Industry Links Overview
The Faculty of Computing and Engineering interacts with industry
and other organisations in
many different ways. The main areas involved are:
The teaching in the Faculty is strongly vocational with an emphasis
on developing practical skills. This ensures that graduates are immediately
ready for a career in industry. This is the main objective for most of them
but the courses also prepare students for further study at postgraduate level.
- Course Development.
The requirements of industry are reviewed regularly to confirm the currency
of the courses offered and to identify new requirements or opportunities.
- Placement Students.Undergraduates who take computing as their
main subject spend their third year working on a Placement in industry.
On successful completion, they are awarded a Diploma. The undergraduate
programmes are structured to provide each student with the necessary technical
skills and personal qualities to make them valuable to a Placement employer.
Many students, having impressed their employers, are offered full-time
positions after graduation.
- Undergraduate Projects.Undergraduate students tackle a
substantial individual project in the final year of their chosen course.
These projects may be defined by the academic staff in the Faculty or
proposed by students returning from Placement, building on the knowledge
they have gained. In some cases the projects may involve the Placement
- Masters Projects.Students studying for an MSc degree complete
a substantial project for the award. Some of the projects are offered and
jointly supervised by industry.
- PhD Projects.Some PhD projects are sponsored by industry
through the CAST & CASE Award Schemes or by individual contracts.
Typically, the student tackles a topic that is of strategic interest to
the organisation concerned and of research interest to the academic
supervisors who oversee the project within the University.
- Student Internships.In some cases students may spend time
working in industry on 'internships'. Over the past two years, for example,
CISCO has offered four-month research internships in the US for students on
PhD and Masters Courses in the School at Coleraine. So far nine students have
taken part in the scheme, most of whom are studying for a PhD.
- Student Sponsorship.Some students are sponsored by industry
during their study. This may be for the full period of a course or during
the final year of an undergraduate programme after Placement. Currently,
these are arranged directly by the students, without the School being
involved. With increasing fees it seems likely that interest in these
types of award will grow.
- Student Prizes.A range of prizes is available for award to
the most successful students. Some of these prizes are offered by professional
bodies, such as the British Computer Society, but most are from industry.
Examples include the Kainos Prize for the best final year undergraduate
project in each of the computing Schools.
- Undergraduate Competitions.Some organisations run student
competitions that the students can enter individually or with School
support. In 2007, for example, a student group at Coleraine competed
in the Microsoft Imagine Cup, winning second place in the all Ireland
final, for a project on linguistic phonics
- Collaborative Projects.Most research in the Faculty
is undertaken through funded projects in partnership with industry.
- Research Centres.Research can also be undertaken through
formal research centres. For example, the Centre for Software Process
Technologies (CSPT), which was established in 2002 as a Centre of Excellence
in Software Engineering, engages in research and knowledge transfer aimed at
supporting the economic and commercial growth of software development
organisations in Northern Ireland.
- KTP Projects.Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
(KTP) evolved from the Teaching Company Scheme (TCS). KTP is a funding
mechanism for joint research and development projects between industry and
academia. The University of Ulster has a strong history of success in the
area, both in terms of the number of awards made
and in project achievements.
The University also hosts a KTP project support centre.
Fusion Projects.The FUSION programme
is managed by InterTradeIreland,
an organisation set up to promote business relationships between the North
and South of Ireland. The University is currently involved in a
substantial number of these projects.
- Short Courses.On request, the Faculty can organise training
courses on new technologies for industry. In the past, for example, these
have included courses on Internet Application Development and
- Consultancy. On request, academic staff can provide services for
industry on a consultancy basis. Examples include acting as an
'expert witness', reviewing technological support in an organisation,
reviewing commissioned reports, sitting on interviews panels, and
reporting on a specific technology issue or development.
- Staff Internships.Academic staff can spend periods of time
outside the University studying or working on specific projects in other
organisations. These may be funded by the University, the hosting
institution or supported through independent schemes promoting collaborative
work, such as the
Royal Academy of Engineering.
- Spin-Out Companies. Occasionally, research work produces results
with commercial potential. One particularly successful example is
Causeway Data Communications (CDC), whose main product is
Spatialest, a GIS package for property
appraisal. InvestNI and the University are shareholders in the company.