Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Seasons Greetings!

It's Christmas - the end of 2007. Time for relaxing and reflecting on the year that's been... for enjoying the company of friends, family, and all the things that we've most likely had very little time for during the year. Time also to start making silly resolutions that we would most likely never keep!

Seasons greetings from the NZCSRSC 2008 Organising Committee As we look back here at the NZCSRSC, we can see just how much we have accomplished in such a short time. It is great to be part of a team of people that are committed and passionate about what they do - a team that extends through all the eight universities in NZ. It is also exciting to be part of creating our future - and affecting the future of NZ ICT.

On behalf of the NZCSRSC family here, I'd like to wish you all the best for the season - including a fabulous Christmas and a fantastic New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Introducing David Park and the Geospatial Research Centre

David Park Dr David Park is the founder and director of the Geospatial Research Centre (GRC) in Christchurch. The GRC is a joint venture between The University of Nottingham, The University of Canterbury, Canterbury Development Corporation and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. David moved to New Zealand to set up the GRC in 2006; it was officially launched in April 2007. Recently, we were privileged to meet with David and see the GRC first-hand.

NZCSRSC: The GRC is probably one of the fastest growing centres in NZ ICT. But it's so much more than a university department. Can you tell us more about it?

David: The Geospatial Research Centre is a university owned, university based company. We are trying to implement a reasonably novel set-up where permanent company employees are integrated in a single, cohesive team with University support staff (finance, HR, PR, administration, etc) and students at undergraduate, Masters and PhD levels. The students are physically located within the company premises and are working on commercial projects and activities as part of their course of study or research (yes - we do pay reasonable rates!).

NZCSRSC: Often when we think of opportunities in the ICT field we think of other bigger countries. What made you choose NZ?

David: I was looking for a country or region in the world that had no incumbent in the space I wanted to play in, was actively looking to support and grow its ICT sector and had a good mix of companies and opportunities - all wrapped in an environment that would be a positive help in attracting staff and students! New Zealand was top of the list and since our initial approach to the NZ Embassy in London in 2005 we've never looked back. We are now successfully securing and completing contract work from companies in the US, UK and New Zealand.

NZCSRSC: David, your passion and enthusiasm is infectious. What/who inspires you?

David: Good question! I can't say that I have been explicitly inspired by a single individual in either my personal life or the wider world. However, I have always believed that it is important to get a balance between work and home priorities and that you should always "give it a go" if you have an idea or dream. These two themes underpin much of what I do and are probably a result of listening to a number of individuals during my life. It is always worth listening and trying to learn from others, especially in terms of what really matters in the long term.

NZCSRSC: How is your family adapting to life in NZ? I hear you are about to have an addition to your family.

David: I am happily married and have three boys (currently aged 6, 3 and 15 months). We are expecting the arrival of #4 baby on 11th January 2008 so there may be a few more sleepless nights ahead for me through next year! The family is settling in OK. Galen, my eldest, is going to a great local school and we all love living by the beach - it's great to be able to take the dog out for a walk in the late evening and unwind.
The kids are already picking up the local accent and it will be a positive step to have a true Kiwi baby in the house in a few weeks time.

NZCSRSC: Thanks David! We wish you the best of luck with the family and look forward to hearing from you next year.

David Park will be speaking during the NZCSRSC'08. If you have any questions or comments for David please post them in the comments section.Geospatial Research Centre

Friday, December 7, 2007

The committed comittee.

Andrew McKenzieOrganising a conference of this scale is no mean feat.

Planning started early in April with a small feasibility committee. In October, the committee became a Government. 8 new members, myself included, were recruited bringing the total number of student organisers to 13. Each member was given a "ministry portfolio" outlining their responsibilities on the committee.

Ministries and their Ministers include:
  • Department of the Prime Minister General Chair (Moffat Mathews)
  • The Treasury Treasurer (Jason Alexander)
  • Ministry of Justice Programme Chair (Delio Brignoli, Amanda Nicholas, Jay Holland)
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs Secretary (Andrew Mckenzie)
  • Ministry of Broadcasting Publicity (Sascha Rehbock)
  • Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage Events (Xianglin Deng, Sharon Duan)
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Other Universities (Amali Weerasinghe)
  • Ministry of State Services Accommodation + Catering (Ray Hidayat, Devon Barrow)
  • Ministry of Transport Transportation (Mohammad Obaid)
As Minister of Internal Affairs, I'm responsible for general management, communication and administration within the committee. This involves tasks like chasing up ministers, co-ordinating our weekly meeting, and organising our internal wiki and blog.

Over the next couple of months, one of the things I'll be chasing up our ministers about is writing blog posts giving some insight into what they do. I'm hoping for about one a week, so watch this space.

Andrew, Minister of Internal Affairs, is starting to realise how inaccurate the movie "The Secretary" is.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Lunch and info session at UC goes down well

Sascha RehbockTo promote the conference to our local students, we organised and hosted a lunch and informal information session at UC. Students and some staff responded to the emails and door knocking (nothing like a bit of peer pressure) and followed the smell of pizzas to the gathering in the staff tea room. Jason Alexander (our Minister of Finance) kicked off the session with a presentation about the NZCSRSC, complete with pictures from the last conference.

Tim Bell, Brent Martin, and Tanja Mitrovic spoke about previous conferences that they had attended and the benefits for students. Tim was at the very first conference. Warwick Irwin also showed his “Top Five Presentation” award from a NZCSRSC he had attended as a student. Apparently that year, six people received the award! Go figure.
NZCSRSC 2008 Lunch and info session
After the informal talks, students and staff mingled over pizza and drinks, talking about various aspects of the conference. It was great to see interest from students – including final-year undergraduate students considering postgraduate study options.

It is also good to see the effect that events like this have on the morale in the department.

Sascha, the Minister of Broadcasting, is wondering if there is a better bribe than pizza for students.

NZCSRSC Sponsor:

The NZCSRSC 2008 lunch and info session at the University of Canterbury was sponsored by CSUnplugged.