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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.”

nzcricketmuseum.co.nz

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.

A summer to remember: Welcoming our ECS Summer Scholars

14 Nov 2017 - 09:48 in Research

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Students from the School of Engineering and Computer Science will spend the summer working alongside globally-recognised researchers gaining valuable experience in research through Victoria’s Summer Scholars Scheme.

Students are selected for the Scheme based on their academic results, experience in the research area and recommendations from the staff who propose the research projects.

The projects represent a unique opportunity for external organisations, academics and students to work together in research. This year students will be supporting research projects ranging from surveying recent graduates and validating Fitbits to developing an automated inventory tracker for ambulances and finding ways to use virtual reality to assist in healthcare education.

Professor Neil Dodgson, who will be supervising one of the summer projects, says that the Scheme will take students to new and exciting places.

“Research provides our students an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned as undergraduates to work at the cutting edge of knowledge”, he says.

Students will gain a variety of skills, including practical programming experience, data collection and analysis, writing literature reviews, interviewing techniques, learning to use specialised software, and acquiring specialist skills in the laboratory. But what’s more important, says Professor Dodgson, is learning to take a flexible attitude.

“It is a vital step in growing up to realise that there is more to life than just assimilating knowledge and skills that others have: there are places you can go where things are truly new and unknown.

“The nature of research means that successful Summer Scholars need to be adaptable and ask lots of questions of everyone around them,” says Professor Dodgson. “You never know who is going to provide the nugget of knowledge that helps you crack the problem.”

Victoria University awards up to 115 internally-funded Summer Research scholarships and around 150 externally-funded projects over the summer trimester.

Information about 2018/2019 Summer Scholar applications will be available in 2018.

School of Engineering and Computer Science Summer Scholars 2017/18

Brendan Julian
Survey & Interviews of Recent ECS Graduates
Chelsea Miller
Pilot Contamination in 5G Massive MIMO Systems
Benjamin Evans
Evolutionary Machine Learning and Data Mining
Ryan Curry
Study of Industrial IoT applications and use cases in NZ
Arora Hrshikesh
Adam Towel usability
Mansour Javaher
QoS-aware Web Service Location Allocation
Tao Shi
QoS-aware Web Service Location Allocation
Kathleen Griffin
Automated training of orchestral conducting
Daniel Forbes
Validating Fitbits
Shaun Swan
Microfluidic testbed for plasmonic sensors
Samuel Devese
Lead-free ferroelectrics for tunable capacitors, acoustic transducers and data storage
Benjamin Selwyn-Smith
Virtual Reality Simulation for Healthcare Education
Jordan MacLachlan
Evolutionary machine learning for dynamic vehicle routing problem
Luke Johnson
Evolutionary Feature Selection and Dimensionality Reduction for Large-Scale Classification
Ching Ke
Physiological signal processing
Ikram Singh
Electrical Standards MSL Software and Measurement Systems
Hamish Gibb
Electrical Standards MSL Software and Measurement Systems
Aran Warren
Developing a Motion Sensor
Julian Schurhammer
An automated ambulance critical inventory tracking and alerting system
Janice Chin
Harmonic Scale Development
Dipenenkumar Patel
Analytics Harbour Development
Jonathan Carr
TrafficVis: Visualizing Network Traffic Resilience
Daniel Braithwaite
Transport Network Resilience Proof of Concept
Li Li
Transport Network Resilience Proof of Concept
James Miller
Real time video stitching for live 360 video VR streaming

New Administrator: Introducing Monoa Taepa to ECS

07 Nov 2017 - 10:49 in Research

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Tēnā koutou katoa

Ko Te Arawa, ko Te Ātiawa, ko Ngāti Kahungunu, ko Kōtarani, ko Ngāti Whātua, ko Te Rarawa, ko Te Ātihaunui a Pāpārangi ōku iwi

Ko Hōhepa Taepa, ko Laura Black, ko Aperahama Paraone Kena, ko Meri Mare, ko Keita Te Hira ōku tūpuna

Ko Hōhepa rāua ko Makere ōku mātua

Ko Aperahama Hōhepa tōku tungāne

Ko Kuraimonoa Taepa tōku ingoa

Born in? Ōtaki.

Lived in? Ōtaki, Peka Peka, Waikanae, Timberlea, Kohimarama, Sandringham, Manurewa, Papatoetoe, Wellington.

First job? Chicken, liver and giblet packer at Golden Coast Poultry in Te Horo.

Position at VUW? Administrator.

Where can people find you at VUW? CO343.

Why Wellington? Close to whānau.

Favourite movies? This Way of Life, Peaceful Warrior, Avatar, Inside Out.

Favourite musicians? Maisey Rika and Kenny Dale.

Favourite foods? Mum’s: tītī (mutton bird) with watercress, kumara and pumpkin; lambs fry and bacon with mashed potato and veges.

Affirmation to live by? “All is well in my world” (Louise Hay).

Teaching Fellow: Introducing Kerese Manueli to ECS

02 Nov 2017 - 09:37 in Research

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Name? Kerese Manueli.

Born in? Rotuma, Fiji.

Lived in? Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.

First job? IT/Helpdesk support.

Position at VUW? Teaching Fellow.

Key research interests? ICT for sustainable development.

Most looking forward to at VUW? Supporting students at XMUT/VUW to achieve their academic aspirations.

Where can people find you at VUW? Office EA104.

Why Wellington? It’s got a good blend of nature and urban planning.

Favourite musician? Bob Marley.

Quote to live by? “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school” (Albert Einstein).

An energy for energy: Welcoming Daniel Burmester back to ECS

25 Oct 2017 - 10:30 in Research

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We are delighted to announce that a former PhD student with a passion for renewable energy has returned to the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) as a lecturer in exactly that subject.

After studying Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering at undergraduate level, Daniel Burmester also completed his doctorate in Renewable Energy Systems at ECS under supervisor Dr Ramesh Rayudu. Renewable energy is energy from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power.

While he’s always had a passion for electronics, Daniel’s PhD research focused on creating residential renewable energy systems with the aim of making renewable energy financially viable for homeowners. Now he even lives off the grid with just solar power - and wants to lead the fight against climate change for his daughter’s generation.

“In New Zealand, selling power back to the grid is not economical”, Daniel says. “But if we can break it down to deliver a system that saves people money within a reasonable time frame, it will be an incentive for people to switch to carbon-neutral options to run their homes”.

Daniel credits being awarded a summer scholarship project in his third year with igniting his passion for all things renewable energy, as it was then that his ethics and research interests aligned for the first time, changing the whole focus of his studies.

“The project was to install a micro wind turbine at Victoria - and I enjoyed delving deeper into the subject later when I was awarded a Victoria Doctoral Scholarship to do my PhD”, Daniel says. “Most people know about climate change, but they feel like they can’t make a difference on an individual level.

“To get value for money from a solar installation, the best bet for a homeowner is to use as much of their produced power as possible. The system I worked on shifts around background household appliances to make the most of solar power being produced throughout the day, and to reduce the grid power consumed.”

Daniel later decided he would like to return as a lecturer to continue his research and pass on the knowledge he gained during his PhD, especially as renewable energy is advancing so quickly. There is now the opportunity to reduce New Zealand’s carbon footprint and reduce the power bill for the average home owner at the same time.

“There is just so much happening and so many research avenues in renewable energy”, says Daniel. “In just my first week in my new position I went to Opotiki to discuss solar energy options with local Iwi.

“I’m excited to be involved in research which has a positive effect on New Zealand’s environment and communities, and I’m also passionate about ensuring ECS students continue to have the same great opportunities I did.”

New Zealand superconductor-based magnets to support neuroscience research

12 Oct 2017 - 12:35 in Research

Victoria University ’s Robinson Research Institute is part of an international project awarded funding to build a smaller and more mobile MRI system that will support neurological research.

The project, led by the internationally acclaimed Centre for Magnetic Resonance Research at the University of Minnesota Medical School, has received $(US)10.8 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health in the United States to help develop the system, which will be ready for clinical trials by 2021.

Researchers at the Robinson Research Institute, based in the Faculty of Engineering, are recognised worldwide as pioneers and leaders in high temperature superconductivity (HTS) research. This technology will form a critical part of a key aspect of the project—removing the need for liquid helium in MRI machines and thereby reducing the energy and space needs of the machines.

The Robinson Research Institute will receive $(US)1.7 million of the total funding, in recognition of the huge potential the system holds for increasing our understanding of the functioning of the human brain.

Ben Parkinson, senior engineer at the Robinson Research Institute, says: “By using our high-temperature superconductor magnet technology in combination with technology from our collaborators at University of Minnesota, Columbia, Yale, and University of Sao Paulo, we’re building a brain imaging MRI system that is more like a motorcycle helmet. It fits over the subject’s head, allowing them to sit comfortably with a normal field of view during the MRI exam, yet it can just be plugged into the wall and use a normal power supply.”

He says the challenge with current MRI systems is that they require a great deal of infrastructure and resources to build, operate and maintain.

“The standard MRI machine you see in a hospital requires 1,700 litres of liquid helium to keep the magnet at a low enough temperature to work and produce high quality images,” says Mr Parkinson

“This creates a number of challenges—a lot of infrastructure, energy and space is required to run the machine. In addition, liquid helium is also not only expensive, but in short supply, so we need to look for alternatives.

“An MRI machine is one of the best tools currently available to study neurology. However they put the patient in an unnatural and confined space, where they can’t respond to stimuli in a normal way, and the range of activities they can perform is very limited.”

New digital media centre one of first recipients of Government’s Entrepreneurial Universities funding

22 Sep 2017 - 13:12 in Research

A leading member of Japan’s digital media industry is joining Victoria University of Wellington as Director of a new Computational Media Innovation Centre (CMIC).

The Centre will be based in Victoria’s Faculty of Engineering and was today announced by Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Hon Paul Goldsmith as one of the first three recipients of funding from the Government’s $35 million Entrepreneurial Universities initiative.

The initiative aims to attract world-leading entrepreneurial academics to New Zealand in order to foster cutting-edge research and university-led innovation and entrepreneurship.

CMIC Director Professor Ken Anjyo set up and headed the research and development (R&D) division of OLM Digital, the Tokyo production company famous for the Pokémon movies, as well as for 3D animated feature films.

Professor Anjyo later became the company’s Chief Technology Officer and is now its executive Research and Development adviser. He has contributed to Japan’s digital media industry for many years, including between 2009 and 2014 as a technical committee member of the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association, the largest association of Japanese game companies. He is a board member of VFX-JAPAN, the Japanese association of domestic digital production companies, and a member of the Visual Effects Society in the United States.

Professor Mike Wilson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering, says Victoria’s successful application for Entrepreneurial Universities funding and ability to attract an industry figure of Professor Anjyo’s standing are an endorsement of the entrepreneurial spirit already at large at Victoria and of the ground-breaking research into innovative digital media taking place at the University.

“Professor Anjyo will be heading a team that includes some of our many stars in this field, including as Deputy Director Associate Professor Taehyun Rhee,” says Professor Wilson.

“Associate Professor Rhee himself came to us from a strong industry background, at Samsung, and has been conducting pioneering virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) research that just last week received $1 million for one of its projects from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s latest Endeavour Fund science investment round.”

CMIC will incubate potential startups and industry pipelines to strengthen New Zealand’s computing and media ecosystem, placing it at the forefront of an emerging global digital media market, says Professor Anjyo.

It aims to develop extensive links with a variety of renowned gaming and anime companies and institutes in Japan, the United States and elsewhere, he says.

“Although creativity and artistic skills for creating digital media are important, the core research activities for providing competitive media are based on scientific efforts, including new algorithms, computational models, simulation methods based on computer science, computer vision and computer graphics.

“The Computational Media in our Centre’s name emphasises computing’s significant role in communications and its expression in digital media.

“We will conduct fundamental research in computational science, including computer graphics, computer vision, machine learning and applied mathematics, in response to industry needs. We will apply our research to new and existing digital media technologies. And we will ensure technology transfer from research to industry to strengthen New Zealand’s capability in interactive media such as virtual reality/augmented reality, as well as films and computer games.”

Also joining CMIC, as Executive Adviser, is James Foley, internationally respected as a computer science and graphics pioneer, and Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States.

In 2007, Professor Foley received a lifetime achievement award from the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, with his citation saying: “It is difficult to think of anyone who had a larger role in the institutionalisation of HCI [human-computer interaction] as a discipline.”

He is a member of the United States National Academy of Engineering; a former chairman of the Computing Research Association, an organisation of more than 200 computer science and computer engineering university departments, professional societies and industrial research laboratories; and a former chairman and chief executive of the Mitsubishi Electric Information Technology Center America, where he led corporate research and development across four laboratories.

The programme to establish Victoria’s Computational Media Innovation Centre will begin in January 2018, with the Centre opening in June 2018.

It will complement the activities of the recently launched Victoria University of Wellington Miramar Creative Centre, which offers students the opportunity to gain unprecedented insights into the inner workings of the creative industries and interact with world-leading practitioners in the heart of Wellington’s film and digital media industry.

Together, the Centres confirm ‘Spearheading our digital futures’ and ‘Cultivating creative capital’ as two of Victoria’s areas of academic strength and distinctiveness.

New $29 million funding fuels hybrid-electric jet engine and other research projects

14 Sep 2017 - 09:05 in Research

Development of technology to help build the world’s first hybrid-electric passenger jet plane is among Victoria University of Wellington projects to receive nearly $29 million in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's 2017 Endeavour Fund.

Five Victoria projects have been successful in this year’s science investment round, announced this morning by Science and Innovation Minister Hon Paul Goldsmith.

Dr Rod Badcock from Victoria’s Robinson Research Institute is leading the jet plane project, which was awarded $6.3 million over five years.

The Institute is an international leader in the field of superconductivity—a key mechanism needed to develop cleaner aviation technologies, says Dr Badcock.

“Electric planes pose a big 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.

“We’re planning to 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.

Dr Badcock and his team will collaborate with experts in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan. “Flying is the most climate-intensive form of transport,” he says. “It’s important that a clean alternative is found—and fast. It would have a huge economic impact not only for New Zealand but around the world.”

Professor Colin Wilson from Victoria’s School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences is leading an $8.2 million five-year multi-institution consortium programme that aims to reduce the uncertainty around future supervolcano eruptions.

“Unlike normal-sized volcano systems, the behaviour, impacts and probabilities of supervolcano eruptions remain poorly understood around the world,” says Professor Wilson.

“Global hype assumes any activity at a supervolcano will lead to catastrophe—however, history and the geological record shows that their impacts can be managed. Our project will develop a new framework for estimating the size, timing and impacts of future unrest or eruptive events, and provide resources to improve education, resilience and decision-making for our communities.”

Dr Simon Hinkley from Victoria’s Ferrier Research Institute is leading a team that has been awarded $6.2 million over five years to generate new compounds for use in products that accelerate bone and tissue repair.

“Current therapies have undesirable side effects, low efficacy, high cost, low biological stability and dubious overall benefit,” explains Dr Hinkley.

“Our project will explore the use of complex sugars called heparan sulfates in producing more effective and rapid tissue regeneration. Heparan sulfate has been shown to be an essential ‘match-maker’ in coordinating growth factors that mediate the repair processes. With our partners at the University of Otago and in Singapore, we will build on our current research activities to develop materials that assist in tissue repair processes.”

Professor Tim Naish from Victoria’s Antarctic Research Centre is leading a project that will receive $7.1 million over five years to develop a national set of sea-level rise estimates.

Professor Naish says there is currently a number of knowledge gaps that are hampering our ability to anticipate and manage future sea-level rise in New Zealand—including a lack of understanding of the influence of vertical land movements and changes in sea-surface height.

“A team of leading experts will aim to address these knowledge gaps, and to generate a set of probabilistic sea-level rise scenarios. This will improve our assessment of the physical impacts and risks of increased coastal flooding and rising groundwater levels.”

In addition to the four successfully funded research programmes, Associate Professor Taehyun Rhee from Victoria’s Faculty of Engineering has been awarded Smart Ideas funding worth $1 million.

This three-year project will examine how to capture real-world lighting and reflections in augmented and mixed reality applications.

“Generating realistic representations of the world is essential for the visual effects industry to seamlessly blend virtual objects with real ones—but doing this accurately is very challenging,” says Associate Professor Rhee.

“We propose a novel method of automatically producing real-world lighting using what is called image-space analysis. Our project will ensure far more realistic visual output in immersive augmented and mixed reality and will vastly improve the visual quality for interactive applications including computer games, virtual simulation and training.”

Victoria’s performance in this year’s Endeavour Fund represents 12 percent of the total $248 million awarded to 68 projects from 17 universities, research institutes and other organisations.

“This is a stunning result for Victoria and testament to the quality of our science and technology at New Zealand’s number one-ranked university for research excellence,” says Professor Mike Wilson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science.

Professor Kate McGrath, Vice-Provost (Research), says the result reflects the exceptional leadership of Victoria's researchers in the scholarly community and beyond.

“Our researchers are utilising an expanding base of fundamental science and engineering to create valuable solutions to global problems and to boost high-value manufacturing in New Zealand.”

More information on the 2017 Endeavour Fund can be found at: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/science-innovation/investment-funding/current-funding/2017-endeavour-round

Victoria students compete at New Zealand Cyber Security Challenge

02 Aug 2017 - 08:18 in Event

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L-R: Liam Dennis, Jack Moran and Tom Clark

Three students from Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science recently travelled to Hamilton to compete in the 2017 New Zealand Cyber Security Challenge.

The challenge saw 150 top students from around the country invited to compete in three stages—hacking into programs, grappling with policy-based problems, and securing at risk systems.

Third-year Software Engineering student, Liam Dennis, says the event was a valuable opportunity to gain some hands-on training.

“Cyber Security is a fascinating topic, and being part of a team and working together to solve problems and crack codes was rewarding and satisfying, especially in the moments when our toil proved fruitful and we completed a stage.”

Also competing at the event were Network Engineering students, Jack Moran and Tom Clark, who both plan to work in the Cyber Security industry after graduating.

Tom says, “The whole event was great, but the last round of war games with 5 teams defending their systems against industry testers was awesome to see. It’s definitely an industry I want to be in. I'm aiming to do ‘Red Teaming’, and even create new security products to help secure private and public systems.”

Jack adds, “What we’ve learnt at Victoria, about networks, security, and programming languages gave us the skills we needed to compete in the challenges. Cyber Security is a really interesting area; one of my passions is finding flaws in the technology we rely on every day and demonstrating the potential that they have to damage our infrastructure.”

Head of School, Dr Stuart Marshall, says Cyber Security is an area of rapidly increasing interest and potential for students.

“Recent reports have estimated a shortfall of more than a million trained cyber security experts in the coming years. That’s a significant challenge for the world as we become more connected and the internet of things becomes ever more present there is a need to protect those systems, and that information.

“We teach Cyber Security throughout our degrees, and we’re looking at ways to increase that further to ensure that our students are well placed to take up those opportunities when they graduate.”

The event had high-profile guests, including Andrew Hampton, Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, who spoke to the students about the rising demand for students with cyber security skills, and representatives from Interpol, the world’s largest international police organisation with 190 member countries.

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.

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