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Teaming up with Sodarace

A sodarace

The stereotype of a computer expert usually depicted in films is someone who spends all their time alone at a keyboard. If Computer Scientists were ever like that, they certainly aren't now. Most professions that computer science leads to involve highly team-based, communication-rich jobs. Modern software is so large, and its development needs such a variety of skills that no single person could ever do it completely alone. You also have to talk to clients to get the work and write professional well-argued reports to then keep them happy.

Computer Scientists need lots of other professional skills too: creativity, persuasive argument skills, the ability to reflect and learn quickly from experience, and basic research skills. The latter means more than just background reading to find out what others have already discovered but to discover things for yourself in a way that is supported by evidence. You have to become a bit of an investigator in fact - and that can be quite fun to learn.

As part of the Professional Skills program at Queen Mary, University of London, for example, the first years take part in a competition. It's a team competition so they have to work well together doing experiments and analysing and synthesising their results. Above all it involves running an investigation.

This year it was about Artificial Intelligence as used in Sodarace. The teams had to investigate the way AI techniques work in the new Soda Kiosk, then write up their results as a cohesive web report - one that the whole team contribute to. It was important that it didn't look like it was just a bunch of separate people's writing thrown together at the end. No client would be happy with such a shoddy approach as that!

This years winners winning team was: Chris Molozian, James Snee, Marc Trepanier & Andrei Mihu. Read their winning web report here.