VSJ – December 2008 – Work in Progress

The IAP Prize for Best Software Development Project

Regular readers may remember that, exactly a year ago, we announced in these pages the inauguration of the IAP Software Development Prize for final year university undergraduates. In the same issue, we reported that the University of Plymouth had been selected as the first to be offered the scheme.

We are delighted to report now that the first recipient of the prize is John Thompson, who formally received it from Alastair Revell, FIAP in late September (see photo). John achieved a first class award in BSc (Hons) Computing Informatics, with one of the highest grade averages ever obtained in the history of the course. He is currently working for the NHS in the South West in a business analysis role.

Alastair, who was hugely instrumental in helping to establish the prize, commented: “John Thompson is clearly a very talented software developer. The Institution selected the University of Plymouth as the first in the country to be allowed to award this prize precisely because of its reputation in the field, which has been clearly reflected today by the calibre and employability of one of its top graduates.”

Dr Andy Phippen, a Senior Lecturer at the University and the Programme Manager for the BSc(Hons) Computing Informatics course, added: “We were delighted to be given the opportunity by the Institution of Analysts and Programmers to provide this award for our students. Our University prides itself on the industrial relevance of its programmes and the employability of its graduates. John has a bright future within the IT industry and this prize highlights the fact he is a top quality graduate”

John describes below the nature of the problem he set out to solve:

“NHS Primary Care Trusts need to collect a good deal of up-to-date information from the computers within General Practices in order to perform management functions effectively. Current methods of collecting performance, reporting and research data from GPs’ computer systems often involve writing proprietary searches (MIQUEST queries) to floppy disk and sending and receiving the queries and results by courier. These methods are slow, labour intensive, error prone and constitute a risk to data security. In order to improve this data collection process, I specified, designed, built and tested a computer system to assist with the distribution and collection of MIQUEST queries. This provided a proof-of-concept for a possible future commercial build.”

John had first to understand the necessary processes by working with all the project stakeholders. He then built a UML model (which constituted about 40% of the project) and implemented the system in Java, to minimise portability issues. Because of its design criteria, the system is also easy to expand.

We’re very grateful to Alastair and Andy for their help in developing and administering the prize at Plymouth. We also congratulate John on his award, on the successful completion of his degree and on his election to IAP membership. Welcome, John!

Would you like to involve your local university in this scheme? If so, email Robin Jones at eo@iap.org.uk to discuss how to go about it.

[Interesting project or development? Let us know at eo@iap.org.uk!]

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