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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.

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.”

Local start-up’s valuable Victoria connections

22 Jun 2017 - 13:10 in Alumni

A local start-up is praising Victoria University of Wellington’s Software Engineering programme for delivering hard-to-find job candidates.

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L-R: Victoria University alumni Stephen Nelson, Tim Jones and Luke Inkster at Montoux.

Montoux offers software that provides insights into life insurance companies’ products, pricing and profitability. The fast-growing Wellington-based business has clients in New Zealand and Australia.

Dr Stephen Nelson was hired at Montoux as a software engineer fresh after his graduation from Victoria in 2012.

Stephen completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours, and a PhD in Computer Science.

“When I was job hunting I had a few different offers but decided on Montoux because it was a start-up. That was attractive to me,” he says.

Stephen joined co-founder Gert Verhoog and fellow Victoria alumni Simon Doherty in a small office in Lyall Bay. Montoux’s development team has since grown to eight developers and the team has moved to the central city.

“At the start, it was really an idea. Gert had developed a prototype that they wanted to turn into a product. I spent my first six months creating a web platform that was useable for non-technical people,” says Stephen.

“I’m a full stack developer, which is a relatively rare role in New Zealand. I really like that my job is varied and I get to work on pretty much everything. And now working as team leader I get to contribute even more.”

Stephen isn’t the only Victoria alumni at Montoux. The company currently employs four graduates and one former postdoctoral researcher from Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science. Another three alumni have moved onto other positions elsewhere.

Montoux is now starting an office in New York, and hiring a software engineer/data scientist to be based there.

“Our connection to the University is very valuable to us. We've employed quite a few Victoria graduates—all positive experiences,” says Gert.

“We hire senior software engineers because of the complexity of the work that we do and technology we work on. It seems to be a big jump from having an undergraduate degree to working on our large systems. This says a lot about the calibre of Victoria graduates.”

This is why Montoux, similarly to companies like Google and Facebook, often hires candidates with postgraduate education.

“The skills students gain through research is important—we apply a lot of research and theory to the problems we solve,” says Stephen. “Our employees learn a lot on the job, whether it’s programming languages or tools.”

Victoria graduates Tim Jones and Luke Inkster agree. They were both hired as software engineers at Montoux in early 2017.

“I’m enjoying the opportunity to be part of a company that’s doing cool things, in an environment that means your work is thorough and has to be constantly critiqued,” says Tim, who is in the process of completing his PhD in Software Engineering.

Luke, who previously worked at Xero, says he really liked the idea of working at a start-up.

“It’s interesting to build things from scratch and to be involved in the development of processes. At this point I still only know a tiny chunk of what the whole company is learning—you really have to apply yourself at Montoux. It’s great.”

Victoria University is home to one of the leading programming languages research groups in the Southern Hemisphere.

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!”

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

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

Postdoctoral Research Fellow vacancy in e-Learning

26 Apr 2017 - 10:25 in Administrative

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The School of Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand's top ranked research University is seeking to expand its engineering programme. We are a School that prides itself on its collegiality and multidisciplinary collaborations with many of New Zealand's top ranked research clusters. This is an opportunity for you to develop your career at a quality institution in one of the most liveable cities in the world.

We are looking to recruit a Postdoctoral Fellow for a two year fixed term position to provide research support as a member of the newly established e-Learning Research Group within the School of Engineering and Computer Science. The Postdoctoral Fellow will conduct high quality research and develop tools for engaging Māori and Pasifika computer science teaching and learning. New Zealand schools are currently being encouraged to teach computer science topics as part of the curriculum. There is a lack of Māori and Pasifika material in this area and it is expected that the Postdoctoral Fellow will help in the development of engaging and supportive e-Learning tools (ranging from full courses to individual tools) based on Māori and Pasifika cultural concepts.

Preference will be given to candidates with a strong computer science background, particularly in e-Learning who can demonstrate an understanding of te reo Māori me ona tikanga.

Minimum Requirements:

• A PhD in computer science or related discipline such as e-Learning, graphics, games development and/or programming languages will be preferred  
• Proven research and publication track record within areas e-Learning, graphics, games development and/or programming languages over the last five years  
• Excellent written and oral communications skills in English.  
• Demonstrates strong interpersonal skills especially across cultures

For further information on the position contact: Dr Karsten Lundqvist, School of Engineering and Computer Science, at:
karsten.lundqvist@ecs.vuw.ac.nz / Tel : +64 4 463 5233 ext 8018.

Please do not send applications to this email address.

Applications close on Thursday, 18 May 2017.

For more information and to apply online visit http://www.victoria.ac.nz/about/careers/

Victoria University of Wellington is an EEO employer and actively seeks to meet its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.

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.

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

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