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37 MSc and MEng students deploy Big Data Infrastructure project for the UK Housing Associations with Microsoft UK

We are delighted to announce, the Microsoft-UCL collaboration's latest and largest academic partnership project has just deployed it's first iteration to Microsoft UK. The UK Future Living platform was directed and co-supervised by Paul Foster from Microsoft UK.


It involved 37 students from MSc Software Systems Engineering, MSc Financial Systems Engineering and MEng Computer Science students working together as a hierarchy of teams on their study of Systems Integration, from UCL Computer Science. Well done to all of our students who over the space of just 10 weeks, worked on this huge collaboration, delivered their solution and presented their findings on Feb 18th 2014.

This is our largest student-to-client project to date, and covers the area of Big Data Infrastructure with the Internet of Things (IoT). The clients are the UK Housing Associations that manage housing for thousands, including on the poverty, disabled and elderly care lines. They came on board to invest time for on-site visits, extracting housing requirements, demonstrating existing systems and modelling their big data needs with the UCL teams.

As a teaching paradigm, strict consulting rules of engagement amongst teams were formed. These included assigning team roles with individual work packages, team milestones and quality gates for approving submitted components to repositories, hierarchies of well formed requirements, team leaders appointed on each major component, integration points management for use cases and system architects overseeing the project.

Amongst a number of firsts for us:

  • This was, currently, our largest class of software engineering students working together as one large team, with Microsoft engineers and researchers, on solving a significant infrastructure project for a real-world client.
  • Large scale abstraction and modelling for IoT based data collection in a scenario that is now a template for subsequent Hadoop-for-devices-data  projects.
  • Suggested cloud, devices and analytics API infrastructure patterns and trialled approaches have been proposed for future development teams.
  • The first academic implementation of Microsoft Research's Orleans platform for a client project, with thanks to Microsoft UK for this steering!
  • HDInsight on Azure being successfully utilised by students working for a client, which was very gratefully received, enabling all of the students to have Hadoop based big data analytics experience.
  • The design and development of UCL CAPTAIN devices - no-screen cloud-connected low power computing (in the size of a smoke alarm) used for interacting wirelessly with user-centred zones of sensors and devices.
  • Opening up related interest to this type of IoT solution architecture including healthcare, transportation, security and other public services.

A full presentation by the students was delivered on Feb 18th 2014, at Microsoft's Victoria Office in London. This was presented to the Advanced Teaching Group panel from UCL CS, the CTO of Microsoft's Cloud UK, Microsoft UK technical staff, the UK Housing Associations CEOs and also the Managing Director of the largest Housing Associations software, who contributed towards the software systems integration. The feedback was that of a significantly stunned and greatly appreciative client base! The students gave a thorough and well explained story to their hardware, software and services solution, with live demonstrations, from start to finish.

Our sincerest thanks to Paul, Geoff, Rob and David at Microsoft UK  and especially the outstanding student teams for making this collaborative project possible!


Posted 19 Feb 14 15:34