We have a record number of clients this year working with our second year Computer Science Students to develop a software product for them. Bristol City Council Museums, Galleries and Archives, Potato (a cloud development company), @Bristol (a Science Learning Centre) and Knowle West Media Centre are just a few of the companies and centres posing software development projects for this year's students to work on.
There are twelve groups this year working in teams of 5-6 students to develop software solutions for their clients. This forms the assessment for a compulsory unit on Software Product Engineering for all second year Computer Science undergraduate students which takes place through both academic semesters (September – May).
The clients that have worked with us in the past have relished the opportunity to not only have a piece of software developed for them but also to have access to our students minds and capabilities. IBM, one of our clients from last year, was so pleased with their product that they ended up persuading two of the students who worked on the project to take a year out from study to work with them full time. Two other student groups had papers accepted and presented their work at relevant peer-reviewed academic conferences.
This is a great opportunity and experience for the students - being thrown in the deep end of real world software development working with a real customer. This allows them to experience all the issues that would come up in a software development industry setting but in a safe and supporting environment. Teams are not only supported by academic staff but also a technical mentor to help guide them on their development journey. What the groups produce is not only impressive but also fantastic for their CVs - instead of not another piece of coursework sitting on the department's repository these software products are out in the real world being used by real customers.