that are coming your way in your first year of university. It's absolutely normal to be overwhelmed, for things to go wrong, for flatting to go awry, or to miss your family. You'll be amazed at how many students have exactly the same worries as you - and how easily Craig and Howard can help out.

Technology is changing all the time, and I keep hearing that most of the jobs that will exist in 20 years' time have yet to be invented. But that is our challenge. We will be New Zealand's leading institution for high-tech ICT and Engineering training and research. While other universities might offer civil, structural or other ‘classical’ forms of Engineering, we only focus on the new, modern, high-tech forms - to prepare you for those jobs of the future.

To achieve this, we are already hiring new staff under two new majors: Cyber Security and Sustainable Energy. In a year’s time we will be offering Mechatronics. We will also provide a major in Victoria’s new health degree so that we are training specialist graduates capable of creating new software systems to improve New Zealand's health systems. We will be working with several other university programmes as well to help inject state-of-the-art technology training to a wide variety of Victoria’s degrees.

Last year we also introduced a BSc major in Computer Graphics and we were extremely fortunate to lure Professor Neil Dodgson away from Cambridge University to lead this programme. We more than tripled the expected number of students in the first year it was offered! That we can get staff of this calibre is a real testament to the quality of the education you will get from us. In fact, another indication of the quality of our staff is the number we have said ‘no’ to. We only want the best. We also have supporting professional staff who are the envy of many other schools at Victoria. And we are all here to help you succeed!

This year will be challenging, and personally, I will have to keep an eye on my work/life balance. My three year old daughter still wants my time, and my wife tells me that she enjoys my company - when she manages to drag me away from the power tools. I'd like to encourage you to make sure you get a good work/life balance as well. You will definitely need breaks from studying, but fifty hours of gaming a week is not going to get you a degree! Balance is the key.

So on reflection, my resolution for 2017 comes down to ensuring that we are New Zealand's best high-tech Engineering faculty - and that student well-being is at the heart of all that we do.

It is a real privilege to be the Dean of such a buzzing faculty full of dedicated staff and outstanding students. Have a great year and I sincerely look forward to announcing your name at one of our graduation ceremonies in years to come.”

How to rock Orientation 2017

21 Feb 2017 - 12:16 in Achievement

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Don’t miss the Bachelor of Engineering with Honours and Computer Science majors orientation on Thursday 2 March from 3-5pm in Maclaurin Lecture Theatre 101, followed by a welcome BBQ outside the Hub (gym side)…

Welcome to Victoria University of Wellington! If you’re new to Vic in 2017 you can settle in with the New Students’ Orientation programme held at the start of Trimester One. A huge range of activities, workshops and events have been scheduled to help you get your bearings, prepare for academic life, meet new people - and have fun along the way. This really is the best way to see what Victoria can offer you!

Orientation takes place the week before official classes begin and will run from Monday 27 February to Friday 3 March. You’ll also be sent a copy of the New Students' Orientation booklet with your confirmation of study from late-January 2017.

To really make the most of Orientation, take a look at the Orientation timetable to figure out what events and workshops you would like to attend during the week so you don't miss out. Most Orientation events are held at our Kelburn campus and we recommend that you attend as many as you can.

Don’t miss the Bachelor of Engineering with Honours and Computer Science majors orientation on Thursday 2 March from 3-5pm in Maclaurin Lecture Theatre 101, followed by a welcome BBQ outside the Hub (gym side). This is your welcome to the Faculty, where you’ll meet your lecturers and tutors, hear about what to expect in your first year, plus receive info on our student support services. This is also a good chance to ask any questions you may have and find out how you can make the most of your lectures, tutorials and labs.

Other helpful things you can do during Orientation week include confirming your lecture timetable, finding your lecture theatres, visiting your Faculty office, buying your textbooks at Vic Books, and checking out student services including the Accommodation Service, Disability Services, and the Student Health and Student Counselling services.

Study skills and IT workshops are also available for note-taking, essay writing and academic tips and to get you set up online to help you make the most of your studies. You can also take a tour of Victoria’s campuses and the central library so you can get your bearings before classes start. Māori, Pasifika, refugee-background and mature students have independent Orientation events, so if that’s you, check them out on the Orientation timetable.

Social events include the Campus Coaches kick-off, WGTN Hall events, and the Welcome Festival, plus you can find out what’s happening at Victoria Recreation, the popular gym on Kelburn Campus. Additionally, ‘Get Involved’ workshops are student-led sessions covering leadership opportunities, volunteer work, clubs, sports and overseas exchanges available to you during your time at university.

And finally, it wouldn’t be Orientation without Victoria University of Wellington Student Association’s ‘OWeek’ programme. OWeek is spread over a fortnight during which time you’ll experience great entertainment, from the annual Toga Party and campus stalls, to international music shows and comedy nights. This year, a number of local Wellington festivals are also part of OWeek, so you can get to know the city.

And, for the first time at Victoria, for five days, you and your friends can gather at the ‘Fringe At Victoria’ depot for guided tours of a variety of fringe shows held around the university.

So get stuck in, get involved, and get set up for a wonderful year of new experiences and academic success.

http://www.victoria.ac.nz/students/new-students/orientation

Senior Tutor: Introducing Morgan Atkins to ECS

23 Feb 2017 - 10:36 in Achievement

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Name? Morgan Atkins.

Born in? I was born in sunny Napier, famed for its orchards, wineries, and Art Deco style buildings.

Lived in? Other than Napier, I’ve lived in Central Hawkes Bay, Wellington and Lower Hutt. Of those, I love Wellington the most.

First job? My first job was delivering newspapers, way back when. My first full-time job was as a programming intern for SpikeFin - a job I got through what was then called ‘Summer of Code’.

Position at VUW? Senior Tutor, and part of the pastoral team under Craig Watterson. I’ll be heavily involved with the 200-level Software Engineering and Computer Science courses.

Most looking forward to at VUW? The challenges and learning experiences my position will bring. I’m looking forward to being able to run tutorials and do some teaching here and there, and being a part of the pastoral team.

Key research interests? My prior research has been in Artificial Intelligence and Concurrency, but I’ve also picked up an interest in education research.

Why Wellington? I’ve lived in Wellington since I moved here for university back in 2006. It’s got such a great atmosphere, and it’s just one of the easiest places to live.

Favourite movie? Song of the Sea (2014). A beautifully hand-animated masterpiece from director Tomm Moore that tells a very Irish fairytale.

Favourite musician? Right now? It’s probably Ramin Djawadi. Good music to do work to!

Favourite food? I have a bit of a soft spot for takoyaki, but there only a few places in town that do it.

Quote to live by? "We are not what other people say we are. We are who we know ourselves to be, and we are what we love" (Laverne Cox).

Postdoctoral Fellow: Introducing Hamed Sadeghi to ECS

23 Feb 2017 - 11:53 in Achievement

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Name? Hamed Sadeghi.

Born in? Iran.

Lived in? Iran and Canada.

First job? Tutor at the University of Toronto.

Position at VUW? Postdoctoral Fellow.

Most looking forward to at VUW? Exciting state-of-the-art research.

Key research interests? Machine learning, Deep learning.

Why Wellington? It's a beautiful city!

Favourite movie? 'Hacksaw Ridge'.

Favourite musician? David Garrett.

Quote to live by? "The sky's the limit" (Cervantes).

Oscars win for Victoria researcher

27 Feb 2017 - 09:33 in Achievement

Adjunct Associate Professor John Lewis of Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science has won a Science and Technical Award from the Academy® of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in a pre-Oscars ceremony recognising technical achievement in filmmaking.

John, alongside Weta Digital colleagues Luca Fascione and Iain Matthews, was recognised for the development of the software ‘Facets’.

Facets enables animators to bring live performance facial expressions to animated characters.

The trio designed, engineered and developed the software at Weta Digital for the making of the movie Avatar. It has since been used in many films including The Adventures of Tintin, The Hobbit movies, The BFG and The Planet of the Apes series.

"Avatar introduced the practice of capturing the actor's facial motion at the same time as the body, by using a head-mounted camera and computer vision techniques," says John.

“The actor's motion is then solved into muscle motions, and these muscle motions are replayed on the animated character.

“The system is also engineered to allow artists to easily adjust the animation if needed—something that is not possible with many motion capture approaches.”

18 scientific and technical achievements were recognised at the ceremony in Beverly Hills.

This is John Lewis's second Academy® Award. He was previously awarded for pose space deformation, a technique for flexibly simulating the skin shape of a moving character. The technique has become widely used in movies and games.

Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science offers degrees in collaboration with Victoria’s School of Design, uniting design, computation and mathematics.

The University recently announced the establishment of a new state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Miramar’s film sector, in collaboration with Weta Digital and Miramar Creative Ltd. The Centre will initially be the base for two of Victoria’s Master’s programmes—the Master of Design Technology and the Master of Fine Arts (Creative Practice).

4D visit from South Korean government

07 Mar 2017 - 14:37 in Achievement

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A representative for the South Korean government recently visited Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science to observe research taking place in computer graphics.

Mr Kim Byoung-Gwan, this Prime Minister’s Fellow for Korea, viewed research which is part of a Korea/New Zealand government-funded project, HDI24D: Human-digital content interaction for immersive 4D home entertainment.

The project is a collaboration between Victoria University, the University of Canterbury and three Korean universities: Ewha Women’s University, Hongik University and Korea University.

The research is to develop techniques for novel home entertainment using mixed reality technology, to provide immersive visualisation and tangible interaction between viewers and digital content.

The New Zealand part of the project is led by Dr Taehyun Rhee, director of Victoria’s Computer Graphics Laboratory. His research focus is on perception-based rendering, specifically lighting and composition that allows seamless incorporation of computer-generated objects into live video. He is also investigating ways to reduce visual discomfort in users wearing virtual reality headsets.

Mr Kim, who has extensive commercial experience with computer graphics techniques, trialled one of Dr Rhee’s demonstrations of real and computer-generated objects. When asked which were computer-generated, he was impressed to find that he was unable to tell the difference.

Computer Graphics Programme Director, Professor Neil Dodgson says, “Dr Rhee’s research is at the cutting edge of computer graphics. Even with the power of modern graphics cards, it is stunningly difficult to get virtual objects embedded in video, in real time, with correct lighting and shading.

“This project exemplifies the sort of international research collaboration that Victoria is so good at. We were delighted to have Mr Kim visit and to have his input on the ongoing work of our collaborative project. We look forward to future successful work in this area between Korea and New Zealand.”

Keep calm and carry on

13 Mar 2017 - 09:57 in Achievement

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“I’m Craig Watterson and I manage the School of Engineering and Computer Science’s pastoral support programme. And no, ‘pastoral support’ is not about learning how to milk cows! It’s actually about helping all first year students with the exciting transition to university life.

A student’s first year of Engineering or Computer Science is crucial. It’s a major life transition. You have to be self-motivated for the many tests and exams. On top of that, you might have left home, shifted country, begun relationships – and need to work and have a social life as well.

I work closely with our lecturers and the Associate Dean of Students, and I manage two senior tutors who help with academic support for students through labs and tutorials, as well as evening study sessions. Pastoral care is about engaging students on a personal level so that they are in a good headspace to learn.

In the first two weeks, all new Engineering students take a diagnostic test so we can get an idea of their maths skills. Next, I contact students to make sure they are taking the right courses, and to make them aware of all the extra help available. We know that if students engage with pastoral care early on they gain confidence and quickly lose the fear of asking for help – it’s about providing a safe, caring and inclusive environment for students to thrive in.

Throughout the year I continue to monitor students’ academic progress, and where issues arise, I provide early intervention to help students get on top of things. This is usually an informal and confidential chat where we discuss what is going on and work together to find a way forward.

This can often be as simple as helping you get a time extension, or knowing who to talk to about dyslexia, or arranging to contact a course coordinator. I have extensive knowledge about all the services offered by the University, from academic support and social clubs, through to financial and health services.

I also know all about the staff, courses and processes within the School of Engineering and Computer Science. In fact, I can probably talk to you about pretty much anything you need! It’s all about making you feel like you can come and chat any time about your studies and how it’s all going for you.

I have an open-door policy when it comes to getting help and advice. No question is a dumb question at university! If I can’t help, I will direct you to someone who can. The best thing to do if you have a friend who needs help is to bring them to see me. Together, we can overcome the many challenges of university life.

You are going to have fun and learn a lot during your first year. We have some amazing lecturers that are simply inspirational. You’ll be playing with programming and even designing and building functional robots from day one. Our student Engineering club also offers fun social events such as quizzes, paintball and LAN parties.

For more info or to have a chat, email me at omg-help@ecs.vuw.ac.nz or visit me in CO253.”

Taming tutorials: your secret weapon

21 Mar 2017 - 10:54 in Achievement

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“My name is Howard Lukefahr and I’m a Senior Tutor within Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science.

My job is to help students do well in their first year Engineering papers and gain admission to second year programmes. To do this, I work with the academics to develop and teach tutorials, labs and review sessions for a range of first year classes. I also offer individual help to anyone who needs it. If I am not busy teaching, I am always available to students who come to see me for help with learning.

University is very different from secondary school. It’s a lot more fun! Instead of memorising facts and equations, you get to really understand how they work, and then use them creatively to design useful devices. It’s certainly challenging, but also very rewarding.

In your college maths and science classes, you probably came across some pretty hard problems. But the exam problems were always the same as the assignment problems and the examples in class. At university, the test and exam problems may use the same concepts as the assignment problems, but they will be quite different. So new students also have to make the transition from remembering solutions to inventing solutions themselves. But once you’ve solved some problems yourself, you’ll really want to solve more – it’s addictive!

We also have some really capable student tutors. These are second, third and fourth year, and postgraduate students, and they have completed the same papers you’ll be taking. You’ll see them in your labs and tutorials, and also around campus. They are a hugely valuable resource to you, so get to know them. University is all about learning as much as you can, so we pick our tutors carefully to maximise your learning. Make use of them!

Another important part of the first year experience at ECS is the evening workshop tutorials. These run twice a week for a few hours each time. Students work on assignments, forming small groups to collaborate if they wish. Help is available for all first year students from multiple tutors, and as a bonus we provide students with snacks and refreshments at these sessions. Generally these tuts are a lot of fun. It’s a great way to catch up with your friends as well as staying on top of the first year workload.

It’s very important for students to get involved with all aspects of academic life as early as possible. Arrange study groups, come to the evening tutorials, and make the most of all the resources available to you, and you’ll hit the ground running. It’s a lot harder to catch up than to stay on top of things, so don’t wait until a small problem becomes a big problem. We are always happy to see students who need help, want to learn more, or just want to chat.

I also work closely with our ECS Pastoral Support Manager, Craig Watterson. If it all gets too much, he is your first port of call and also your most important contact in your first year, so you should get to know him as soon as possible. If you need academic help, he will refer you to me or another one of our tutors. If it’s something else bothering you or one of your friends, he will work with you to find a solution that you are happy with.

Our motto within the Engineering school is “Think it! Plan it! Build it!” This motto of course refers to technology, such as the awesome robots you will be designing in your first year, but it also applies to your academic career: Think about what you want! Plan how to get there! Build the skills and tools you need to do so!

For more info or to have a chat, you can email me at howard.lukefahr@ecs.vuw.ac.nz or visit me in CO261.”

Students keep their eyes on New Zealand's water quality

29 Mar 2017 - 10:43 in Achievement

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A water quality testing device created by third-year Engineering students will be developed for a wider audience after winning a World Wildlife Fund Conservation Innovation Award.

The River Watch Water Testing Device, which provides users with real-time data about the health of their waterways, was developed by students Matthew Hammond-Blain and Aidan Bennett-Reilly in one of their Engineering classes.

The pair began with two water-testing prototypes developed by previous students, and integrated the best of both into one watertight, user-friendly, higher quality device. They also worked alongside fellow team members who created an integrated Android app that can remotely read the data gathered by the device.

Dr James Quilty, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, says both the device and the app are open-source and freely available to the public.

“It’s out there if people around the world want to build on this device. They can take the schematics and source code and make improvements, providing they honour the agreement to return the improvements back to the community.

“It really is citizen science.”

The device was created in collaboration with grassroots citizen science organisation Water Action Initiative New Zealand (WaiNZ), which has worked alongside Victoria Engineering students for five years.

WaiNZ will use the $25,000 WWF prize money to develop the device into something that can be used on a wider scale—both within New Zealand, and around the world.

More information is available at www.wainz.org.nz

Huawei 2017 Seeds For The Future Programme

03 Apr 2017 - 11:40 in Achievement

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We are pleased to announce that applications are now open for the Victoria University of Wellington and Huawei 2017 Seeds for the Future Programme.

The programme provides a vital link between classroom learning and the type of real world situations students will face once they enter the workforce. It aims to challenge and inspire students who are considering a future in technology, and to provide an immersive experience of life at one of the world’s leading technology companies.

Up to four recipients from Victoria will be invited to attend this programme in 2017, with preference given to third and fourth year students.

Successful candidates will attend a two week study programme based in Shenzhen, China, spending time at Huawei Headquarters and at its research and development laboratories. They will learn directly from those who are busy creating the next generation of consumer, enterprise, and network technology.

Recipients will also spend a week in Beijing to experience Chinese history, culture and language, and to gain an understanding of New Zealand’s largest trade partner.

As part of the study programme, Huawei will cover in full the cost of recipients' air travel, accommodation, travel insurance, entry visas and all meals. The date for the trip is yet to be confirmed but it will take place in the break in late August/early September 2017.

Please read the background information document and return your Expression of Interest form by 5pm on Sunday 9th April 2017 to Suzan.Hall@vuw.ac.nz

Software engineer wins top student award

10 Apr 2017 - 09:06 in Achievement

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Victoria University of Wellington graduand Jack Robinson has won the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) Ray Meyer Medal for Excellence in Student Design.

The 22-year-old was awarded the prize at a ceremony last week for his final year project. His project simplifies the creation of traffic management plans for roadwork sites.

“Whenever a contractor or event organiser would like to conduct work or hold an event on, or near a road they have to complete a Temporary Traffic Management Plan (TTMP). These are ten page documents often with hand drawn diagrams of the site,” says Jack.

“My project moves the whole process online and makes it much easier. Users can specify work sites on a Google Maps-like page and generate a fully contextual work site.”

The Ray Meyer Medal is IPENZ’s top award for students, and aims to encourage a new generation of innovative engineering designers.

The judges said Jack stood out as a clear winner of this award, with a well-presented project that had excellent commercial potential. They also commented on the excellent level of user-testing that Jack had engaged in.

Jack’s project was supervised by Professor Dale Carnegie, Dean of Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science and senior lecturer Dr David Pearce.

“Jack was very motivated from the beginning and worked hard throughout the project,” says Professor Carnegie. “The award is great recognition of the work he has done—one that solves a real world problem. Jack displays all of the qualities we hope to instil in our Engineering graduates.”

Jack, who is now working as a graduate developer at Xero, will graduate with his Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Software Engineering in May.

Engineering Dean's List celebrates student success

02 May 2017 - 09:42 in Achievement

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The Faculty of Engineering is pleased to announce that the Dean’s List 2016 has been published.

Introduced in 2011, the Dean's List celebrates academic excellence for students enrolled in an undergraduate degree at Victoria University, with each faculty preparing its own list.

Dean of Engineering, Professor Dale Carnegie, says the Engineering Dean’s List is a way of recognising exemplary student achievement within the Faculty.

“We are very proud of the considerable efforts of our students and congratulate each and every one of them who has been included on the Dean’s List 2016”, says Professor Carnegie.

“The list is a formal, published record of excellence within Victoria University and recognises the hard work, dedication and commitment to academic success that we encourage in all our undergraduate students.

“These students are now well-prepared for further study within the faculty and I am confident that this academic discipline shown early on will lead them into successful careers at the forefront of global technology.”

Engineering: Dean's List 2016

Ade-Simpson, Holly  
Baker, Jaiden  
Barnett, David  
Barnett, Logan  
Bennett, Bryn  
Blair, Riley  
Byrne, Liam  
Campbell, Bob  
Carr, Jonathan  
Chin, Janice  
Chong, Dylan
Clay, Gareth  
Cooper, Davis  
Craighead, Hannah  
Curry, Ryan  
Dennis, Liam  
Diputado, Eric  
Dobbie, David  
Edwards, Tom  
Fuge, Thomas  
Greenwood-Thessman, James  
Hack, David  
Hammond-Blain, Matt  
Hanna, Brady  
Huang, Joely  
Inkster, Luke  
Klapaukh, Benjamin  
Li, Callum  
Liang, Megan  
Libunao, Maria  
Matchett, Matt  
Miller, Chelsea  
Moody, Connor  
Moshi, Ewan  
Muller, Brandon  
Palado, Gabie  
Patel, Divya  
Pearson, Will
Phillips, David
Phillips, Tessa  
Robinson, Jack  
Russell, Ben  
Sanson, Jamie  
Savill, Patrick  
Schurhammer, Julian  
Singh, Harman  
Solomon, Rhaz  
Steffensen, Callen  
Tildesley, Joe
Yang, Rock  
Young, Dan

It just goes to show

26 May 2017 - 09:14 in Achievement

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Engineering and Computer Science graduates Glen Peek and John Gelbolingo were two of the innovative entrepreneurs who took part in the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp Final Showcase recently, taking their smart business ideas from the whiteboard to the tech world with the help of Viclink, Victoria’ commercialisation office…

It was the show that had it all—from romance and entertainment, to altruism and humanitarianism—and it was all in the name of helping Victoria graduates to think like entrepreneurs.

The Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp Final Showcase represented the culmination of 12 weeks of intense exploration and discovery by ten teams of Victoria’s most innovative graduates and students, who presented their range of business ideas to a packed audience at the BizDojo in February.

“Each team starts out with an idea that they hope to turn into a business,” explains Emily Grinter, Viclink’s Entrepreneurship Manager, and Programme Manager of the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp. “Whether they achieve that or not is not actually our primary goal—it’s the learning along the way that is important. We want to grow these young people into entrepreneurs who have the skills to take virtually any idea and work through the process to determine its viability.”

One of those ideas started out as a romantic gesture—“I wanted to find a way to leave messages for my girlfriend to collect around town”—but led Glen Peek to create ‘Stash’, an app that enables people to stash images, videos and text for others to find, anywhere in the world. While investigating different ways to create revenue from his product, Glen landed his first job—for Victoria University—delivering a digital scavenger hunt for students taking part in New Students' Orientation week. Stash is now available for download from Google Play and the App Store.

Also in the tech space, John Gelbolingo from Sweet Tea Interactive introduced his augmented reality app, which he is targeting at the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) industry. “Museums can use it to engage visitors with their exhibitions, and help them to experience art in a new and different way,” says John. And because the app’s motion capture sensors enable people to virtually ‘try-on’ costumes or garments, the team is approaching New Zealand Fashion Week and the World of Wearable Arts (WOW) to discuss future opportunities to work together.

Wanting to help tertiary students to better manage their money was the initial motivation behind team Blume’s app, ‘Teller’; however, significant market research proved their prototype wasn’t viable. The team has since identified another potential avenue for the product, and is looking at partnering with a financial advisory firm who may use the app to improve the way it engages with its customers (who are also looking to manage their money more successfully).

Team Par’s mentor-matching idea gained ground after their market research survey of 500 mentors found that 40 percent of volunteer mentors were still waiting to be matched with mentees. Par’s programme enables mentoring organisations to manage their recruitment, training, matching and managing processes more quickly and efficiently, so they can stay focused on the people that they are striving to help. Already working with the Primary ITO, among others, they are interested in talking to anyone who has a mentor-matching problem to solve.

Lack of access to sanitary products in New Zealand has been a hot topic in the news for a while now, but team Dignity have used the Bootcamp experience to do something about it. Their business model involves selling corporate subscriptions for businesses to receive regularly deliveries of environmentally-friendly sanitary items—and for every pack bought, another is donated to schools, so that girls won’t have to miss school due to lack of sanitary products. The team has already signed up a number of Wellington businesses who see the service as aligning with their value of corporate social responsibility, while Dignity’s idea has also been picked up in Auckland by the NZ Herald.

Climate change is an issue that, for many, seems just too big to tackle, with no easy way to take meaningful action. Enter team Colibri, whose winning idea from Climathon 2016 is focused on enabling individuals to offset the carbon footprints of their purchases with a small contribution that goes towards local climate change mitigation projects. Given that one third of environmental impact occurs on our plates, the team is now talking with local cafes and restaurants about using the Colibri e-commerce platform to collect those contributions.

Other presentations included: a social gathering platform (FlockIn) to connect exercisers with others to work out with; a 24/7 marketing tool (Maax) which combines human knowledge with external data sources to anticipate which products customers want, and when; a drink straw (Majiic Juice) that flavours the water with fruit juice when sipped through, and a programme (Exchange Link) that enables Kiwi university students to study abroad stress-free.

“The students in this intake have shown really impressive dedication to the programme,” says Emily. “Every single participant has taken advantage of the awesome opportunities that are made possible by our partners and sponsors such as the BizDojo (who allow our teams to pretty much live there while Bootcamp is on), Deloitte Private, Chapman Tripp and 1st Assembly. We simply couldn’t do it without them.”

To find out more about the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp please contact Emily Sullivan at emily.sullivan@viclink.co.nz

Welcoming Fanglue Zhang to Computer Graphics

16 Jun 2017 - 09:56 in Achievement

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The School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) is delighted to welcome Dr Fanglue Zhang who has arrived from China to take up the position of computer graphics lecturer.

Fanglue holds a doctoral degree from Tsinghua University where he subsequently spent two years as a post-doctoral researcher. His research interests include computer graphics, computational photography, and image and video analysis and processing.

“Wellington is a great city with beautiful scenery and friendly people”, says Fanglue. “I hope I can make a valuable contribution to teaching and research at Victoria”.

Professor Neil Dodgson, Director of ECS’s computer graphics programme, is thrilled to welcome Fanglue to the team.

“Fanglue comes to us from the top university in China for science and engineering, and has been publishing in the best research journals for computer graphics for several years”, says Neil. “He brings complementary expertise to the research group and together we expect to do great things!”

Wellington scientists getting hybrid planes off the ground

26 Jun 2017 - 15:27 in Achievement

A team of Victoria University of Wellington researchers is hoping to use their technology to help build the world’s first hybrid-electric jet plane.

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Victoria’s Robinson Research Institute is an international leader in the field of superconductivity—a key mechanism needed to develop cleaner aviation technologies, says principal engineer and Deputy Director Dr Rod Badcock.

“Flying is the most climate-intensive form of transport and contributes hugely to global warming. Emissions from planes have grown by 75 percent since 1990, double the rate of other sectors of the economy. It’s important that a cleaner alternative is found—and fast.

“Electric vehicles have been around for a long time. However, electric planes pose a bigger challenge as they will require very high-power propulsion systems which are subject to stringent weight constraints. Existing electrical machines are simply too heavy.

“The only feasible approach is high-torque, high-speed machines that employ high temperature superconductors.”

The Institute’s international reputation for superconductor science and engineering has caught the eye of NASA and the United States Air Force, which are part of global efforts to develop the world’s first hybrid-electric jet plane.

Three researchers from the Institute have been invited to talk to a NASA special session in Wisconsin next month, about the development of electric aircraft using superconducting technology. Two members of the Institute have been part of the team working on NASA’s Electric Aircraft Technology Roadmap.

A hybrid-electric aircraft would increase aircraft fuel efficiency by more than 33 percent over today’s jet engines, by employing high-speed electric motors to drive aerodynamically optimised turbo-fans.

“We’d like to take our technology to the next step, and develop a motor for a Boeing 737-sized passenger plane. This will use an electric drive-train to connect high-speed electric motors with a fuel-powered generator running at maximum efficiency. A superconducting motor will deliver the all-important power-to-weight ratio,” says Dr Badcock.

“We have collaborations with experts in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan. We’re all using our knowledge and technology to make it a reality.”

Dr Badcock works at Victoria’s Lower Hutt-based Robinson Research Centre alongside a skilled team of engineers and applied physicists, which includes Drs Chris Bumby, Simon Granville, Zhenan Jiang and Stuart Wimbush.

The Institute’s work on high temperature superconductors has also led to a myriad of other potential applications, including high-speed trains, large wind generators, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems.

Helping to build the world’s first hybrid-electric jet plane would have a considerable impact on the New Zealand economy, says Dr Badcock.

“New Zealand depends on aviation. Whether we’re exporting high-value products to the world, or welcoming tourists to our shores, we rely on airlines to serve us. International restrictions on air travel would have a devastating effect.

“Furthermore, New Zealand must implement a step-change in fuel efficiency to maintain emission levels promised in the Paris Agreement—a 30 percent improvement in aircraft efficiencies is required by 2035. This would help protect our growing international tourism industry that brings $12 billion into the economy, and save New Zealand $276 million a year in fuel.

“Developing new, cleaner aviation technology is a demanding goal, but it offers potentially transformative outcomes for New Zealand. There are opportunities for local companies to contribute to and earn from this pressing global problem, including the growth of a new export market that manufactures specialised pieces of machinery.”

Victoria students vying for national title in IT Challenge

30 Jun 2017 - 10:27 in Achievement

In between studying and sitting exams, eight students are preparing to take on other tertiary students in the annual National MYOB IT Challenge in Auckland next week.

The students represent the two winning teams of the preliminary round at Victoria run by cloud-based business solution provider MYOB.

The preliminary competition for Victoria students in May gave teams five days to develop a technology solution to a real-world business problem. Each team then presented their solution and business plans to a panel of judges from MYOB and professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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L-R: Nanda, Liam, Mona and Adiraj

Team ‘Mind Me’ shared the top honours after impressing judges by developing a virtual reality assistant. The assistant is designed to help people navigate cloud-based accounting software by providing advice and answering questions from the software’s users.

‘Mind Me’ consists of third-year Engineering students Liam Dennis, Mona Ruan, Adiraj Gupta and Nanda Hibatullah.

Liam says the challenge demanded a range of skills including coding, business, marketing and presenting, in addition to their shared engineering background.

“You need to have a good skills across the board and everyone in the team was able to bring something different, like Mona for example, who was able to pitch the team’s concept to her employer as part of market validation.”

Liam and Adiraj are both also studying a Bachelor of Commerce and as well as contributing business knowledge, they had the extra advantage of being in the winning team of last year’s national competition.


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L-R: Nikkitesh, Dipen, Fatemah and Michael

The other winning team from Victoria ‘Team IV & CO’ comprises Bachelor of Commerce students Michael Kotlyar, Fatemeh Saleh and Nikkitesh Gurnani, and Software Engineering student Dipen Patel.

‘Team IV & CO’ secured their spot at the national final by designing an app called ‘MYOB Recruit’ that streamlines the recruitment process for small to medium businesses.

Michael says the app fills a gap in the market by being an “all-in-one app that organises finding the applicants, completing forms and finalising the contract”.

The app makes the hiring process easier, quicker and cheaper as businesses would no longer have to use multiple services.

Michael adds there’s still work to do ahead of nationals as they need to develop their prototype, refine their business plan and practise their presentation ahead of the finals.

Both teams are being flown to Auckland to compete in the national final against teams from University of Auckland, AUT and University of Canterbury, each hoping to pocket some of the $5,000 prize money.

Software hackathon hits NZ Cricket Museum’s challenges for six

15 Nov 2017 - 10:10 in Achievement

Software Development Masters students from the Wellington ICT Graduate School are on the way to solving the NZ Cricket Museum’s challenges after a two-day hackathon.

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Master of Software Development students visit the NZ Cricket Museum with Museum Director, Jamie Bell (below left), and work in teams to develop new tech ideas and solutions for the Museum.

If two heads are better than one when solving tricky problems, then 30 heads must surely be even better.

Over Thursday and Friday [November 9–10] the 30 Master of Software Development students, completing a one-year conversion Masters from the Wellington ICT Graduate School, teamed up to solve challenges put forward by the Wellington-based New Zealand Cricket Museum.

The two-day hackathon — essentially a brainstorming session to come up with new technology ideas and solutions — builds on the students’ learnings from their day-to-day studies.

“Hackathons allow students to use what they have just learned to solve real problems in innovative ways. They are given problems and then see how they can solve them using the skills and technologies they have learned”, says Dr Karsten Lundqvist, a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University.

During this hackathon students considered two main issues. Firstly, how to make static displays more dynamic by better linking the items back to the action that made them worth collecting, and also how to streamline the software museums use to manage their collections.

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How do we make static displays more dynamic? Masters students check out objects on display at the NZ Cricket Museum.

“These problems are common to all museums, not just us and not just small museums,” says the NZ Cricket Museum Director, Jamie Bell.

“Museums are about providing context and connection. With our collection being focused on something as dynamic as cricket, we want to find ways to improve the connection between an object that sits in a static museum display and the on-field action that made it worth collecting.

“For example, we have many cricket bats that were used in significant matches — like the one Grant Elliott used to hit New Zealand to a Cricket World Cup final. How do we recreate the hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck feeling from when that bat was used in that moment?”

Jamie also sought the developers’ help for when the items get collected and logged in the museum’s database.

“Most museums use one of three or four collection management systems, but they all have the same issue — they’re too complicated, especially for volunteers or novice students. With about 150 fields available in the software, where most museums will only use a small proportion of these, the breadth of information requested can be daunting.”

Photographs are also important, particularly in an increasingly digital world, Jamie says.

“We need to photograph our items to detail their condition and to make them available for researchers. We’re also increasingly moving our museum experience online so we want to make more of our items publicly accessible via our website.

“But there are currently too many steps between taking a photograph and uploading it. It’s time-consuming and clunky, so I asked the students to find a solution.

“I really like working with students, giving them an opportunity to develop their skills. I like their ability to think laterally,” Jamie says.

Mahuki, Te Papa’s innovation accelerator hub, sponsored the hackathon, which is a part of the students’ study programme. As well as nutritionally fuelling the students — a vital element in a hackathon — Mahuki’s representatives helped assess the viability of the teams’ concepts alongside Jamie Bell at the end of the second day.

After two days of working in teams, devising and designing ideas, the winners were announced.

The winners were team Crickmo, who developed a geo-location app to create an interactive mobile treasure hunt for fans at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.

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The winning team, Crickmo, accept their trophy from NZ Cricket Museum Director, Jamie Bell (above left) and pictured with Mahuki’s Outreach Coordinator, Sulu Fiti (below left). The Hackathon Champ trophy stands in full glory (right) while students present their final concepts to the judges.

Acting Director of the Wellington ICT Graduate School Susan Andersen congratulated the students on their hard work.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to build a Proof of Concept that can then grow into a start-up idea.

“This is where Mahuki can get involved, as afterwards the students can take what they have and apply to be part of the next Mahuki incubator programme, beginning in August 2018.”

NZ Cricket Museum Director Jamie Bell says he was impressed with the concepts and solutions the students put forward.

“All of the teams came up with unique solutions to the problems put to them. Some focused on a core element and developed a simple solution, others created an engaging experience related to the Museum, and some thought laterally to how a concept could fit our brief but develop into a product in its own right.

“It’s been great for the Museum to be part of this hackathon, following on from our burgeoning relationship with Mahuki and some of the teams there. The creativity and skillset these students have shown offers an exciting future for museums, heritage, and storytelling.”

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Our 12-month Master of Software Development (MSwDev) is open to anyone with a Bachelor’s degree. This conversion programme has been designed for people from non-information technology disciplines who want to become software developers.

Next intake for MSwDev is July 2018 — June 2019.

Applications for 2018 are open now. Book an advice session to find out more about the programmes we offer.

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