2015 Software names to watch

Friday 18th September 2015
A triumphant quartet of talented 2015 software engineers

Young Software Engineer of the Year 2015 Peeter Parna, Abertay University wins first prize for combining fluid dynamics, gaming and advanced programming and is the first student from Abertay to won the award. Marija Pinkute, who won second place (and Stem model status) studies at University of Edinburgh whose project is aimed at the automatic generation of Tweet messages for news articles. Third place was won by Damien Anderson, University of Strathclyde, for generalised Video Game playing and Lockheed Martin Software Engineering Project Award goes to Archibald ‘Sam’ Elliot, University of St Andrews, for developing a concurrency system for Idris compiler and Erlang backend.

Now in its 26th year, The Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards, are given to the best undergraduate software projects, drawn from across all students studying computer science and software engineering in Scotland.  

Each university submits the best final year undergraduate software engineering project from amongst their students and the winning names are ones clever employers keep an eye on.

The Awards are organised by  the trade body for the digital technologies industry ScotlandIS, and presented at the ScotSoft2015 dinner for more than 600 guests from across the industry.

Brilliant minds in science and programming

Peeter Parna combined his fascination with fluid dynamics and his interest in gaming in hisproject. His research involved GPU programming and investigating methods for liquid simulation with real-time applications. Using complex mathematics and parallel processing Peeter concluded that physically based liquid simulation on GPUs is feasible for interactive applications, such as computer games, if and if only care is taken with the stability of the simulation methods.

Born in Estonia Peeter Parna moved to Scotland for his Bachelor’s degree. Torn between theoretical physics and IT, he mentioned this to a  group of friends over the internet, with whom he played online games. One  from Dundee mentioned the Abertay game programming courses. He decided to fly over to check out the university and was so impressed he opted for their Computer Games Technology course.

This project was considered to be exceptional by the judges.  Parma received a cheque for £2500 from prize sponsor Sopra Steria, and the Young Software Engineer of the Year trophy given by ScotlandIS.

Young STEM model

Marija Pinkute’s project is to aimed to automatically generate summary tweet messages from news articles. Going further than current title and caption generation systems, her model takes an article, selects the most important pieces of information,  combines these together to produce a more complete subject of 140 characters.

Pinkute is a University of Edinburgh student about to receive a First Class Masters of Informatics (MInf) with Honours degree. Marija lived and studied in four different countries before completing the International Diploma Programme in her homeland Lithuania. She entered directly into the second year of Computer Science (BSc) at the University of Edinburgh. After two years, she switched to the MInf degree. Her academic interests lie in Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Software Engineering.  Pinkute received a cheque for £2000 from sponsor BCS, and a trophy from ScotlandIS.

AI approach to problems 

Damien Anderson researched one of the challenges of AI (Artificial Intelligence)  the ability for an intelligent agent to solve multiple and different problems. AI works well where the constraints of a problem are known but less well in unknown scenarios. Using video games as a test base, Damien sought to identify how moving beyond Monte Carlo tree theory one could successfully programme intelligent agents to respond well in evolving situations where all  parameters are not predetermined.  As humans are exceptionally good at responding to unknown situations, Damien developed a model that mimicked human interactions in similar circumstances.

Damien enrolled on a course in Digital Media, which led to an HND in Software Development at Central College of Glasgow. Originally intending to pursue a career in video games, he decided instead to study for a Software Engineering degree at Strathclyde University. During the third year of his course Damien was introduced to the theory and application of AI. He won a year’s industrial placement at CERN creating machine protection software for particle accelerators, which he says was a fantastic experience. Damien received a cheque for £1500 from third prize sponsor FanDuel, and a trophy from ScotlandIS.

Industrial concurrent programming language

The project developed by Archibald ‘Sam’ Elliot takes an important step towards addressing the problem of writing large scale software. It combines Idris, a new programming language developed at the University of St Andrews, with Erlang, a programming language designed for building robust distributed systems, creating a system for running programs in a robust, industrial strength, concurrent environment.

Sam  just graduated from the University of St Andrews, has been studying Computer Science. Next, he will  start a PhD at the University of Washington, Seattle, pursuing ideas in this area. Born and brought up in Edinburgh, he now lives on a farm in the Scottish Borders. After finishing school in 2009, he briefly worked for a timber engineering firm in Germany, returning to the UK and moving into software development.  Sam received a cheque for £1500 from sponsor Lockheed Martin, and his university, St Andrews, received the Lockheed Martin Software Engineering Project trophy.

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