Innovation community

It is part of our mission to foster and support a community of innovators within the university. We do this in a number of ways including collaboration with schools and departments from across the university,  engaging with external sponsors or through our ITIC Student Internship Programme.

You can find more information below:

Student Projects 2018

Project Title

Project Description

University of Birmingham Virtual Lab

The University is investing in a Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) facility, bringing together teaching activities across a broad range of science and engineering disciplines.

The vision for the CTL is to become a hub for science & engineering teaching, with multifunctional labs suitable for subject-specific and cross-disciplinary teaching and team working; social and break-out spaces to support informal learning; modern, state-of-the-art space to support the needs of diverse learners; and multi-functional space to reach out to schools and non-science students. 

The CTL vision addresses the challenge of handling increased demand for STEM at a time when both pedagogy and technology are changing rapidly. Drawing on lessons from similar national and international facilities, the CTL will replace traditional, discipline-specific labs, and will allow for a range of innovative teaching methods to be used, beyond the “classical bench laboratory” model. The use of modern, high tech IT systems (especially virtual technologies) will enhance laboratory experience and increase infrastructure sustainability. Furthermore it will reflect industry working practices by offering opportunities to practise inter-disciplinary working. 

This project will look at prototyping ideas using virtual reality, immersive technologies, gesture controlled or any innovative use of educational technology in the classroom. 

Electronic Notebooks for

UoB Collaborative Teaching Lab(CTL)

The University is investing in a Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) facility, bringing together teaching activities across a broad range of science and engineering disciplines.

The vision for the CTL is to become a hub for science & engineering teaching, with multifunctional labs suitable for subject-specific and cross-disciplinary teaching and team working; social and break-out spaces to support informal learning; modern, state-of-the-art space to support the needs of diverse learners; and multi-functional space to reach out to schools and non-science students. 

The CTL vision addresses the challenge of handling increased demand for STEM at a time when both pedagogy and technology are changing rapidly. Drawing on lessons from similar national and international facilities, the CTL will replace traditional, discipline-specific labs, and will allow for a range of innovative teaching methods to be used, beyond the “classical bench laboratory” model. The use of modern, high tech IT systems (especially virtual technologies) will enhance laboratory experience and increase infrastructure sustainability. Furthermore it will reflect industry working practices by offering opportunities to practise inter-disciplinary working. 

This projects looks at building a proof of concept for an electronic notebook to be used in the CTL. 

Use of Immersive Technology to Train

Social Workers in the College of Social Sciences

Academics from Social Sciences are using immersive technology to do virtual training of social workers. This project involves working with the IT Innovation Centre and academics in CoSS to develop a number of immersive scenarios using Google Cardboard and purposedly built mobile apps. 

Gesture Control Technology for the University Lapworth Museum

Gesture control technologies allow users to engage in virtual activities and interact with digital content using intuitive motion and movements. The aim is to improve the user experience and the interaction between users and computers by allowing users to use simple gestures to control computers in a way that replicates movements and gestures made in everyday life. This touch-free approach facilitates new ways of user-computer interaction that look and feel very different from traditional approaches (i.e. interaction via keyboard and mouse, touch screen etc.).

This project will explore how this innovative and rapidly growing field of technology can be used to provide new ways of exploring museum palaeontological collections to allow enhanced formal and informal learning opportunities. In addition to providing an exciting, user-defined interactive encounter with fossil specimens, other potential benefits include being able to examine 3D models of specimens that can only be fully understood when it is possible study the object from different views. This will enhance the way people can interact with objects that might be static within display cases within a museum exhibition environment. The technology will also provide novel opportunities for investigations of palaeontological objects that might not otherwise be accessible, due to fragility, conservation requirements or rarity.

The project will involve developing a proof-of-concept to use gesture controlled devices to interact with 3D models of specimens in the museum. 

Chatbots

This project involves building chatbox to improve customer experience for the IT Services Helpdesk.

Information Security Log Scanning

Feasibility study and prototype of a way to centralise application and system logs and to scan them for patterns denoting security breaches and potential cyber-attacks.

Due to the huge volume of data, it is suggested to use the BEAR high performance computing facility with HADOOP to implement large scale log scanning in parallel. Or suggest alternatives.

The project would be to investigate and report on the feasibility of this approach, and preferably implement a working prototype.

Management and disposal of the log files themselves would be an optional feature.  This could include ways of reducing the size of the files through de-duping, compression etc.

Information Security Checks

Conduct an analysis of the effectiveness of information security controls in force at the University that could be part of an annual ‘plan-do-check-act’ cycle.

The scope of the study would include not only technical analysis of controls but also staff surveys covering policies, training, anti-phishing, social engineering etc.

Phishing

Phishing is a major problem in the University.  In the autumn term over 50 sets of credentials are known to have been compromised through phishing attacks.  Furthermore, important University communications are sometimes mistaken for phishing attacks.   The University tries to educate users, but very little is understood about what makes a user respond to a message and whether characteristics of the message or website are likely to influence response rates.  Better understanding in this area should help improve user education and our own communications.

The aim of the project would be to find out more about why users respond and in particular whether the look and branding of a message and website makes responses more likely.

The project would involve a user educational exercise by mounting a simulated phishing attack on a selection of our users with branded and unbranded versions of messages and websites.  If users gave their credentials away, the site would inform them of the dangers of responding to phishing attacks. This would be followed by a questionnaire sent out to those who had been subject to the attacks about why they did or did not respond. 

Securing Intelligent Networked Devices

Recently, a compromised network attached fridge sending spam hit the headlines.  This highlighted a growing problem with devices connected to the network which are not perceived as computers by those connecting them.

There are many such devices including printers and cameras that pose a security risk if unsecured, because as attackers can take control of them for a variety of illicit purposes.  In addition to sending spam, devices have been used for denial of service attacks, serving web pages and gaining access to confidential material.

The project would aim to develop a scanning tool which finds unsecured devices within an address range, identifies them and reports on them with the option to secure these devices once found.  Development would initially focus on a small range of printers known to be susceptible to security issues, but be configurable to include other devices if the approach proves to be viable. 

Mobile Learning

Design and development of  mobile apps with an innovation value.

Internet of Things

Design/Evaluation of Internet of Things applications.

3D Interactive Data Visualisation

with Gesture Control 

Using gesture control technology (Leap Motion/Kinect) to interact with 3D visual data representations. Eg: using gestures to “slice” and manipulate different data fields on a 3D data visualisation.

Previous interns    

Adhi Wicaksono

Adhi is a 2nd year PhD student at the School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham. His research interest is in behaviour change intervention, where he investigates the impact of a technologically-mediated intervention on human behaviour using context-aware systems.

Rujia Li

Rujia is a master student who is learning advanced computer science. He will continue his PhD at the University of Birmingham and SusTech. His research interests lie in the field of the blockchain, internet of things security, applied cryptography and distributed database secure. He is currently investigating the public-ledger-based applications which using the blockchain to solve the longstanding problem over fake academic certificates. 

Yifan Wu

Yifan is a master student in School of Computer Science. He is currently working on the BlockCerts project to build a blockchain-based credential verification system. He is a computer geek and enjoys talking the new technologies in the daily life.

Andreea Dinca

Andreea is a 3rd year Computer Science student studying MSci Course and so far she has enjoyed programming the most. This summer she will be working on a facial recognition project as part of her internship at the IT Innovation Centre.

Samuel Tebbs

Samuel is currently studying in Computer Science, MSci student having worked on many projects in the past, including one with Majestic SEO last summer. In his spare time he likes to socialise with friends, go to comedy nights and develop his skills in technology. During his time at the Innovation Centre he hopes to learn a lot and will be working on a fingerprint-based security system, which he is very excited about.

Callum Tolley

Callum is a  third year computer science student at UoB. This summer he will be developing an educational video game for the Lapworth Museum of Geology.

Fatma Faruq

Fatma is a first year PhD student in CS. She is currently looking at multi-robot planning algorithms and also the use of formal methods in multi-robot planning for strategy synthesis or verification. As part of the internship she will be working around the theme "Office of the Future", incorporating robots in the office environment - maybe robots that deliver coffee or mail around the office.

Ashley Robertson - shares his experience in IBM

Ashley Robertson was one of the winners in the SMAC 2014. He joined IBM on their graduate scheme in October 2014, immediately after finishing his masters degree in Computer Science at UoB. 

Over the past years he worked on Websphere Liberty, a software framework for hosting Java based web apps, used by a wide range of customers such as some of the major UK banks. During the graduate scheme, he has worked in an agile team on various tasks, including development, testing, infrastructure, articles, documentation, and demonstration to clients at conferences.

The Work is driven by breakthrough areas of software development such as cloud infrastructure, containers for example Docker, and modern application architecture such as micro services.

Outside of his core role,  he has worked in patents, interviewed at assessment centres, worked on side projects such as web apps, and organised and presented at university events.

He has recently been promoted from the graduate scheme and will have his first team move at IBM in the new year.


 Mohammad Ani


completed my BSc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California and I’m currently an MSc. Computer Science student at the University of Birmingham. I have been interested in technology for as long as I can remember and spend most of my day reading and learning about emerging technologies.  

The project I am working on focuses on how to effectively engage and teach students new material through virtual reality. My project will focus on the use of the Oculus Rift DK2 and the Leap Motion to present learning material in an interactive manner that would not be possible on a traditional PC system. 

 Simeon Kostadinov

I am a BSc Computer Science student at the University of Birmingham with a strong interest in innovative technologies. I keep track of the latest inventions as well as the newest trends in the area of computer science. I love developing projects and be part of the rapidly progressing world. 

I am currently working on a project that aims to help university students with their problems regarding the IT services. I am building a chatbot which will answer a wide variety of questions and solve different problems that the students have. I really enjoy my work on this project, I am giving all my best in it and learn a lot of new and cool stuff. 

 Adam Brenner

My name is Adam Brenner, I'm originally from Los Angeles, and I'm currently in the process of completing my final project for the MSc Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. After obtaining my BSc Accountancy from Arizona State University and working in accounting and financial analysis for the last 4 years, I had a clear introduction to the value computers bring to the table. 

One of the main things I notice about how I solve problems now, nearing the end of the degree, is that I think in more abstract ways from the outset and try to look at different levels of detail. I like to use this idea to try and look for interesting questions to ask. That's one of the big reasons data science is an area of interest for me.  

My IT Innovation Centre placement: The goal of my placement is to make complex data more understandable to its end users. I aim to accomplish this by working with the security team within the IT department to analyze reports that will help them to make smart decisions as to where to focus their efforts in the future and how to measure progress so far. The Centre seems very open to allowing me to drive my own project.   

What I am expecting from the internship: I'm enjoying working with people from another department who have entirely different areas of expertise and trying to understand their needs. I'm looking forward to producing something that will benefit the team I'm working with while simultaneously gaining more programming experience.

 Adedayo Omosanya


My background: I am a BSc Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science student at the University of Birmingham and have strong interests in technological innovation. Outside university, I am a freelance iOS developer and thoroughly enjoy getting involved in extra-curricular challenges.   

My placement at the IT Innovation Centre: After winning the SMAC (Student Mobile App Competition) 2014/2015, the ITIC offered me a placement to improve and extend the mobile application I developed for the Lapworth Museum, and I accepted. The application was focused on bringing the visitors experience to life and a major part of doing this was finding innovative ways for users to interact with objects, eventually done using 3D models and openGLES.  

What I enjoyed the most: I always enjoy coding but I especially enjoyed the experience at the ITIC because of the friendly and free-thinking atmosphere created by the members of staff and office space. I looked forward to coming in every day and seeing the new pieces of technology the ITIC had brought in and was glad to have a chance to experiment with them.  

What I learnt from the process: Through the process, I learnt a lot technically, such as openGLES, but also learnt about the software development process as a whole. Not only was I responsible for developing the application, I was also responsible for testing, debugging and maintenance as well as providing regular progress reports and demonstrations. This gave me a holistic outlook to creating an app whereas I had only been involved in the development phase in past experiences. 

Why I would recommend this experience: I would highly recommend a placement at the ITIC to anyone who enjoys working with technology. Whether you want to work on something very specific or want to experiment with a range of technology, the ITIC are very flexible in accommodating your wishes and take every opportunity to credit your work. A combination of the office, people and technology make it an excellent place to develop your career. 

 Lakshmi Gopalarakrishnan


My background: I did my undergraduate in Computer Science and Engineering from India and completed my Masters in Computer Science from University of Birmingham,School of Computer Science. I did my Masters final project on Brain computer interface using facial expressions,  collaborating with the IT Innovation Centre.

My placement at the IT Innovation Centre: My placement at ITIC was about extending my Masters final project on Brain computer Interface. I was working on the possible extension of the technology to help the patients who are paralyzed neck-down by leveraging the various options to integrate the technology to a scientific wheelchair. My work was also about endorsing the technology to the various other schools who may be interested in this technology.

What I enjoyed the most:  Every part of the work was enjoyable. I was working on a project that I was interested in and was getting full support from the team at ITIC. The encouragement and support from the very friendly team at ITIC was a tremendous help. The flexible working hours and the freedom at work was amazing. Having access to all the gadgets at the ITIC was an added perk to the internship.   

What I learnt from the process: The work at ITIC was a continuous learning process. It gave me an option to learn more about the technology apart from the limited time of the masters project and to further try out the various options available with BCI. The internship helped me gain great exposure as I was given the opportunity to present my work to the various heads of the university, school and corporate.It indeed equipped me to be more confident in my skills, both technical and personal. Apart from my work on BCI, I was also fortunate to try and learn various other technologies like Leapmotion and google glass. 

Why I would recommend this experience: I would definitely recommend the placement at ITIC to anyone who is interested in the latest technology and want to try something new with them. ITIC provides you with all the support and exposure that you would ever need, be it any technology that you are interested in. To add to that you will have a wonderful team to work with and a very flexible and relaxed work environment. All these advantages coupled with a handsome pay-cheque makes the placement at ITIC irresistible.   

Further thoughts: I felt that in ITIC you are considered part of the team and not just as as intern which gives you an amazing opportunity to be part of the various events organised as a attendee as well as to be part of the organising team. The exposure and independence at work makes the whole experience as an intern here incredible. 

 Rameez Shafsad


My background: I did my bachelors in Computer Science Engineering in India and worked for two years for a leading software company in India.  I did my masters from University of Birmingham in computer science.

My placement at the IT Innovation Centre: My placement was about evaluating splunk as a tool for scanning application server logs.

What I enjoyed the most: The best thing about the internship was that I got the opportunity to work with the latest technology and those that are hot in the field like big data. The work atmosphere was amazing as I had the freedom to try the latest technologies even being not related to the work I did.

What I learnt from the process: The process helped me get used to some latest technologies and try my hand at some of them as well.

Why I would recommend this experience: It is a great opportunity if you are someone looking to work with the latest technologies and devices in the market and love having an amazing work place with warm and friendly superiors. 

Industry sponsors

We have established collaborations with industry sponsors who offer support for some of our initiatives and events. Our industry sponsors include: 

Industrial placements 

The student engagement activities that we organise usually provide a platform to connect our brightest students with our industrial sponsors to provide opportunities for student employability. For example, winners of our student competitions usually have the opportunity to take the paid internships to go and work with our industry sponsors.

Over the years we have secured a growing number of placements. We also have an annual ITIC Student Internship Programme where students can apply to come and work with us to develop their own ideas or to develop some of our projects.

ITIC Placement

Year

Name

Project

Sponsor

 2018

 Benjamin Inemugha (Electronic Engineering)

Internship

ITIC

 2018

 Sebastian Stanici (Computer Science)

Internship

ITIC

2017

Mason Cusack, Artur Komoter, Simeon Kostadinov

Internship

Whitbread

2017

Jack Hughes (Computer Science) 

Internship 

Virgin

2016

Federico Stillitano (Liberal Arts)  

Fillipo Galli (Computer Science)

Conor Hagan (POLSIS)

Louis Holliday (Geography & Earth  Sciences)  

Elizabeth Rowland (Arts and Law)

Nadihne Audifferen (Arts and Law) 

Deutsche Bank Induction Workshop

Deutsche

2016

Adam Brenner (Computer Science) 

Big Data Analysis

ITIC

2016

Simeon Kostadinov (Computer    Science)

Chatbots 

ITIC

2016

Mohammad Ani (Computer Science)

Using Gesture Control technology in  Virtual  Reality

ITIC

2015

Paree Bhanu (Business)

Anam Khokhar (Law)

Student Placement

Deutsche  Bank

2015

Adedayo Omosanya (Computer  Science)

Lapworth Museum App

ITIC

2015

Bruno Kancelskis Mouta ((Computer  Science)

Myo Bracelet Evaluation

ITIC

2014

Hayden Mills (Computer Science) 

Student Placement

IBM

2014

Ashley Robertson (Computer Science)

Student Placement 

IBM

2014

Joshua Wood (Maths)

Student Placement 

Deutsche  Bank

2014

Lakshmi Gopalarakrishnan (Computer  Science)

Brain Computer Interface  Evaluation

ITIC

2014

Rameez M. Shafshad (Computer Science)

Splunk Evaluation

ITIC