One of my private clients came to be a client following referral by a mutual friend. She owns and runs an established local company, but felt her website looked a little dated. She approached me to see if I could come up with a more modern look for the site as well as providing dynamic content that could be altered by her staff whenever required.
The original website was functional but relied on static pages, therefore updates to news items proved a lengthy affair. Furthermore, after meeting with the staff, I felt that the business had a strong community feel with staff that were invested in their work and their clients. The existing website, I felt, failed to evoke the ethos of the company it represented.
The design of the new site was paramount, therefore I called on Greg Scott, a friend of mine who is studying digital interactive design at Dundee University. He accompanied me to meet the staff, and after a few weeks of iteration, developed the design you can see in the image. The old, static layout was transformed into a unique, colourful and attractive layout. The front page became clear, concise and welcoming, and certainly captures the warm character and mood of the company perfectly.
The new design provides the administrative staff with a customised, bespoke content management system that was designed with the assistance of the administrative staff. with the new system, staff can update the front pages news ticker and gallery. Staff can also create accounts for other members of staff as well as parents who have children at the nursery. The system allows staff and parents secure access to internal documents and news as well as delivering training materials to the numerous support staff to provide a streamlined method of managing document handling. The system can determine who has logged into the system, and presents the appropriate customised interface depending on whether the user is administration, support staff or a parent.
Work continues on the website, and I am also tasked with project managing an in-house database for the staff to carry out much of their daily administration workload. This will allow the staff to concentrate their energy on the aspect of their job they love the most, the children in their care.
To see the website in full, please visit the site at www.teddybearclubnursery.co.uk.
The MIDAS project arose from an academic module in 2nd year, when a representative of Signpost International approached the University of Dundee with a unique problem. The entire year split into teams to devise a solution to the problem, and the team I worked with developed a wonderful prototype, and that (or so we thought) was the end of it.
Fast forward a year, and the Dean of the School of Computing advised my team that the client had been in touch again regarding the possibility of developing the project to it's full potential. Myself and another team member agreed to go back to work on the project, and since then has grown from strength to strength.
Currently, the project is at the point of commercialisation, and so the details of the project are somewhat under wraps and subject to change for the time being. We are currently undertaking market research and investigating avenues to allow us to develop a minimal viable market product whilst still earning income. However, all being well, I will be able to provide more detailed coverage of the project in the near future.
Both myself and my colleague feel very proud to be working on such an important project. To understand why, you only have to look at the valuable work carried out by Signpost International:
The International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM 2012) takes place every year, and for the last couple of years the MacroMicrobiology Department based at Dundee University has assembled a team to take part in this prestigious, world-wide competition.
During the summer of 2012, I worked on the iGEM 2012 Dundee team at the College of Life Sciences. My role was to augment the science with software products that could support, advertise, communicate and emulate the work we were carrying out as part of the competition.
The team comprised of microbiology students, chemistry students, mathematics students and myself. We all contributed to the project and, during 10 weeks, I learnt much about synthetic biology, genetics and even mathematics. I also found the time to create four software solutions for the team (see the software section for downloads).
The project culminated in the regional competition final, held at the VU University Amsterdam. Over the weekend, all the European teams met, discussed science and had a wonderful time. The Dundee team were very pleased, as we walked away with a gold medal. You should be able to spot the Dundee team in the picture above (yellow t-shirts).
We created a Wiki, a blog and much more. If you want to find out about our project in more detail, start by heading to the Wiki page which links to all the online resources relating to the iGEM experience.http://2012.igem.org/Team:Dundee
During 3rd and 4th year of University, I have been employed part-time by the University as a tutor. This has been my first experience of providing teaching assistance, and I must admit I have found it incredibly rewarding.
I find the process of tutoring quite a challenge. Every student has their own set of skills and understanding. When they encounter problems, often the largest challenge is to find a way to connect with the student in a language they can relate to. Some students I have come to know well, and assisting such students is very easy. However, often I find myself lending a hand to a student I have never spoken to before. It is at these times that I find just listening to the student soon points you in the right direction as to how you approach the problem.
Not only is it rewarding but also educational in so many ways. I have the luxury of covering some lecture materials two or three times. Furthermore, after dealing with so many different issues and problems in other people's coding I have found I have become a better coder myself as a result.
Luckily for me, I have been asked to tutor again next year, so many more challenges lie ahead for me. It will be my final semester at Dundee University and I must say, I shall miss the School of Computing very much. The students are fun and inspiring, and the staff are warm and welcoming. It's very much a home from home.
Here you can find links to various online press bulletins and resources on some of the events, projects and coursework I've been involved with:
iGEM 2012 - Press Release - Life Sciences
iGEM 2012 - Press Release - School of Computing
Frackin' Toasters - Press Release - School of Computing
Technology Innovation Management Winners - School of Computing
The Teddy Bear Club Nursery - Website developed by Chris Walker, designed by Greg Scott.