Software Hut: where computing students work with companies
There is a real buzz every week; all second-year computing students meet with company representatives to discuss their group project. The Software Hut module takes place every Wednesday morning, in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, where groups of five or six students meet with a company representative to talk about their project.
“These are real-world projects, with real challenges from the companies” says Dr Cameron Gray, one of the academics who runs the module. “Students get experience of working with a client, work as a team to determine the requirements, and develop something that the company wants. Students learn to work in a team and understand how to manage a complex development project. In fact, over the past years, we have had several companies employ students, because of their engagement in the Software Hut”.
Group of students discussing their software Hut project
One group is working with Llifon Jones, a senior software architect from Bee Robotics. “For Bee Robotics, we see the Software-Hut module as an important experience to expose future graduates to core industry practices of requirements gathering, teamwork and cooperation. Having graduates join our or any organisation with these skills already at hand affords them the ability to become part of the innovation team from day one.”
“I’ve found Software Hut to be invaluable in learning about the world of software development” said Sam Tindling, studying on the Computer Science BSc and working on a project with Llifon Jones. “The project I'm on helps teach me how real-world developers would create reliable software for clients with the use of specifications, diagrams, and testing. We first completed a ‘Mini Project’ and now I feel much more informed to develop software for a real company, which we will be doing for our main project. This course has really helped me hone my software development skills, and put all that I have learned over two years into context, as well as learning the importance of teamwork, communication and customer relations.”
Llifon Jones, talking about the specifications of the project with the software group
Shannon Heffernan, a student on the BSC Computer Information Systems for Business degree, said “In my group in Software Hut, my role is being the lead Technical Writer. I feel like Software Hut is a useful module since it has strengthened my teamwork skills, which is key in the computing sector, and it has helped me improve my time management when it comes to deadlines, for example, I create and update Gantt Charts to make sure that all of the tasks are met. Software Hut gives you the feel of what to expect when you go into the world of work, for example, with the main assignment, you're assigned a project created by a real-life business. It gives you that sense of reality and what to expect in the 'real world' since you also have a meeting with the employer to ask questions enquiring about the project and at the end, you present the finished product to them. It is a hard module, however, it does pay off in the end due to the experience and skills you gain from it.”
“Software Hut gives the opportunity to students to work on real-world challenges” said Dr Panagiotis Ritsos, one of the academic mentors. “Students consider, in addition to technical issues, aspects of collaboration with their peers and clients, project management approaches, and the importance of ethical considerations. Equally important is the fact that in Software Hut they must combine knowledge and techniques from a variety of modules and domains, which underpins the ethos of Computer Science and Engineering today.”
Publication date: 18 February 2020