What can I do with a Computer Science degree?

Developing an intelligent family law IT system, working directly with primary users

I am a Computer Science graduate leading a project at the University of Brighton and Family Law Partners to develop a rule based decision support system to underpin a novel model of family law provision. This involves identifying areas in which automation can be utilised in their IT systems, and implementing intelligent solutions to make things more efficient.

I started my Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project approximately 9 months ago…

Sam Paul, Knowledge Systems Developer at Family Law Partners and the University of Brighton.

Getting to know the company and their IT requirements first-hand

My first few days in my role as a ‘Knowledge Systems Developer’ working on a project with a company called Family Law Partners (FLP) and the University of Brighton were an exciting whirlwind. On my first day I met the team supporting KTP projects at the university and they gave me a detailed introduction to the KTP programme and patiently answered all my questions. The next day I went to the law firm where I would be spending the next 2 years of my working life. Everyone was very welcoming, friendly and exuberant, not something I expected from a law firm! I soon started working on the project, I liked the way the project was structured – the first task was getting to know the business, and this is just what I did.

Finding my feet was an important first stage. I spoke the various solicitors, took notes on their activities and converted that information into requirements of the project. Based on those requirements, I created flowcharts and design documents which after getting reviewed by my supervisors, I sent out to the rest of the team at FLP. This was very useful because I was able to discuss my design directly with the people who would be the users of my application and not have to depend on second hand information. This also allowed me to understand the subtle nuances of their work and how my application could be customised to suit their individual requirements.

The work so far – prototyping and testing

After getting sign off on my design, I built a prototype of the application. This was a rewarding process for me because I was using a software platform I had never heard of, Mendix – it is low code rapid development platform – and unlike Java and C# it requires little coding to achieve the same level of complexity. I was able to achieve most of the objectives set out during the design phase.

Once it was complete, I demonstrated it to the entire team and invited them to test the application. The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive but more importantly the testers were able to identify feature they would like to see later on and changes in the user interface that would help them use the application more effectively. I have worked in IT projects before joining the KTP programme and in all of those projects there were gaps in communication between the developers and the users because it was a middle man getting the information and interpreting it to others, but in the KTP programme I got the information directly from the source.

Why has KTP offered something different?

I have enjoyed being part of the KTP programme so far. The work is innovative, and I get to work closely with the users, something that does not often happen in the IT field. The free management training courses have been especially useful, I learnt about communication techniques that have enabled me to gather requirements better, I learnt several useful principles such as stakeholder maintenance, marketing and I have been able meet several other KTP Associates who are doing interesting work and I am sure the network of Associates will continue to be very useful to me in the future. Although I am a single IT professional within a team of solicitors I have fantastic support from my colleagues who are all 100% committed to the success of the project.   My supervisor at the university offers ideas, support and feedback on my work, as well as helping me shape to solution to the complex challenges our project poses.

To anyone considering a KTP – I would 100% recommend it!

If you would like to find out more about becoming a KTP Associate, please click here.

If you would like to find out more about Family Law Partners’ experience on the KTP so far, please click here

If you would like to find out more about KTP at the University of Brighton, please click here.

Using data mining to Do things better

– By Billiejoe Charlton, KTP Associate, Do Something Different

As part of my KTP work with Do Something Different Ltd and University of Brighton, I recently attended and presented a paper at the 7th International Digital Health Conference in London [link: http://www.acm-digitalhealth.org/ ]. Held at 30 Euston Square – the headquarters of the Royal College of General Practitioners – the conference offered the opportunity to disseminate the scientific findings from my KTP project to an interested and knowledgeable audience, and raise awareness of the vital work that Do Something Different [http://www.dsd.me/] is doing to help people change their lives for the better. It was also a wonderful chance to network with like-minded professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds, and learn about exciting new developments in the field of Digital Health.

The theme of the conference was “Global Public Health, Personalised Medicine, and Emergency Medicine in the Age of Big Data”, and it attracted experts from many fields, including medicine, disaster management, sensor technologies, data mining and social marketing. Kicking things off was Dr Oliver Morgan from the World Health Organisation, whose fascinating keynote asked, “How can we make better use of data to protect people’s health and save lives?”. Dr Morgan described the WHO’s development of a new global surveillance system for disease outbreaks, which will bring together data from national public health systems as well as from less structured sources such as news and social media reports. This set the tone for an event where the focus was firmly on using emerging technologies not for the accumulation of profit but for the benefit of all.

The research I presented is about how we have used data mining techniques to improve the behaviour change programmes delivered by Do Something Different. Each such programme consists of a series of personalised “Dos” – small recommended activities to help people practice behaving in new ways and break their habits. These behavioural prompts are delivered by a smartphone app, or by SMS or email. The approach is based on decades of psychological research, and programmes have been designed to address many personal development goals, such as smoking cessation, stress reduction, better diabetes self-management, leadership skills and so on.

A slide from my presentation: Dos are prompts for small actions, delivered by smartphone, designed to help people change their behaviour.

 

In our research we have applied data mining techniques to interaction data and psychological questionnaires from a sample of Do Something Different’s users. Our data set included information about 15,550 people who have taken part in a Do Something Different programme. Using correlation networks and regression models, we were able to construct a new, more precise model of the connections between the behaviours promoted by Do Something Different and a person’s wellbeing and happiness. This has led us to refine the contents of the programmes. The paper, titled Using Data Mining to Refine Digital Behaviour Change Interventions [link: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3079468 ], is co-authored with John Kingston, Miltos Petridis and Ben (C) Fletcher. Interested readers can try out Do Something Different today by going to https://dsd.me/get-started/.

My presentation was in a session on Study Metholodogies, which also featured a fantastic talk by Emily Keane from charity Save The Children, about the use of a smartphone app in the treatment of malnourished children in Africa. The app replaces paper-based child registers for recording data, and guides the health worker step-by-step through the treatment protocol, so that no steps are inadvertently missed. Video illustrations show how to correctly measure a child’s mid upper arm circumference, a key indicator in assessing nutrition, which is frequently performed incorrectly.

Away from the talks, some exciting technology was on display. I was particularly impressed by the Advies.chat system (http://www.soaaids.nl/en/advieschat), a “chatbot” advice tool that offers free and anonymous advice about sexual health and STI testing to young people, based on clinical guidelines. The developers note that “over 20 years of experience in one-on-one counseling via telephone, e-mail and direct message chat about STIs, HIV, testing and prevention were manually translated into structured responses to common questions”. This approach was thought-provoking for me, as Do Something Different is currently exploring ways to improve its user interaction experience.

I returned from the conference having made useful contacts, and more motivated than ever to work on my KTP project, where we are continually looking for new ways to use technology to help people make the changes they want in their lives, and be happier and more fulfilled. I hope to attend the conference again next year, and present further discoveries from analysing data about behaviour change.

– Billiejoe Charlton, KTP Associate, Do Something Different

Putting AI to Work – an Associate’s reflections on attending cutting edge AI Conference in New York

By Ajibola Obayemi

Data and Knowledge Systems Developer – KTP Associate

The O’Reilly AI Conference held in June in Manhattan, New York brought together industry pioneers, university experts, and thought leaders to debate, discuss and move thinking forward in one of the most cutting-edge areas in computing: Artificial Intelligence (AI). Attending this Conference and undertaking the training has deepened my knowledge, inspired my thinking and widened my network.

The conference covered two days of training and tutorials and two days of talks, workshops and seminars about applied AI in businesses and the use cases in different industries. As a Data and Knowledge Systems developer with BCMY Ltd and the University of Brighton, I have been tasked with building intelligent systems, optimizing work flow and using technology to facilitate business growth. This conference and the training provided just the right mix of learning, networking and understanding what other businesses are doing, what they are using to do it and how this is positively or negatively affecting their businesses.

The training

There were four different training sessions: Deep learning with TensorFlow, NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute bootcamp, Natural Language processing with Deep Learning and Neural Networks for time series analysis using DeepLearning4j.

The training was hands-on and we worked with a few deep learning frameworks (Caffe2, TensorFlow, Theano, and NVIDIA Digits) and library (Keras). For the most part, we used Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) to solve Image Classification, Image Segmentation and Object Detection problems and used Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN) for modelling timeseries. Using transfer learning we made a model solve a similar problem on a new dataset which the model was not trained for. This is interesting as it means by making some changes and removing the output layer we can use pre-trained models on a new dataset, saving a significant amount of time and resources.

One of the cogent points for me is the clear distinction between training, validation and test datasets. Usually, validation and test datasets are used interchangeably in books and papers but each of these datasets have their uses and should be treated differently. Hyperparameter optimization was key as well, as it affects your learning rate, loss function, momentum and basically your training iterations.

 

The Conference

After two days of training, the full Conference got underway with some great keynotes from industry pioneers and experts leading significant projects and research in companies such as Google (Google Brain), IBM (IBM Watson), Facebook, NVIDIA, Intel (Intel Nervana), Salesforce and universities such as MIT, UC Berkeley, John Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University. The O’Reilly AI Conference is definitely a key place to network with industry experts. There was also a speed networking event which set the basis for introduction and other non-formal events held after the day was over for attendees to bond outside of the conference.

Several sessions were held with experts showing how they have applied AI and Machine Learning to varying problems. Some of the sessions highlighted the use cases for using AI and Machine Learning in discovering new drugs; discovering cancerous cells; solving eye care issues; predicting faults in machines before they happen, thereby facilitating cost effective preventive maintenance for industries that cannot afford any sort of downtime; cognitive mobile healthcare for patients and physicians; solving financial fraud with Machine Learning; and solving child pornography and human trafficking with AI. Seeing first-hand the diversity of AI applications across such a range of sectors and their impact was inspiring.

Some of the more technical sessions included Deploying AI systems in Edge and Cloud environments; Running TensorFlow at scale in the cloud; Software architectures for building enterprise AI; integrating deep learning libraries with Apache Spark; Recommending products for 1.91 billion people on Facebook; and the AI-powered newsroom.

Certainly, there was a lot to take away from the conference and the blend of these experiences from the training sessions and seminars/ workshops has for me ignited a new way of thinking about problems which can be solved using these Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques.

My project

For my project, the team and I have worked on a model for dynamic product pricing based on historical prices and product performance and I am currently rounding up work on a classifier algorithm for customer classification. With the new skillset, I will be optimizing the product pricing model, predicting demand and using this to generate a demand curve which can be clustered and the effective pricing for each cluster can be applied to products that have not been sold before. I will also be using sentiment analysis to reduce sales cycle and increasing the average negotiation turnaround period. Specifically, deep learning will help facilitate operational efficiency at BCMY Ltd by solving some computer vision tasks and ultimately remove certain constraints experienced at the moment. It is certainly an exciting time for BCMY Ltd as technology continues to play important roles in the service delivery pipeline.

I have the support of an effective team at BCMY Ltd and the University of Brighton and undoubtedly look forward to the coming months and how these implementations will deliver value to both BCMY Ltd and the University of Brighton.

Lastly, a word to take home, “as an Engineer, your focus should be in building your network, increasing the inference accuracy and ensuring your model does not mimic human bias”.

Ajibola Obayemi

Data and Knowledge Systems Developer – KTP Associate

BCMY Ltd and University of Brighton

What is a KTP Associate?

A KTP Associate is the graduate who is leading a KTP project. KTP is short for Knowledge Transfer Partnership, which is a scheme that has been running throughout the UK for over 40 years.

The scheme matches up businesses who have a need to innovate, develop and grow, with a university who has the expertise to help them do so. Once the project team is formed, the university recruits a graduate to deliver the project, under the supervision of the company and the academic team.

On top of an annual salary, Associates also get a dedicated training budget of £2,000 per annum. You’ll have responsibility from day one and the potential to gain a permanent job with an innovative company (approximately 78 per cent of graduates are offered employment at the end of a KTP).

Every year, Associates are also invited to the annual KTP Associates Conference. Carlotta Giussani, KTP Associate for a KTP project with the Sourcepark in Hastings told us:

“The KTP Associates Conference in Birmingham was absolutely great experience. It was great opportunity to network with the other Associates and to hear more about other KTP Associates projects and experiences.”

Find all current job opportunities on the national KTP website here: https://info.ktponline.org.uk/action/search/partnership_vac.aspx

 

 

5 Reasons to be ‘Appy

KTP company Do Something Different (DSD) seek to make the world a better place by inspiring millions of people to do something different through behaviour change programmes. Clients are sent personalised ‘dos’ which aim to take the individual out of their comfort zone, breaking the habits which prevent them reaching their full potential and developing behavioural flexibility.

KTP Associates Billiejoe Charlton recently posted on the blog for his company DSD to tell us about their new app which you can log into every day to log how you feel on the ‘happy tracker’. Why use the app? App users give on average 4.07 stars out of 5, vs 3.67 for non-app users, suggesting they have a better overall experience. You can read Billiejoe’s full blog post here: https://dsd.me/2017/03/15/5-reasons-to-be-appy/

DSD have amassed a wealth of data from delivering programmes over the years – this KTP project seeks to apply machine learning to optimise their programmes to help the company expand and grow.

Students compete to develop best communications and branding strategy for local KTP company

Over 60 students on the University of Brighton’s Business with Marketing course are working in simulated ‘marketing agency’ teams to come up with the freshest, most effective and well targeted communications and branding strategy for Hove based company, Class Of Their Own.  Class Of Their Own, who provide out of school care for children in the Sussex area, were recently awarded an Outstanding grade (A) for their Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the university.  Keen to maintain collaboration with the university and build upon the success of the KTP – which was led by Jane Priddis from Brighton Business School (BBS) – Class Of Their Own engaged BBS students to help them develop a new communications and branding strategy.

Tanya Petherick, Class of Their Own Director said: “The KTP resulted in the development of a strategic plan that is the blueprint of our company operations for the next 6 years.  Working with students on this project will bring further fresh ideas and enthusiasm to an important part of the delivery of this plan.  We have been very impressed with the student response so far and are looking forward to seeing their ideas”. 

The competition is the focus of the students’ marketing communications module and will culminate in a series of pitch presentations to Tanya, Sam Thomson (also Director at Class of Their Own) and the former KTP Associate, Andrew Black, who is now the company’s Marketing Manager.

The Marketing Communications module leader, Lyvia Royd-Taylor said It’s an exciting project and the students are already cracking on with it. I’ve seen groups of students discussing the Class Of Their Own website in the canteen at lunchtimes!” 

The Knowledge Exchange team at the University of Brighton supports the process of exchanging ideas, expertise and experience (know-how) through partnership, and KTP is one of the mechanisms the university has successfully used to deliver impact and bring expertise into companies.  Contact us at knowledgeexchange@brighton.ac.uk or on 01273 642426 to find out more. You can also find out more on our website www.brighton.ac.uk/knowledgeexchange.

Enjoying employment – how graduate Ruixiao Yu’s KTP project led to a permanent job

KTP Associate Ruixiao Yu was employed by the University of Brighton (who sponsored his visa) as KTP Associate for a project with Eastbourne based company Colony101.  Following project completion, the company decided to employ Ruixiao so sponsored his next visa and employed him on a permanent basis. You can read more about his experience as a KTP Associate, where he worked in partnership with the University of Brighton and Colony101 to deliver a strategic project for the company below:

 

Associate Profile

Name – Ruixiao Yu

Former KTP Associate for – the University of Brighton and Colony101

Current position – Senior .NET Developer at Cyclr (spin out company of Colony101)

Education – MSc in Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh and BEng in Software Engineering – Hangzhou Dianzi University

 

 

Brief description of project

During my project I worked with Eastbourne based software development company, Colony101, who specialise in email marketing software. My project focused on developing an innovative automated data integration software product. We had input from academics in the University of Brighton’s School of Computing, Engineer and Mathematics, who provided expertise in visual programming languages, cloud software architecture and business process modelling. Our product, Cyclr, has been launched through its own start-up company.

 

Highlights from the project

The personal development budget was fantastic, for example I was able to attend Scrum Master training which allowed me to work as a Scrum Master in the company – facilitating the development of the software on a day to day basis. I also attended several specialised database development, data mining/analytics and machine learning courses. The project work has been really enjoyable. The fun part of programming is that you’re solving challenging problems every day, it feels great!

 

The best thing about being a KTP Associate

The opportunity for personal development was the most significant benefit I can see for KTP. I was involved in the product development right at the beginning, and went on to design, implement and test the application. Initially I had full responsibility for delivering this with support from my supervisory team, and then after a year another developer joined the team and I was able to act as the Scrum Master, helping to lead the team to develop the system.

 

Challenges overcome during partnership

There have been some challenges with regards to setting up a start-up company, which has been a really useful learning experience for me and for the team. As a start-up company, we have pressure to compete with big players in the market, and they have more resources to allocate. We also needed to look for funding ourselves, but this has been overcome by bringing in external stakeholders who had experience in starting up businesses.

 

What I am doing now

I’m now employed by the start-up company Cyclr, as a Senior.NET Developer focussing on further developing the core Cyclr product and implementing new features.

 

I would recommend a KTP because…

You can bring your academic knowledge directly into a business context, working on a specific objective and deliverable. You will still be involved in academic life through the relationship with the university, but you will use your knowledge and skills in a very practical way. You can be the manager of your project, right from the beginning.

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What is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership?

KTP is a world-leading programme that helps businesses succeed by connecting them to the UK’s rich academic resources. It’s a partnership between the business seeking expertise, a university or college and a recently qualified graduate – known as an Associate. Each partnership lasts from twelve months to three years.

The graduate carries out a strategic project in your business, with expert university academic guidance. Up to 67 per cent of the project costs are government-funded.

If you apply to KTP and you’re successful, an Associate (supervised by the company and the university) will work in your company and help bring your plans to life.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership can involve refining or designing products, opening new markets, improving business, marketing or manufacturing systems and cutting costs and waste.

 

Connecting graduates across the UK

University of Brighton KTP Associates Billiejoe Charlton, Tim Gardhouse and Solomon Adebayo recently attended the KTP Associates Conference in Coventry where they met some of the 100+ KTP Associates from across the UK who presented papers and posters on a wide variety of KTP projects.  This annual event was set up by the University of Brighton around 8 years ago, but is now shared by the KTP community so that the event can move around the UK, giving more Associates the opportunity to attend.

Solomon, Billiejoe and Tim at the KTP Associates Conference 2016 in Coventry

Solomon, Billiejoe and Tim at the KTP Associates Conference in May 2016, in Coventry.

Solomon, Billiejoe and Tim at the KTP Associates Conference 2016 in Coventry

The celebrations started on the Wednesday evening with a pre-Conference delegates social then it was an early start on the Thursday for coffees and networking before two Keynote speakers took the stage. Associates heard from Dr Lorna Everall who’s KTP helped create a product for monitoring stress in buildings, bridges and wind turbines and Dr Ignacio Tudela an expert in the automotive, power generation, marine and industrial sectors.

32 poster presenters then took a deep breath for each of their 1-minute elevator pitches to drum up interest and questions for the poster session which followed. The afternoon sessions comprised 22 presentations of Associates papers and the prize giving for Best Papers and Best Posters.

Billiejoe said “the conference was a great opportunity to meet other Associates – I didn’t realise KTPs were so diverse!  I also met someone at the social who works in a similar field to me, so we had loads to talk about. We’ll stay in touch to find out how each other’s projects are going and hopefully meet again at next years Conference in Birmingham.”

Details of the 2017 Conference will be posted on the KTP website as soon as they’re available.

Following the Conference, Tim was asked to be the Keynote speaker at The UK Thermal Energy Storage Workshop in June 2016 presenting on ‘Using a cold thermal store to improve the efficiency of liquid air energy storage’.

Find out more about KTP here or contact the KTP centre at ktp@brighton.ac.uk with any questions.

Join our focus group and be in with a chance to win a £30 Amazon voucher!

Would you like to shape how we recruit for our Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) jobs, and find out more about the unique opportunity it offers? Would you be interested winning a £30 Amazon voucher? If so, book your place on one of our KTP Recruitment Focus Groups now by emailing us at KTPJobs@brighton.ac.uk.

Master logo - KTP

We would like to invite you to one of our Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Focus Groups which will last up to 2 hours and will look to find out what you think of our approach to recruiting graduates.  In particular we will be looking at KTP adverts and how we advertise our jobs.  There will also be an opportunity to find out more about KTP as a scheme and what we look for in our graduates.

There’s nothing you need to do to prepare, just bring yourself and we’ll do the rest!

There will also be refreshments and cake, and a chance to win a £30 Amazon voucher.

KTP has been placing graduates with innovative companies for over 40 years.  We value people who are passionate, proactive and naturally inquisitive.  The majority of our jobs fall into the science and engineering disciplines, though we have also had recent roles in business and management, and retail.

The Focus Groups will be held on the following dates:

Focus Group 3 – Wednesday 17 February 2016 at 2pm, Hastings Campus.

Focus Group 4 – Wednesday 2 March 2016 at 2pm, Moulsecoomb Campus

If you would like to join us, please contact KTPJobs@brighton.ac.uk confirming which Focus Group you’d like to attend, and we will be in touch nearer the time with more information.

If you’d like to find out more about KTP, you can take a look at our website for videos and case studies.

Many thanks

The KTP Team

SandL

University of Brighton graduates – where are they now?

Master logo - KTP

It’s always great to hear about the career paths that graduates took after they left the University of Brighton. As November celebrated National Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Month and well as 40 successful years of the scheme, we’re focusing on how the roles that our alumni have taken in the scheme have helped them to shape their careers and create new opportunities.

The University of Brighton runs one of the largest KTP programmes in the South East and to date have delivered over 250 programmes with over 150 companies.  KTP is a nation-wide government scheme that can provide up to 67% grant funding to enable companies to become more innovative and competitive by working in partnership with a university.  Based on the 2013/14 outcomes report, on average a company undertaking a two-year KTP has a projected increase of over £1 million in annual profits before tax and 86% of the partnerships have plans for future collaboration with the university.

University of Brighton graduate Victoria Keen works as Head of Sustainability at The Guinness Partnership, starting after she graduated with Distinction from a Masters in Sustainability of the Built Environment in 2009.  She had been involved in setting up a KTP with a previous employer so was familiar with the process, as well as the benefits that KTP can offer to companies. A KTP with Guinness and the University of Brighton was quickly set up and on top of her normal job, Victoria also took on the role of Company Supervisor to the KTP Associate, graduate Adam Masters, in a project which developed and embedded an eco-retrofit capability within the Guinness Partnership.

Victoria said “It was a pleasure to go back to the university that I graduated from in a professional capacity and work with their academics on a strategic project for the Guinness Partnership. We all benefited hugely from the KTP – we look forward to continuing to work with the university on other projects.”

As part of the KTP, the team evaluated the energy performance of the offices and selected six of them for improvements. By retrofitting these offices and implementing behaviour change initiatives the team were able to make savings of approx. £50,000 per year and develop a strategy for the roll out of retrofit across the remaining offices.

Are you a University of Brighton graduate working for a company who could benefit from an injection of knowledge from academics at your former university? To discuss how KTP could help your business develop and grow, please contact Dr Shona Campbell, KTP Manager, at the University of Brighton on 01273 642495 or at s.e.campbell@brighton.ac.uk.