UCL-CS completes first International Software Engineering event

UCL-NII Tokyo joint robotics engineering team, 2011
NXT 2.0 Custom Platform for Robotics Engineering
UCL-CS with NII TopSE students hard at work
Dr Tanabe Yoshinori, Dr Dean Mohamedally and Prof. Honiden

UCL-CS has completed its first International Software Engineering (ISE) event held by TopSE at the National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo Japan. Led by Dr. Dean Mohamedally, a Senior Teaching Fellow in UCL-CS's Software Systems Engineering Group, a party of Software Systems Engineering and UCL-CS students were cordially welcomed by Prof. Shinichi Honiden and Dr Tanabe Yoshinori of NII Tokyo.

Dr. Mohamedally summarised what was achieved:

"Our students were given an extensive one week project to construct a robotics solution using full software engineering methodologies using mixed teams from UCL-CS and NII Tokyo. The aim was to demonstrate communications through software engineering practices and collaborate at an international level in each of the sections of the lifecycle. The task was based on the theme of constructionism - learning by actively doing, using problem-based learning groups - thereby reducing the amount of instruction taught (in Japanese) and raising the collaborative nature of learning. Each team was given state of the art sensors and software libraries to work with with ready made template robots using the Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 platform. MSc and PhD qualified candidates from TopSE at NII Tokyo were chosen as collaborative team mates for the UCL teams. They included participants from companies such as Toshiba, Fujitsu, University of Tokyo, Unisys, SCSK and NTT Data. Waterfall and XP style development techniques were used.

Our UCL-CS team did an outstanding duty for their university, meeting our host expectations in all sessions with very high engineering standards. Even the day after jetlag from their 12 hour flight, they each managed to install the robot firmware (operating system code) on their first day and launched straight into goal modelling and requirement elicitation. They were led by EngD candidate, Jozef Dobos, who gave several presentations on robotics software UML design and evaluation. Jozef acted as Team Captain for UCL-CS, providing oversight and management of the team. We had two strong C programming and algorithms specialists, Ms Tianshu Lin (China), and Mr Georgios Gontikas (Greece), a predictive modelling and testing specialist, Ms Zoe Frantzi (Cyprus) and data structures and systems design specialist, Ms Ria Parakh (India). All of the robotics tasks were completed ahead of schedule; this included self-balancing and wandering, obstacle avoidance, tactical sweeping to calculate paths, access to gyroscopes, sonar and infrared sensors, acceleration and turning mechanics and even robot "parking".   

We were also given several visits by kind offer of NII Tokyo, to meet with the Head of R&D at NTT Data, Dr Tsuyhoshi Kitani (Carnegie Mellon) and with a team at Nihon Unisys who work on disaster recovery solutions. We have seen the state of the art in grid based crowdsourcing for mobiles, cloud resourcing hardware and a formal activity method for software engineers that brings development time down by up to 30% using Eclipse and Java. We also saw large scale M2M (machine to machine) concepts and discussed vitally needed changes to engineering design for operations disaster recovery systems, fault tolerance and emergency backup scenarios.

Overall, both TopSE and UCL-CS have successfully conducted a joint venture with scope for future engineering development. The industry sector for international software engineering teams is growing significantly as companies rely more on technologies and processes from multiple regions of the world. Bringing this process into academia is the next logical step.