The University of Southampton

Successful conclusion to Group Design Project 2013

Published: 13 January 2014

This year’s Group Design Project culminated in a showcase day last Wednesday 8 January at which 29 final-year student groups presented the results of their project-work to their clients and to fellow students in ECS.

The 29 projects undertaken this year involved over 150 students working in small groups during an intensive three-month period between October and December. Clients included Cobham, DSTL, Snowflake Software, BAE Systems Detica, Imagination Technologies, National Instruments, Captec, Siemens, Heathrow Airport, and KBR, as well as research groups and academics across the University of Southampton.

The Group Design Project is a major part of the final (fourth year) of the undergraduate Masters degree in Computer Science, Software Engineering, Information Technology in Organisations, Electronics, and Electrical and Electromechanical Engineering. Over a short timeframe of 10 weeks, the final-year students undertake a project which tests their ability to work as a group, organizing their time and approach, and to come up with a solution to a problem, which might involve a system or a device. The students also have to write a 25,000 word report.

‘This is our finalists’ chance to demonstrate their technical ability as a group, rather than as individuals,’ said Dr Gary Wills of the Electronic and Software Systems group. ‘The students go out to industry, working as a team, under pressure to do a lot of work in a short time. It teaches the students teamwork, using their skills to best advantage for a real customer and working under time pressure. These are very important skills to develop in the real world.’

The student group working with Cobham were asked to integrate sensor inputs and map information. The project, supervised by Dr Rob Maunder of ECS, involved conducting research and developing algorithms to take in information from low-power sensors and provide navigational information to match on to digital mapping. The students involved, Kenneth Payne, Arinze Ekwosimba, Andrew Cowan, John Alton and Thomas Payne, demonstrated the effectiveness of their device during the presentation when its orientation was displayed on screen (see image).

“Here at Cobham we were immediately impressed with the quality of the students we were working with,” said Nigel Hanson, Firmware Engineer at Cobham TCS, Whiteley. “They demonstrated a mix of skills and delegation of work which played to the strengths of each team member and very quickly came up with a professional and very well thought-out design.

“By the end of the 10 weeks of the project they had a fully working unit able to communicate wirelessly in real-time to a host system demonstrating the orientation of the unit. We have been very pleased with this project and hope it leads to further collaboration and closer links with the University of Southampton, in particular the Electronics and Computer Science department, in future.”

Companies who wish to suggest a project for the 2014 Group Design Project can register their interest with Joyce Lewis, ECS Senior Fellow ( Project proposals should be received by 31 May 2014 to be undertaken between October and December of this year. The ECS Group Design Project is directed by Dr Tom Kazmierski.

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