Top-quality projects show business benefits of student work placements

The value to businesses of student work placements in IT and engineering roles will be highlighted at the annual Year in Industry Contribution to Business Awards at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London tomorrow (6 September).

The value to businesses of student work placements in IT and engineering roles will be highlighted at the annual Year in Industry Contribution to Business Awards at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London tomorrow (6 September).

The Year in Industry scheme places students who are on a gap or sandwich year with companies around the UK. Each year students on the scheme are encouraged to enter the Contribution to Business Awards.

Entrants fight their way through to regional finals and the winner in each of the 11 regions goes on to the national final.

Derek Newman, chair of the BCS Education and Training Expert Panel, said he was happy to encourage BCS involvement in the scheme following feedback from the judges about the high quality of IT used in projects. The BCS will provide IT prizes for the winners.

Jonathan Austin, who has been working for Sharp Laboratories in Oxford, won the South of England regional award. His project submission was based on his work to automate measurement processes in laboratory situations.

Austin wrote software and determined the interfaces to process messages generated from devices using standard Windows-based protocols. His solution has proved so successful that it has been taken up by another department in Sharp's parent company in Japan.

Mazeta Coelho, who was placed with HTA Architects, won the London regional award for work centred on the configuration and commissioning of an audit tool upgrade.

She was tasked by the IT director with identifying and recovering printing costs incurred across the architects practice.

The winner in the West Midlands, Alistair Thompson, was involved in a project with Qinetiq Rail to install the Connected Carriage Wi-Fi broadband internet service on Virgin West Coast Pendolino trains.

Thompson had to produce and maintain the technical construction file for external validation and also developed a stock control system to ensure the necessary parts were available to meet a demanding timescale.

Michael Illsley, working for BAE Systems, won the South West of England award for his achievements in updating and improving the navigation department's aircraft simulator software, which is used to demonstrate BAE Systems' avionics products to customers.

More details about the Year in Industry scheme: www.yini.org.uk

Information on BCS membership: www.bcs.org/membership

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