University incoming Class Photos – (Examples in Video), an engaging Start?

It seems that quite a number of Universities start off the academic year by organising a class photo for all the new incoming students. A number of such examples can be seen in the videos below.

As can be seen in the video directly below, such group photographs aren’t just limited to the University arena but also spans across the Universe, in particular with this example of the 10 year anniversary group photo of the Marvel Universe.

Marvel Universe 10 year Class Photo

1. Is this a good method of building a sense of community, pride and belonging right from the very start of the University experience?

2. Do many other Universities create incoming class photos?

3. Is it nice to receive a hardcopy print of the photo, or is it better & more environmentally friendly for it to be available online through the likes of Facebook so participants can be tagged, given we are nearing the end of the second decade of the 21st century?

4. Have you seen any institutions outside of the US taking on this form of welcome activity?

5. Have you seen any other interesting forms of welcome activity that generates a sense of community and excitement?

6. What is the smallest & largest gathering you have seen for a University class group photo, 3000, 5000, more?

7. Are such incoming class photos generally taken at the University level for all incoming students, or have you seen any that are at College/Faculty or School/Department level?

8. What was the most fun / interesting incoming class group photo you’ve seen?

Butler University – Class of 2021

Butler University – Class of 2020

Butler University – Class of 2019

Butler University – Class of 2018

Butler University – Class of 2017

University of Chicago – Class of 2019

University of Chicago – Class of 2018

University of Chicago – Class of 2016

University of Connecticut– Class of 2016

Cornell – Class of 2016

Duke University – Class of 2020

Duke University – Class of 2019

Duke University – Class of 2018

Duke University – Class of 2016 (Over 40 minutes duration)

Duke University – Class of 2013

Emory University – Class of 2021

Emory University – Class of 2016

Emory University – Class of 2014 (First ever class photo)

University of Iowa – Class of 2019

University of Iowa – Class of 2015

University of Massachusetts – Class of 2020

Michigan Technological University – Class of 2013

Michigan Technological University – Class of 2012

University of Minnesota – Class of 2020

MSOE – Class of 2018

University of North Texas – Class of 2019

Northwestern University – Class of 2021

Northwestern University – Class of 2020

Northwestern University – Class of 2018

University of Pennsylvania – Class of 2016

University of Pittsburgh – Class of 2021

University of Pittsburgh – Class of 2020

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) – Class of 2018

University of Southern Indiana – Class of 2018

SMU – Class of 2021

SMU – Class of 2020

SMU – Class of 2016

SMU – Class of 2015

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2021

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2020

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2019

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2018

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2017

Wesleyan University – Class of 2018

West Point – Class of 2012

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Post-it Note Art on Campus

Following on from my previous Blog Post (online) highlighting a number of YouTube videos depicting Post-it note art, this post gives some idea of the Post-it Note murals that have materialised around the School of Computer Science and Digital Technology, Birmingham City University. As previously mentioned on a visit to the Google London offices over the summer, myself and a dozen other academics really enjoyed seeing the Post-it note art they had adorned their offices with.

To add a greater splash of colour around the School we purchased 15,300 3M Super Sticky Post-it Notes, this is sufficient to cover an area of around 88 square meters. The images below give some sense of the murals that have already been created, with many more likely to follow. These murals have been created by a number of placement students we have working here at the School. As can be expected they have all had a very distinctive Computing/Gaming theme to them.

What other Post-it Note murals do you think would be interesting to see?

Post-it Note Art

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A Visit to #HackTheMidlands Hackathon 2017

On Saturday 23rd September 2017 a 24 hour Hackathon called “Hack The Midlands” kicked off at Millennium Point in Birmingham. Around 150 attendees turned up to share in the adventure of writing some code in teams. Quite a variety of participants took part including students from Birmingham City University, Aston University and the University of Birmingham. Other participants included a number pre-university and several whom had graduated several years before. It wasn’t just students of computing taking part either, but also had participants from disciplines such as Maths, Physics and Psychology. Some of the participants travelled quite a distance to take part in the Hackathon, with several coming from St Andrews up in Scotland and one all the way from Italy. Nine Workshops were also taking place during the event, covering things from web development and Node.js to VR (online).

It wasn’t all just about writing code either with many teams working of electronic based projects such as a 3D Printer, Arduino, Breadboards and the like. A good bit of soldering and de-soldering was also taking place. Was really great to see a diverse range of ideas and projects being brought to light. For some this was their first Hackathon, for others they had been to many before as some of the images below of laptops covered with Hackathon stickers can attest to. A few mascots were also to be found dotted around the desks such as “Otto the Octopus”.

Useful Links
Hack The Midlands Website (online)
HaCS Hackathon and Computing Society, Birmingham City University (online)
HaCS Twitter Feed (online)
Aston Computer Science Society, Aston University (online)
ACCS Twitter Feed (online)
Computer Science Society, University of Birmingham (online)
CSS Twitter Feed (online)

Hack The Midlands 2017

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Keeping Cool
The 3D Printer Project was really quite interesting on two fronts. Firstly for the seemingly random parts deposited in the base and secondly for the innovative use of soft drink cans to elevate the printer to help facilitate systems cooling.

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Day 1 Tweets
Below can be seen a selection of twitter posts from the first half of the Hackathon event.

Visit to the UK’s Biggest Gaming Event – EXG 2017

Last year during University Welcome Week, several bus loads of BCU Computing students along with a number of staff headed off on an adventure to visit Bletchley Park (online). This year The UK’s Biggest Gaming Event EXG 2017 happened to be taking place during welcome week, so several hundred students and staff ventured to the NEC to explore the world of computer games – past, present and future. The photos below should help to give some small sense of what the event was like.

One could find several hundred retro games available to be played – a detailed list available from the Retro Strand (online).

EXG 2017 is running from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th Sept inclusive, so plenty of opportunities still exist to check out the event and play some games. The 2016 EGX event had over 75,000 people in attendance (online), will this year be even bigger?

Useful Links
EXG Website (online)
EGX Facebook Page (online)
EGX Twitter Feed (online)
EGX on YouTube (online)
EGX on Twitch (online)

EGX 2017

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This EXG 2017 Trailer on YouTube may also help to give a good sense of the event.

The following embedded videos are of various talks that took place during the opening day – 21st Sept. These talks include Andy Serkis discussing Planet of the Apes, Xbox One X & the Future of Console Technology with Digital Foundry, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Designing The City of Kings, a MMORPG inspired board game with Frank West and How Firaxis saved XCOM from complete disaster with Jake Solomon.

The Carbon Journey Event – What does the Future Hold

At the start of the week a day long event was held focusing on what the future holds for the world in which we live. It was organised by Aston University and Birmingham City University and held at the Genting Arena. As you will see from the images below it was quite an amazing and eye opening event, attended by a large number of staff and students from both universities.

The world of tomorrow is likely to be a good deal warmer than it is today. The degree to which the average world temperature will be warmer will have an enormous impact on the lives of billions. The population of the world continues to grow and by the end of the century could very well reach anything from 9 to 11 billion people. A growing population needs ever more resources thereby growing our carbon footprint. However if we are to combat dramatic climate change then exceeding a 2 degree change from per-industrial times will have very serious consequences for the planet, population, plant and animal life.

Many countries have signed up to limit their carbon footprint, but with current commitments, estimates put the average global temperature increase at a good bit over 3.5 degrees. Anything beyond a 2 degree increase will have drastic results, therefore it is clear that far far greater measures will need to be taken by everybody whom call planet Earth their home.

The event was well timed as just a few days before (27th Oct) it was announced that global wildlife populations had fallen by 58% since 1970 (online). What will the global wildlife population be like by 2050 or 2100 if immediate measures are not put in place to curb this dramatic decline?

A good few tweets were generated throughout the day with the hashtag of #carbonjourney (online). Further details about the event and the days programme can be seen (online).

The images below should give you some sense of what the day was like. As can be seen quite a number of speakers were on stage throughout the day. Painting the a picture of what the world of tomorrow may be like from a number of perspectives.

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

The following video – gives some sense of what the news could be like just 30 or so years from now – in the year 2045.

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

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Looking Back at George Boole’s 200th Birthday Celebrations

Today 2nd November 2016 is the 201st Birthday of Professor George Boole, the first professor of mathematics at University College Cork, known the world over as the “father of the information age”. On this very day last year I had the opportunity to be on campus to witness some events celebrating his 200th birthday. As you can see from the photos below quite a sizable cake decorated with 0’s and 1’s was on display. A number of talks also took place on the day. One of the talks I attended was given by Professor Anant Agarwal from MIT (online) about working in the realm of Digital Systems. Also in the audience was Professor Donald Knuth (online), well known for the multi-volume book “The Art of Computer Programming”, he had given a talk / Q&A session just prior. Hopefully some of the images below will give a sense of what the campus was like this day last year for the 200th Birthday celebrations.

Some time ago I wrote a post going through all the dates on the calendar listing the Key People and Events in Computer Science (online). Another person whom was also born the very same year as George Boole was Ada Lovelace, well known for her work with Charles Babbage on the Analytical Engine and the creation of the first algorithm intended to work on a machine. Its probably safe to say that without the work undertaken by both of these people born in 1815 none of the digital world that has permeated the very fabric of our lives today would exist.

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

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Visit to Bletchley Park

On Tuesday 20th Sept, five bus loads of students and academics from @BCUComputing went on a 75 mile trip to visit Bletchley Park. A selection of photographs from the trip can be seen below, most being from the mansion, huts, cottages and museum (Block B). Some further images are available on flickr (online).

Visit to Bletchley Park

Around the same last year I attended two lectures organised by the BCS about Enigma (online) which gave some very interesting insight into the work of Bletchley Park. The post contains an embedded video from one of the lectures that is very much worthwhile to take a look at, as it gives a good deal of background to the Enigma, the Battle of the North Atlantic and the work undertaken at Bletchley Park.

Visit to Bletchley Park

We spent around four hours at Bletchley and really only managed a quick glimpse of the facility, which makes a lot of sense considering the many many thousands of people who were working their throughout the war. There is just so much to see, one could easily spend two full days having a quick look around. Will most certainly have to visit again as I didn’t visit all the huts and blocks or The National Museum of Computing.

Upon arrival at Bletchley Park around 11:00 the students had the opportunity to have a look around the estate before heading to the Teleprinter Hall at 12:00 for an hour long series of talks by Academics from BCU Computing. These talks included a general welcome, a talk on placement opportunities (as seen in the tweets below) and some discussion around keys / security.

After this series of talks it was now around lunchtime so many ventured to the Canteen situated in Hut 4 located right next to the Mansion. With lunch sorted it was then time for some further exploration of Bletchley Park, taking in all the various Huts, Cottages, Garages and the Museum located in Block B. All attendees were provided with a very useful Multimedia Guide comprising of map, imagery and audio / video segments to help guide one around the parks and augment ones tour with some very useful information about the various locations and their function. Some staff and students also had the opportunity of getting in a few rounds of table tennis in the scenic grounds before climbing aboard the busses for the journey back to Birmingham.

In summary it was a really great day out, meeting up at 08:30, setting off a bit after 09:00, arriving a bit after 11:00 and eventually returning by 17:30. A huge word of thanks to all involved in organising this fantastic adventure.

One can visit the following websites for further information
https://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/
http://www.tnmoc.org/

Visit to Bletchley Park

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