Tuesday 10th July
Welcome and Introduction
Following registration and refreshments, the third Headstart course at Lancaster University was officially opened by Dr Andrew Stone (Researcher in the Computing Department and Headstart Facilitator), Dr Adrian Friday (Senior Lecturer in Computing Department), and Professor Gordon Blair (Head of Computing Department), with a warm welcome to all.
Adrian and Gordon provided an exciting overview of modern day computer science and its now prevalent, but often unseen existence in the form of mobile and ubiquitous computing (a strong research theme of the Computing Department at Lancaster).
Gordon reminded students that the Headstart course at Lancaster is more than just a course in ubiquitous and mobile computing, it is also an introduction into university culture. He also declared that he was very impressed with the work produced in last year's course is very much looking forward to judging this year's projects on Friday.
Studying computing based courses at University
Dr Adrian Friday spoke to inform Headstart attendees about studying computer based courses at university. Ade gave an overview of the computer science discipline, its historical groundings, present day achievements and cutting edge technologies and research.
During the talk, Ade examined the Photosynth technology from Microsoft Live Labs, an innovative technology which constructs a three-dimensional view of the world from collections of flat, two-dimensional photograps.
Overview of Robotics Project and Hands-on Prototyping using an Embedded Computer
Dr Mike Hazas (Academic Fellow and Lecturer, Computing Department) spoke on prototyping ubiquitous systems including an overview of contemporary applications and state-of-the-art technologies. As part of the talk, Mike introduced the Lego Mindstorms embedded programming platform, and gave an interactive tutorial on interfacing with it.
At the heart of the Lego Mindstorms platform is the RCX (Robotic Command eXplorer) 'brick'. The brick's internal CPU is a Hitachi H8/300 8-bit microcontroller and it contains three sensor ports, three actuator ports and an LCD display. The brick is programmed via an infra-red (IR) port and is also able to communicate wirelessly with other bricks via IR, enabling inter-brick cooperation or competition.
Students are given the opportunity to rapidly develop some core ubiquitous type applications exploiting sensors and actuators connected to the Lego Mindstorms' RCX programmable 'brick'.
Sports Evening at Lancaster University Sports Centre
Students got energetic at Lancaster University's Sports Centre. Activities including swimming, football, basketball, badminton, squash, and aeroball were on offer.