Computing students reach final of start-up competition

Three students from the School of Computing have gone through to the final of the Business Start-up Journey (BSUJ) and will pitch their ideas at the Business Start-Up Journey showcase on Wednesday 20 March 2019.

The BSUJ is an inspirational programme which brings student business start-up ideas to life. Students attend talks and workshops on all aspects of business including financial, legal and marketing, as well as mentoring sessions, to help take their business ideas further.

Tomiwa Sosanya, a second year BSc Computer Science with a year in Industry student, customizes trainers on his website ‘Do You Customs’ and hopes to build a platform bringing together artists/makers who customize products.

Aishat Alonge, a final year BSc Computer Science student, is pitching with a Kent Business School student on an idea to build a platform connecting beauty businesses to new customers.

Fern Hennell, a final year BSc Business Information Technology student will pitch her candles based on famous books business.

Tomiwa said ‘The BSUJ has helped me change my hobby into an actual business. Instead of thinking about when the next customer is coming, I am thinking about how to attract more customers and how to provide a better service.’

We wish all the students good luck for the final pitch at the Business Start-up Journey showcase.

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Students celebrate at Computing Showcase

Final year students from the School of Computing celebrated their final year projects at the School of Computing Showcase on Friday 15 March with several prizes sponsored by local companies and partners.

The Innovation prize, sponsored by Kent Innovation and Enterprise and awarded to support early stage entrepreneurship, was won by Maaz Mehmood, Praag Dogra, Jack Madden, Stelianos Martis and Dylan Osei-Bonsu for their project ‘Leap Motion’, which interprets sign language for those hard of hearing or unable to communicate and who do not understand sign language.

The Best User Experience prize, sponsored by Holiday Extras and awarded to the student who demonstrated an understanding of their end user through an excellent user experience, was awarded to Elina Voitane, Karlis Jaunslavietis, Priyesh Patel and Afzaal Ahmad Razeen for ‘Echobook’, an Echo Parakeet tracking system to help The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation to manage and monitor the Echo Parakeet population.

The Most Innovative use of Modern Technology prize, sponsored by Holiday Extras and awarded to the student who implemented modern web/programming languages and frameworks to create their product, was awarded to Christian Dalby for his project ‘Weighter’. Weighter is an Android App focusing on exploring the potential benefits artificial intelligence can have on an individual’s fitness by providing users with a convenient and familiar approach to personal training, without the possible intimidation of a human trainer.

The prize for the Most Original/Unique project, sponsored by SardJV, was awarded to Aaron Argent, Tom Kawalczyk, Jack Smith, Jamie Swanborough and Molly Walmsley for the Turing Machine Simulator. The aim of this project was to develop and improve an already existing Turing Machine Simulator web application by redesigning and utilising extra space for the simulator, creating a friendlier user interface and adding error messages to create a more accessible and friendly learning environment.

The Best Poster prize, sponsored by the School of Computing and voted for by the visitors to the Computing Showcase, was awarded to Joanna Zhang and Damon Sweeney for Coop Control. Coop Control is a platform that accommodates a modular network of devices and sensors that monitor and automate tasks for chicken keepers, from door control to informing the user when the water level in the drinker has fallen below a given threshold.

Congratulations to the prize-winners and to all the final year students for their amazing range of projects.

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Join Us – 2 new Lectureships

The School of Computing is seeking to appoint 2 new Lecturers (Assistant Professors) in Cyber Security to support the growth plan of the Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS).

Applications are invited from candidates in any research area that can complement or enhance the existing research strengths of the KirCCS and the Cyber Security research group at the School of Computing, especially in the socio-technical security theme. Successful candidates will be made members of both KirCCS and the Institute of Advanced Studies in Cyber Security and Conflict (SoCyETAL). SoCyETAL will have a dedicated physical space allowing researchers from different schools and disciplines to work together, and there will be dedicated PhD studentships for members of SoCyETAL.

We are particularly interested in candidates who have worked with researchers in social science disciplines including but not limited to Psychology, Law, Sociology, Business, and Economics. Candidates with research experience in Artificial Intelligence are welcome, especially if that research goes beyond pure technical issues into topics such as human behaviour, ethics, law, transparency, trust, fairness, and policy.

For more details about the vacancies and to apply for the posts, please visit the following web page: https://jobs.kent.ac.uk/STM1002.

For informal queries, please contact the KirCCS Centre Director and the SoCyETAL Co-Director Prof Shujun Li and the Head of School of Computing Prof Richard Jones.

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David Chadwick takes part in I’m a Scientist get me out of here

Professor David Chadwick is taking part in I’m a Scientist, get me out of here! from 4-15 March, as part of British Science Week.

I’m a Scientist is an online activity for school students to connect with scientists. It is an X Factor-style competition between scientists, where students are the judges. Students challenge the scientists over fast-paced online text-based live chats. They can ask anything they want, and vote for their favourite scientist to win a prize of £500 to communicate their work with the public.

The event started on 4 March when students started asking questions of the Scientists. Thursday 7 March saw the first live chat, with students encouraged to log in with family and friends and ask questions. Tuesday 12 March is the start of the evictions when the scientists with the least votes will be evicted from the competition. The final live chat is on Friday 15 March and at 3pm the voting closes and the winners of I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here are announced.

David said ‘Some of the initial questions the students asked were very penetrating, and you had to think long and hard before answering. But this was fine as you had plenty of time. However, when the live chat started you had no time to think as the questions were coming thick and fast, in fact, faster than you could touch type your answers. So it was quite a challenge to give the students a meaningful answer that would both engage and enthral them, whilst simultaneously not make you look like an idiot who should be thrown out straight away!”

You can review David’s profile and see the questions and his answers at https://relationshipsm19.imascientist.org.uk/profile/davidchadwick/

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Summer school opportunity for computing students

Students from the School of Computing can apply for free places on immersive summer schools in France. The three-week courses, which are taught in English, each explore a different theme in depth.

The topics available this year are:

  • AI and Robotics
  • Blockchain
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Video Games

The summer schools take place at Epitech, a university-level institution that specialises in computing. They have 12 campuses across France. At the summer school everyone starts with a 1-week intensive course in C and Python programming. The remaining two weeks involve a project in the chosen theme. There are also cultural activities such as sightseeing trips.

There are two free summer school places for Kent students. They are suitable for first and second-year undergraduates in the School of Computing (Canterbury or Medway). Students need to apply by 15 April 2019.

Further details and how to apply available at: https://www.cs.kent.ac.uk/people/staff/pgk/episum.html

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KirCCS researchers win two major awards at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium 2019

Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS) are pleased to announce that two of their  members, Dr Jason Nurse and Dr Orcun Cetin, have won  major awards at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium 2019 (NDSS) which took place in San Diego last February.

NDSS, one of the “Big 4” conferences in the cyber security field,  fosters information exchange among researchers and practitioners of network and distributed system security. The major goal is to encourage and enable the internet community to apply, deploy and advance the state of available security technologies.

Dr Jason Nurse, Core member of the Centre and  lecturer at the School of Computing, and his co-authors won the Distinguished Poster Presentation Award for their work “Cybercrime investigators are users too! Understanding the socio-technical challenges faced by law enforcement”.

His poster can be seen here: www.ndss-symposium.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ndss2019posters_paper_23.pdf

Jason said, “It was a great to see our research on Cybercrime Investigations win this Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS) award. Cybercrime investigators – both in law enforcement and in private industry – face numerous challenges when policing and responding to online crimes. Our work is one of the first trying to identify these broad issues and propose recommendations for addressing them. The socio-technical nature of our research is quite novel, and we have also published the full paper of this research in the Workshop on Usable Security and Privacy (USEC) 2019. We hope our findings can be useful to guide researchers in better supporting law enforcement, and for law enforcement in understanding the breath of challenges faced.”

Dr Orcun Cetin, Research Associate working at the Centre and School of Computing, and his co-authors won the Distinguished Paper Award for their work “Cleaning up the internet of evil things: real-world evidence on ISP and consumer efforts to remove mirai”

Orcun, who attended the conference, said “This is an incredible honour. Very glad to see that interdisciplinary studies are getting recognition in NDSS community. This award shows the importance of Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS)”.

His paper can be seen here: www.ndss-symposium.org/ndss-paper/cleaning-up-the-internet-of-evil-things-real-world-evidence-on-isp-and-consumer-efforts-to-remove-mirai/

Congratulations to them on such great achievements.

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School of Computing ‘Women in Computing’ lunch

On Tuesday 26 February, Jacqui Chetty, Student Success Manager at The School of Computing, hosted a “Women in Computing” lunch bringing 24 of its female students together.

This event encouraged our female students to get-together over lunch, get to know each other a little more and share their experiences about being a women at the University of Kent and School of Computing.

Following the buffet lunch, the students were invited to take part in some activities and express their “likes” and their “wishes” as a female student in the school. The “wish” list outweighed the “like” list generating some interesting food for thought for Jacqui to consider moving forward.

Jacqui said “We held a women’s event and there was a great turnout. Female students were given an opportunity express how they felt about being a minority group within the school of computing. Although female students within the department perform well academically, listening to their “I wish” list I recognised that we could be providing them with more support. We look forward to implementing some of these.”

Professor Ursula Martin, from the University of Oxford, joined in to share her own experience prior to giving her presentation to the whole school about “The Scientific life of Ada Lovelace” and why computer scientists should care about history. Ada, Countess of Lovelace is best known for a remarkable article about Babbage’s unbuilt computer, the Analytical Engine. The comprehensive archive of Lovelace’s papers is preserved in Oxford’s Bodleian Library and displays Lovelace’s wide scientific interests in everything from geology, to acoustics to chemistry.

Professor Martin started the talk by exploring Lovelace, her background, her scientific ideas and her contemporary legacy and reflecting more broadly on the role of history for computing in present day thinking about the discipline.

A great day enjoyed by all!

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New Phd Scholarships available in the School of Computing

The School of Computing is delighted to offer a range of PhD scholarships for entry in September 2019. You can apply for a degree in any topic that falls within our range of expertise in the areas of:

The scholarships provide a bursary of £15,009 plus fees at the home/EU rate at £4,327, for entry in September 2019. Scholarships are normally awarded annually for three years (36 months) for a full-time PhD student, subject to satisfactory progression through each year of study.

We are also offering four specific projects, with more defined research plans as listed below:

Further details of the scholarships are available at: www.cs.kent.ac.uk/research/studyingforaphd/fundingopportunities.html
Details of how to apply at:
www.cs.kent.ac.uk/research/studyingforaphd/howtoapply.html

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Jason Nurse contributes to an article on the Symantec blog

Dr Jason Nurse has contributed to an article on the Symantec blog advising CISO’s to think beyond pure tech when looking for more resources to improve security.

The article entitled ‘Advice for CISOs: Want More Resources? Think Beyond Pure Tech’ is written by journalist John Borland and offers a range of proposals that may help CISOs argue successfully for new resources, while also demonstrating that existing resources are being used effectively.

In the article Jason Nurse advises CISOs to think broadly, assessing the range of potential harms across areas such as corporate reputation, societal impacts, psychological influences, physical harms, as well as financial impacts.

Jason said ‘A lot of attention is placed on the financial impact, but realistically there are other types of impact that result from a cyber attack. Identifying these could help convince a board that security is important even beyond the financial perspective.’

The article concludes that simple scare tactics are unlikely to work, and even research as it stands currently does not provide unambiguous answers regarding exactly what does. However, training, continuous feedback, and sensitivity to employees’ different cultural contexts and responses all appear to be important factors.

Read the full article at: www.symantec.com/blogs/feature-stories/advice-cisos-want-more-resources-think-beyond-pure-tech

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Carlos Perez-Delgado on IBM launch of commercial quantum computing

Carlos Perez-Delgado has written an article for The Conversation entitled ‘IBM launches commercial quantum computing – we’re not ready for what comes next.’

IBM recently unveiled what it claimed was the world’s first commercial quantum computer. While the announcement of the Q System One wasn’t scientifically groundbreaking, the fact that IBM sees this as a commercial product that organisations (if not individuals) will want to use is an important breakthrough.

IBM has taken a prototype technology that has existed in the lab for over 20 years and launched it in the real world. In doing so, it marks an important step towards the next generation of computing technology becoming ubiquitous, something the world isn’t yet ready for. In fact, quantum may well prove to be the most disruptive technology of the information age.

Quantum computers work by exploiting the weird phenomenon described by quantum physics, like the ability of an object to be, in a very real sense, in more than one place at the same time. Doing so enables them to solve problems in seconds that would take the age of the universe to solve on even the most powerful of today’s supercomputers.

Too expensive?
The one criticism typically laid against quantum technologies is that they are “too expensive”, and will continue to be so even as they become more readily available. This is certainly the case today. IBM isn’t making its quantum computer available to buy but rather to access over the internet. But this shows the technology is on its way to becoming affordable in the near future.

Quantum computers are very easily disrupted by changes in the environment and take a long time to reset. So IBM has developed a protective system to keep the Q System One stable enough to perform tasks for commercial customers, which are likely to include large companies, universities and research organisations that want to run complex simulations. As a result, IBM believes it has a commercially viable product, and is putting its money where its mouth is.

History shows us that technologies can experience rapid growth in use and capability once they become viable commercial products. After conventional digital computers became commercially viable, they experienced an exponential explosion referred to commonly as Moore’s Law. Roughly every two years, computers have doubled in power while their size and costs have fallen by half. This “law” is really just a trend that has been made possible, in part, by market forces.

The IBM announcement does not guarantee that quantum computers will now experience Moore’s Law-style exponential growth of their own. It does, however, make that explosion likelier and sooner.

 

Skills crisis
Quantum technologies are disruptive, and more so in cybersecurity than any other field. Once large-scale quantum computers become available (which at the current rate could take another ten to 15 years), they could be used to access pretty much every secret on the internet. Online banking, private emails, passwords and secure chats would all be opened up. You would be able to impersonate any person or web page online.

This is because the information locks we use to secure privacy and authentication online are like butter to a quantum computer’s hot knife. Quantum technology is disruptive in many other areas as well. If your business decides not to “go quantum” and your competitor or adversary does, you may well be at a strong disadvantage.
As the technology landscape realigns itself, it is quite likely that many tech professionals will see their skills turn obsolete very quickly. Simultaneously, companies may find themselves frantic to hire expertise that does not readily exist.

When geopolitical and market forces realign, it’s common for people in business to say everyone now has to learn a new language. For example, as China has grown in power and influence, it is not uncommon in business communities to hear the phrase “we’ll all have to learn Mandarin now”. Perhaps it’s time for all of us to start learning to speak quantum.

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