Innovation strikes back

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Innovation strikes back

People who have read this blog may recall that I spent last summer at the IT Innovation Centre. For those unfamiliar, IT Innovation is a company which is owned by the University Of Southampton and develops ideas generated at ECS with partners from industry. My original intention this summer had been to put my feet up and relax. I mean, how often does someone get the opportunity to lounge about for four months in preparation for a gruelling academic session? However I received an invitation by Matthew Addis of IT Innovation to return for second stint as an intern.

I’ll be honest to say that I wasn’t entirely convinced that going back was a great idea, since I’m familiar with the old adage in football that one must never go back. Having enjoyed the previous summer there, it wasn’t a hard decision to do a volte-face and this would also ease any financial worries.

As always with IT Innovation, the development of prototypes usually involves getting stuck into some cutting edge technology. Internships or any other role in an IT company will usually involve working with existing technology and complying with convention. This is also true at IT Innovation, but to a much lesser extent. This means the opportunity to learn new skills and also demonstrate the ability to pick up the current trend.

However, my experience was a different from my previous year. In my first summer it was working collaboratively on different components of the same project plus a large chunk of virtualisation to boot. In this instance, I was paired with an Operational Research student whose work was to form part of his thesis. This stand-alone project involved producing a model related to PrestoPRIME. What is PrestoPRIME? This is a European level project existing to handle problems in the preservation of digital archives. Organisations such as partners like the BBC in the UK and the Institut national de l’audiovisuel in France have a need and responsibility to maintain these archives and require to plan ahead.

First time around, I was involved in the development of Avatar-M, which was a software implementation of an archive system. This year, my work on PrestoPRIME essentially evolved developing a front-end for a model to determine the rules for such software. This was an interesting challenge as I found myself in the world of client-side scripting on web browsers. Hence this involved a dip into Javascript (using JQuery, jqplot) and HTML5.

I’d recommend any student at ECS (and beyond), who is interested in the implementation of research, to apply to IT Innovation for an internship since it is both intellectually challenging, but in a relaxed working environment. My thanks to Matthew Addis, Stephen Phillips, and my wingman for the summer, Jake Bai.

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