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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

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

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.”

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.”

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.”

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).

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).

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).

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