2014 Young Software Engineers

Friday 3rd October 2014
YSE Award winners l-r: Simone Conte, University of St Andrews; Blair Archibald, University of Glasgow; Heather Ellis, University of Dundee; Andrew White, University of Strathclyde

A University of Glasgow undergraduate lifts one of the coveted awards and highlights the calibre and talents of Scottish computing students at Dundee and Strathclyde.

A talented student from University of Glasgow has been named Young Software Engineer of the Year2014. Blair Archibald  (rigiht) won first prize for an exceptional project which provides a memory management system for the Java software programming language.

He was closely followed by Heather Ellis’s (left) project, from the University of Dundee, aimed at closing the communication gap between patients and clinicians.

Third place was won by Andrew White, from University of Strathclyde, for his projectabout Artificial Intelligence for games. The Lockheed Martin Software Engineered Project Award was given to Simone Conte, (rigiht) from University of St Andrews, for his work on a haptic device for graph exploration by people with visual disabilities. 

The Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards organised by ScotlandIS, the trade body for the digital technologies industry has just celebrated its 25th Anniversary this year and given to the best undergraduate software projects, drawn from across all students studying computer science and software engineering in Scotland. Each university nominates the best final year undergraduate software engineering project to be submitted. The Awards were presented at the ScotSoft 2014 dinner tonight.

CREATIVE PROJECTS MAKE LIFE EASIER
Many modern programming languages rely on automatic memory management systems, and determining the best parameters to achieve high performance is difficult. The system developed by Blair Archibald allows the memory management system to dynamically adjust its runtime parameters based on the application which is currently running, without requiring prior knowledge of this application. The system is economical with memory while still giving high performance, making it suitable for use with both mobile devices and cloud computing environments. Archibald received a  £2500 cheque from prize sponsor Sopra and the Young Software Engineer of the Year trophy given by ScotlandIS.

In order to manage and stabilise seizures a lot of data is required to analyse the current state of the patient and this volume makes it hard to spot trends. In a nine-month project, Heather Ellis explored a proof of concept mobile application for seizure management, in SeizurePad.  Following an iterative process, she worked with potential end users to design, develop and test the application. The results demonstrated how SeizurePad improves the communication between clinicians and caregivers. Ellis received a cheque for £2000 from sponsor BCS, and a trophy from ScotlandIS. 

For his project, Andrew White developed an algorithm to improve the user experience of two-player abstract strategy games.AI ( Artificial Intelligence) opponents are frequently used in this kind of games, although these opponents are generally either very easy or very hard, and they tend not to adapt to meet the needs of the users. The algorithm, based on MCTS (Monte-Carlo Tree Search), rates the AI’s opponent moves and adjusts the perceived skills. Then, it performs a second MCTS to gauge the value of the AI’s available moves and select one to match the opponent. The results showed how AI can help the game become more enjoyable. White received a cheque for £1500 from third prize sponsor SAS, and a trophy from ScotlandIS. 

The project developed by Simone Conte was aimed at creating a simple and inexpensive device that would enable people with visual disabilities to access all kinds of technologies, such as smart phones and the Internet. HaptiQ is based on multiple physical actuators that can provide haptic feedback to a user holding it in her hand. The device can represent the presence of objects in space, but also directions as to where other objects are, and the connections between objects.

It included the creation of the drivers and an API that would allow other programmers to create applications for this device. Conte  received a cheque for £1500 from sponsor Lockheed Martin, and his university, St Andrews, received the Lockheed Martin Software Engineered Project trophy. 

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