Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Taken from the May 2009 CSANZ Newsletter

The 7th New Zealand Computer Science Research Student Conference (NZCSRSC ’09) was held at the University of Auckland from 6-9 April 2009. The NZCSRSC is a truly unique and significant event, being the only dedicated ICT student conference in New Zealand. Moreover, NZCSRSC is organised and run entirely by postgraduate students.

The aim of the NZCSRSC is to establish and reinforce a nationwide community of ICT research students. It provides an opportunity for students to establish contacts and share their research with graduates from across New Zealand, and members of the wider community.

This year’s NZCSRSC, like past years, was an action packed week! We opened the conference with a powhiri where we heard an incredibly moving and sincere speech from Prof. Ian Witten from the University of Waikato, and enthusiastic welcoming words from the University of Auckland’s Acting Dean of Science, Prof. Alan Lee and Computer Science Head of Dept. at the University of Auckland, Assoc. Prof Robert Amor.

Following the official welcome we moved to the Fale Pacifika for the Endace Opening Dinner. Here we were treated to a truly unique performance from the Auckland Playback Theatre who took real stories about the lives of postgraduate students from the audience and replayed them, in a somewhat embellished version. Very entertaining!

During the week we had the chance to hear about the cutting edge of research in Computer Science here in NZ with 25 student presentations and 14 student posters. Congratulations to Matthew Jervis for winning the best poster award on Augmented Document Trays and Lech Szymanski for the best presentation on Building a Support Vector Machine using a Neural Network.

We also heard fascinating and inspiring talks from keynote speakers. Dr. Alan Blackwell from the University of Cambridge spoke about Interdisciplinary Design Research for Interactive Technology, J.P. Lewis from Weta Digital explained Why academic research matters to Weta Digital and Assoc. Prof. Poul Nielsen from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and Department of Engineering Science here at the University of Auckland presented The Physiome Project: a framework for understanding ourselves through computational modelling.

In keeping with NZCSRSC tradition we ran a range of workshops aimed at building skills in research and beyond. And as in previous years the workshops were a great success, with topics ranging from staple favourites such as “The publication game” and thesis writing, to discussions about industry, research careers, presentation skills and time management. Also, during lunch on Wednesday we held discussion groups where each table discussed interesting topics in Computer Science ranging from advances in specialised fields to ethics and the wider community.

Of course NZCSRSC ’09 would not be complete without the Orion Health Social Night! On Tuesday night we were whisked away for a pleasant dinner cruise around Auckland harbour including a team quiz onboard. It was a night to relax, enjoy the beautiful views and indulge in the wonderful company!

On Wednesday night we held an industry dinner. This was a mix and mingle event where companies prepared stalls with information, and students were invited to visit each stall and chat with industry representatives about their experiences in the ICT industry.

What NZCSRSC would be complete without a little live music? Thanks to Prof. Ian Witten and Hong Yul Yang for providing us with some tunes during the closing lunch on Thursday. To complete Auckland’s four seasons in one week, the conference closed with a spectacular hail storm. What a week!!

We would like to thank all those who helped in the organisation and running of this conference including local contacts, volunteers, authors, keynotes, workshop presenters and the departments around the country who encouraged and supported their students to participate in NZCSRSC ‘09. We would like to extend a special thank you to our leading sponsors, BuildIT, Orion Health, Endace and the University of Auckland.

In terms of meeting the conference goals, I can confidently say that the NZCSRSC has had a significant impact on strengthening the ICT research student community in NZ. What does this mean in practical terms? It means that we, as students, feel connected to a group of people who can understand and identify with our experience as research students. For many of us, this was a chance to meet with old friends again, as well as meeting new people this year. We are learning more and more about the ICT research that is done in this country. NZCSRSC is about getting us out from behind those computer screens and putting us face to face with the cutting edge of Computer Science research in NZ and the research students who are behind it all. Our hope is that it may continue for many years to come, and we simply can’t wait to see what the next NZCSRSC have in store for us!

Rachel Blagojevic
On behalf of the NZCSRSC ’09 organising committee
For more information visit https://nzcsrsc09.auckland.ac.nz/