Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards 2015 – Abertay University undergraduate lifts coveted award

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A student from Abertay University has been named Young Software Engineer of the Year 2015. Peeter Parna won first prize for an outstanding project combining fluid dynamics, gaming and advanced programming. This is the first time a student from Abertay has won this coveted award.

Second place went to Marija Pinkute, a University of Edinburgh student whose project is aimed at the automatic generation of Tweet messages for news articles. Third place was won by Damien Anderson, from the University of Strathclyde, for his project on generalised Video Game playing.

The Lockheed Martin Software Engineering Project Award went to Archibald ‘Sam’ Elliot, from the University of St Andrews, for developing a concurrency system for Idris and Erlang.

The Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards, now in their 26th year, are given to the best undergraduate software projects, drawn from across all students studying computer science and software engineering in Scotland. Each university submits the best final year undergraduate software engineering project from amongst their students.

The Awards are organised by ScotlandIS, the trade body for the digital technologies industry and were presented at the ScotSoft2015 dinner in front of over 600 guests from across the industry.

Brilliant young minds defying computing science and programming

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Peeter Parna combined his fascination with fluid dynamics and his interest in gaming in his project. His research involved GPU programming and investigating methods for liquid simulation with real-time applications. Using complex mathematics and parallel processing Peeter concluded that physically based liquid simulation on GPUs is feasible for interactive applications, such as computer games, if and if only care is taken with the stability of the simulation methods.

Peeter Parna Abertay

 

Peeter Parna is a graduate of the Abertay University. He was born in Estonia and moved to Scotland for his Bachelor’s degree. He was struggling to decide what subject he should study at a higher level, torn between theoretical physics and information technology. He mentioned this to his close group of friends over the internet, with whom he spent hours playing online games. One of them happened to be from Dundee and mentioned the game programming courses at Abertay University. He decided to fly over to check out the university and was so impressed he chose their Computer Games Technology course.

This project was considered to be exceptional by the judges, and Peeter received a cheque for £2500 from prize sponsor Sopra Steria, and the Young Software Engineer of the Year trophy given by ScotlandIS.

The aim of Marija Pinkute’s project is to automatically generate summary tweet messages from news articles. Going further than current title and caption generation systems, her model takes an article, selects the most important pieces of information and combines them together to produce a more complete subject of 140 characters.

Marija Pinkute University of Edinburgh

 

Marija Pinkute is a University of Edinburgh student about to receive a First Class Masters of Informatics (MInf) with Honours degree. Marija lived and studied in four different countries before completing the International Diploma Programme in her homeland Lithuania. She entered directly into the second year of Computer Science (BSc) at the University of Edinburgh. After two years, she switched to the MInf degree. Her academic interests lie in Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Software Engineering.

Marija received a cheque for £2000 from sponsor BCS, and a trophy from ScotlandIS.

Damien Anderson researched one of the challenges of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the ability for an intelligent agent to solve multiple and different problems. AI works well where the constraints of a problem are known but less well in unknown scenarios. Using video games as a test base, Damien sought to identify how moving beyond Monte Carlo tree theory you could successfully programme intelligent agents to respond well in evolving situations where all the parameters are not predetermined. As humans are exceptionally good at responding to unknown situations, Damien developed a model that mimicked human interactions in similar circumstances.

Damien Anderson Strathclyde Uni

 

Damien enrolled on a course in Digital Media, which led to an HND in Software Development at Central College of Glasgow. Originally intending to pursue a career in video games, he decided instead to study for a Software Engineering degree at Strathclyde University. It was during the third year of his course that Damien was introduced to the theory and application of Artificial Intelligence. He won a one year industrial placement at CERN creating machine protection software for particle accelerators, which he says was a fantastic experience.

Damien received a cheque for £1500 from third prize sponsor FanDuel, and a trophy from ScotlandIS.

Finally, the project developed by Archibald ‘Sam’ Elliot takes an important step towards addressing the problem of writing large scale software. It combines Idris, a new programming language developed at the University of St Andrews, with Erlang, a programming language designed for building robust distributed systems, creating a system for running programs in a robust, industrial strength, concurrent environment.

Archibald ‘Sam’ Elliot St Andrews Uni

 

Sam has just graduated from the University of St Andrews, where he has been studying Computer Science. Next, he will be starting a PhD at the University of Washington, Seattle, pursuing ideas in this area. He was born and brought up in Edinburgh, and now lives on a farm in the Scottish Borders. After finish school in 2009, he briefly worked for a timber engineering firm in Germany before returning to the UK and moving into software development.

Sam received a cheque for £1500 from sponsor Lockheed Martin, and his university, St Andrews, received the Lockheed Martin Software Engineering Project trophy.

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