Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The week of the NZCSRSC'08

Taken from the May 2008 CSANZ Newsletter[PDF]
Moffat MathewsThe sound of bagpipes signified the start of this weeklong, immersive conference. From the opening ceremony on Monday to the goodbyes on Friday – it was a packed and exhilarating week! Run by students for students, it was a week full of events focused on the needs of postgraduate NZ ICT students. The Deputy Mayor of Christchurch Norm Withers welcomed the 135 participants (about 110 students) from all eight universities to the Garden City, the ICT hub of New Zealand. Pro Vice Chancellor (UC) Peter Jackson opened the NZCSRSC 2008, motivating students to participate and engage as much as possible over the week. The Father of the NZCSRSC Ian Witten, and Dr. Darin Graham (Director, NZi3) talked about the NZCSRSC, the ICT students, and the state of the ICT world today. After the opening ceremony, Tony Dale (BlueFern) gave a presentation of the world-class supercomputing available here, followed by tours of the UC supercomputer facility.

Over the next few days there were five student presentation sessions featuring 26 paper presentations and a poster session with 24 poster talks, showcasing the high quality, diverse, cutting-edge research produced here in NZ. Congratulations to Shaoqun Wu and Edmond Zhang for winning the best presentation and best poster awards respectively. These were presented by University of Canterbury Vice Chancellor Roy
Sharp at the closing ceremony.

There were four inspiring keynote speakers. Businessperson and public speaker Martz Witty entertained and educated the participants on presentation and social networking skills. Edwin Dando (CEO, Clarus) encouraged participants to ‘Strive for Excellence’, combining his story of success with practical software engineering and quality management principles. Dave Lane (CEO, Egressive) in his talk ‘The Open Road; Doing the Right Thing and Making a Living’ brought in the aspects of open source, open standards, ethics, and values in the ICT world. David Park (CEO, Geospatial Research Centre) in ‘Be confident in who you are and what you do’ combined practical words of wisdom illustrating them with examples from his life and the various projects he has managed. Experts engaged in active discussion with participants on topics affecting an ICT student’s Present and Future skills, in eight workshop topics. Students were able to discuss the reality of life in industry (e.g. risk management, agile processes etc) in seven casual and interactive chalk’n’talk sessions with software developers.

The social night allowed participants to mingle and make contacts over a delicious BBQ to the sounds of a live Jazz band.

We also had the traditional “Ian Witten and Tim Bell music session”, this time with Gian Perrone. This was followed by the Comedy Night at the Ngaio Marsh, which included performances from the Court Jesters and the Aranui Theatre Company.

The industry event was another time of building social networks. After the dinner and sponsors’ talks, students were able to mingle with industry reps (HR and technical) from local industry at the Human Interfaces Technology (HIT) Lab at UC. This also included playing around on many of the cool demos displayed.

Over 40 people participated in the CSUnplugged Workshop, aimed at promoting the innovative, internationally renowned CSUnplugged educational concept throughout NZ. CSUnplugged is a home-grown initiative, started by Tim Bell that teaches computing concepts to school kids without the use of a computer. The workshop included seminars, ‘real-live’ demonstrations with students from Chisnallwood Intermediate School, and hands-on sessions.

We’re grateful to all those who helped in the organising and running of this conference including the local contacts, ICT departments, authors (reviewers), supporters, and volunteers.

Special thanks go to the premium sponsors: BuildIT, NZi3, Orion Health, and the University of Canterbury.

NZCSRSC 2009 is now being organised by Rachel Blagojevic, Carl Schultz, and the Auckland uni team. We're looking forward to April 2009!

Pics from the NZCSRSC'08 are available online