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Engineering students win Hackfest with firefighting robot

18 Sep 2014 - 11:27 in Achievement

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Cameron Shuker and Steve Richardson

Victoria University Engineering students, Steve Richardson and Cameron Shuker, took out the top prize in the first Summer of Tech mechatronics Hackfest in Wellington last weekend.

The Hackfest was one of several events in the Summer of Tech internship programme which connects students with local technology companies.

This year Grow Wellington has extended the programme to manufacturing companies looking to incorporate technology into their products.

Thirteen Victoria University students set out to impress potential employers with their robot wizardry skills at last Saturday's Hackfest. The students were given seven hours to complete their work. Their robots had to be able to navigate an area and identify a heat source or fire. Some teams connected their robots to social media so they were able to tweet about their progress.

Steve Richardson says he was delighted to win the event. "It was a close call. All of the teams were given the same components but our robot was the only one that used an LCD display."

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A robot on its mission at the
Summer of Tech Hackfest

The winning team was not disadvantaged by having two members compared to three for the other teams, "Cameron and I have worked together before, so we weren't worreid about giving each other criticism and this helped us."

Summer of Tech is an internship programme which connects students with local technology campanies. This year Grow Wellington has extended the programme to manufacturing companies looking to incorporate technology into their products.

Through the programme, companies obtain student interns for 10 weeks between November and February. Prospective students take part in CV clinics, site visits, hackfests and boot camps throughout the years to prepare them for future employment.

Since it began in 2006, Summer of Tech has facilitated 357 paid internships. The programme is supported by Grow Wellington, Wellington City Council and technology companies.

For further information go to: http://www.summeroftech.co.nz

Callaghan Innovation Postgrad Internship: Software Engineer

10 Sep 2014 - 09:48 in Research

This Callaghan Innovation R&D Career 2014 position is for a recent graduate of a postgraduate program. The position is fixed term and for a duration of six months but with the possibility of extension to a permanent contract.

Magritek specializes in providing compact NMR and MRI systems for industrial and educational customers around the world. The present R&D focus is the development of compact low field NMR spectroscopy systems for chemistry education, industrial chemical processing and pharmaceutical markets. The product development work we are undertaking involves several technical disciplines including electronic, software, mechanical, magnet and chemical engineering. Our products consist of electronic hardware with embedded systems that interact with an application running on a users computer.

We are developing a new software control system for a new hardware platform to be used in upgrades of existing and new NMR related products. The new embedded ARM based hardware platform will use LINUX and will typically be controlled using an Ethernet port or WIFI. In order to simplify the development for the new NMR products we intend to create one or more custom high level languages that will be used to design experiments and NMR pulse sequences. The custom languages will generate LLVM IR output. This LLVM IR can be optimized for specific CPU's, like ARM or a custom FPGA based softcore processor. The task and challenge is to create a language and an associated debugging tool to debug code on a remotely connected system. The compiler and debugging tool shall run on Windows.

Magritek has an established team of world leading scientists and engineers and this is also bolstered by our collaboration with staff at Victoria University of Wellington. This position will provide someone with the unique opportunity of developing in these areas:
1. interacting with a diverse technical team that has a commercial focus.
2. undertaking leading edge research and development
3. working on a real project that will end up with customers
4. working within an environment will real commercial pressure
5. presentation and report writing

The skills that the applicant must have are C++, Linux, LLVM and compiler development. Additional skills such as C#, ANTLR and knowledge of ARM processors would be desired but are not essential.

The applicant must also have recently graduated with a Masters or PhD in computer science or software engineering or equivalent.
For eligibility criteria, please go to https://www.callaghaninnovation.govt.nz/what-we-do/funding-and-grants/rd-student-grants

Application procedures

Please email CV and cover letter to: Robin@magritek.com
Please also include a copy of your academic transcript and two referees.

Closes: 2 Dec, 2014

Commences: 1 February 2015

Type: Contract Remuneration:$60,000 per annum pro-rata

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Website: http://www.magritek.com/

Program: Graduate recruitment program

Contact details

Mr Robin Dykstra
Ph: 04 920 7671
Email: robin@magritek.com

Summer of Tech

21 Aug 2014 - 10:32 in Event

Summer of Tech is a very successful student internship programme for those studying for a technology-related career. Launched in 2006 and now in its eighth year of operation the award-winning programme helps businesses source top talent from local tertiary institutions while giving students valuable real-world industry experience. The programme includes a series of bootcamps and industry-led skills development workshops to help bridge the gap between industry needs and educational development.

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The programme has helped Wellington employers source top local talent while easing the move from study to industry for hundreds of tech students.

Employers and technical experts deliver bootcamps, which are practical workshops that enable students to use technologies that are in demand in the local workforce. Bootcamps and exposure to employers during their tertiary years really kick starts their careers.

Summer of Tech culminates in paid summer internships, but its success can be measured by what happens after the internships: 2 out of 3 Summer of Tech students get on-hired, retained by their host company in a full or part-time capacity, or employed by another company in the

Since 2006, Summer of Tech has created over 300 IT jobs in Wellington, enabling NZ companies to invest in, and hire top local talent. Employers tell us the programme has become their go-to place to recruit graduates, and it’s an especially good way to find female programmers – who they’ve found rarely apply for developer roles.

The goals of the programme are to keep building the talent pipeline for NZ ICT companies, connecting local employers to local students, showing both sides of the equation that there are fantastic candidates and fantastic careers in ICT available in New Zealand.


During the summer, their Seminar Series gives interns and students who were unsuccessful getting an internship the opportunity to get connected, inspired and informed, through lunchtime learning and networking sessions. They have over 200 unique attendees at seminars every year, about half of which are students, with the other half being professionals.

For further information go to: http://www.summeroftech.co.nz

Software Defined Networking Masters Scholarship

14 Aug 2014 - 22:52 in Research

A fully funded Masters scholarship position in Software Defined Networking (SDN).

SDN is a new networking technology, which greatly improves network programmability, that is changing how we design, build and operate networks. In this project, we will investigate the practical issues on the adoption of SDN in production networks. It is a great opportunity to work with SDN communities both locally and internationally.

Value of award: Up to $20,000 + tuition fees
Tenure: One year

Essential criteria:
*Strong programming skills in C/C++ or Java.
*Strong motivation for developing practical networking solutions

Contact person: Dr. Qiang Fu, qiang.fu@ecs.vuw.ac.nz

Distinguished Paper Award

09 Aug 2014 - 18:52 in Achievement

Congratulations to Dr Alex Potanin from the School of Engineering and Computer Science who was one of the authors that won a Distinguished Paper Award at the European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming (ECOOP) 2014.

The paper was entitled "Safely Composable Type-Specific Languages" and resulted from the work that Dr Alex Potanin performed while on research and study leave at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA in 2013.

The work describes a novel technique to utilise the expected type of a language expression to select a parser for it, enabling multiple, potentially conflicting domain-specific languages to be combined safely in a single language.

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The authors on the photo left to right are: Benjamin Chung, Cyrus Omar, Jonathan Aldrich, and Alex Potanin - all the other authors are based at Carnegie Mellon University.

Alex belongs to the Software Engineering and Programming Languages research group at the School of Engineering and Computer Science: Alex.Potanin@ecs.vuw.ac.nz

Winternz - Open For Applications

28 Jul 2014 - 20:51 in Event

The Winternz program brings New Zealand undergraduate students to Silicon Valley for 12-week internships over the New Zealand summer.

Micah Cinco, a Networking student at the School of Engineering and Computer Science, spent the four-month summer break interning with Pertino Networks. Read about his experience here: http://kiwilandingpad.com/sacrificing-a-nz-summer-for-winter-in-silicon-valley/

Applications close August 15 2014. For further information:

http://kiwilandingpad.com/program/winternz/

Computer Vision Research Awarded a Best Paper at International Conference

22 Jul 2014 - 11:56 in Achievement

Congratulations to a team of researchers from School of Engineering and Computer Science from being awarded a Best Paper on their computer vision utilising evolutionary computation work.

Muhammad Iqbal, Saud Syed Naqvi, Will Browne, Christopher Hollitt and Mengjie Zhang were awarded one of 11 best papers (out of 544 submissions ~ 2% awarded BP), which is voted on by peer reviewers and audience members at the presentation at GECCO 2014, Vancouver, Canada, July 2014. Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) is one of the most prestigious double-blind peer review conference in Evolutionary Computation. Based on its impact factor, GECCO is 11th in the rankings of 701 international conferences in artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and human-computer interactions.

Their novel contribution is in salient object detection, which is equivalent to identifying the most important object in a photograph. This branch of artificial intelligence is gaining rapid importance due to applications as varied as 'Facebook' image identification to autonomous robotics.

Below is a series of pictures showing the raw image (ASD dataset), then human identified ground truth, followed by two alternative algorithms and the final column showing the state-of-the-art results produced by the developed algorithm.

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This work represents a collaboration between the Evolutionary Computational Research Group and the Vision, Image Computation, and Computer Graphics Group, which enhances the international reputation. Both groups are currently seeking excellent doctorate students to continue this research direction in computer graphics, vision techniques, evolutionary computation and robotics, where University scholarships are available for suitable candidates.

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http://www.sigevo.org/gecco-2014/papers.html

Summer Scholarships 2014

15 Jul 2014 - 13:13 in Research

If you’re a third year or above, interested and skilled in research, you could spend the summer supporting a research project and earn a valuable scholarship.

The Summer Research Scholarships offer a unique opportunity for you to obtain experience in research. Working with globally recognised researchers in a local setting, you will gain valuable real-world experience as well as an insight into what research is all about.

What’s involved

You will be expected to work on a research project for up to 10 weeks (400 hours) over the summer trimester, under the supervision of well-established researchers or a research team at the University.

What it’s worth

Victoria University will award up to 150 internally funded Summer Research Scholarships and an additional number of externally funded projects over the 2014/2015 summer trimester.

Each summer research scholarship includes a minimum tax-free stipend of $6,000.

Eligibility

The scholarships are open to students who have completed at least two years of their undergraduate degree and are currently enrolled full-time at any Australian or New Zealand University in an undergraduate, Honours or the first year of a Master’s degree.

Applicants should be intending to enrol at Victoria in 2015. Applicants must not hold a Victoria PhD or Doctoral Scholarship, nor a Victoria Masters Scholarship at the same time as this award.

Download the Summer Scholarship Conditions for a full list of the award regulations.

Applications

You must apply directly to your faculty or school (not the Scholarship Office). For further information on what projects are available and to find out how to apply, contact:

Margot Neas

Administrator - Science and Engineering Faculty Office

Taking charge in electricity research

07 Jul 2014 - 16:45 in Research

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A Victoria University engineering lecturer is shedding light on household power usage, as part of her research into improving the way New Zealand uses electricity.

Dr Rebecca Ford, from the School of Engineering and Computer Science, is part of a nationwide research team exploring the future of electricity supply and consumption in New Zealand.

The GREEN Grid project, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE), is a wide-ranging investigation into how New Zealanders use power, how demand can best be met using renewable sources, and how the national grid can be made smarter and more efficient.

Joining researchers from Auckland, Canterbury and Otago universities, Dr Ford will be helping to explore the potential development of a Smart Grid, which incorporates information and communications technology into New Zealand’s electricity infrastructure—advancements which, she says, are well overdue.

“We’ve currently got electricity infrastructure which is relatively ‘dumb’, in the sense that we have some elements of control but we don’t really know what’s going on throughout the entire network,” says Dr Ford.

It’s hoped that improved information about electricity flows will lead to increased flexibility and efficiency within the grid, putting more control in the hands of consumers and the industry.

“A consumer who had a smart meter would no longer get a bill once a month, but would be able to log on and see a chart of how much electricity they’re using every day.”

Dr Ford says a better understanding of how and when consumers are using power would equip them to have greater control of their electricity energy usage.

Power companies would also benefit from the information gathered by smart meters she says. It would provide them with a greater understanding of both their customer’s needs and the needs of the network in general.

Dr Ford says in the future this knowledge could lead to financial incentives for customers to use power in off-peak times when the network is under less strain. While this is not currently an option in New Zealand, the development of smart appliances could mean it is not far off.

“More and more home appliances are being developed with information and communications technology which means they can be switched on and off remotely. With this level of control, consumers could choose to run energy hungry appliances during off peak, lower cost periods to decrease their power bill and help out the network.”

Household electricity usage has been the focus of Dr Ford’s research, who completed her PhD in engineering at Oxford University with research that looked at how people can better manage the way they use energy in their homes.

“With our research, we want to get a better idea of what people are doing, how they’re using their appliances and then what options they have for better managing them and shifting patterns of demand. This could help people save energy and money, and could also help improve our overall management of the electricity grid.”

The research will inform new operating models for the wider electricity system which are being investigated by the New Zealand Smart Grid Forum, a group of industry stakeholders and customers. The Smart Grid Forum, established by MBIE and the Electricity Networks Association, is also looking at the infrastructure and commercial arrangements needed to benefit from new operating models.

Engineering School Outreach

01 Jul 2014 - 13:30 in Event

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Elf Eldridge is leading Victoria University's new engineering outreach programme for secondary school students and challenging stereotypes about what engineering is and where it can lead.

Elf, who is currently completing his PhD in Physics and was part of the University’s 2013 Know Your Mind recruitment campaign, was snapped up by the School of Engineering late last year and given the mission of exciting students about engineering.

Part of his role is visiting schools and communities to encourage students to do whatever they’re interested in, from animation and robotics, to game design and basic electronics. “My work aims to help students be well prepared if they choose to pursue engineering at university,” says Elf.

One of the challenges is that there are many students interested in engineering and science, but only localised pockets of knowledge. “You might find one school with an amazing teacher who is really gifted in all kinds of technology, and another school with a bunch of interested pupils but with no teacher that takes the lead,” he says.

One initiative aimed at tackling this problem is <Tek Ctrl/>, an after-school programme aimed at Year 10 to 13 students, giving young people a chance to play and learn about various technologies in an informal setting.

“I turn up and see who else turns up—it’s normally a mixed bag. Each student has a different idea of what they’d like to do,” says Elf.

“One of the toughest challenges is to get girls to continue on in the engineering field, which is why one tech group, based at the National Library, is targeted specifically at females and run by a female second year software engineering student.

“One of my favourite examples is a girl who is absolutely nuts for space and astronomy. She wants to build her own planetarium and software, which is great, but no one else at her school knows anything about doing it. I really want to enable her.”

Elf says it’s all about breaking down walls, particularly with female students. “A lot of young people tend to disengage, particularly with something like robotics, because it just looks complicated. If you sit down and build a fully functional robot in an hour, that's what I see as the value,” says Elf.

Teachers have also started to come along to <Tek Ctrl/> for support and to learn about digital technology. “Generally I’m trying to make it clear that if they want to try something technology based, like build a robot, and they’ve never done it before I say yes, go for it!”

Watch Elf’s Know Your Mind video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx-7isGhxbQ