Computing student wins J.P. Morgan’s Code for Good

Students at JP Morgans Code for Good
Melat, in the centre, with team mates from other London universities

BSc Computer Science student, Melat Gebreselassie, is on the winning team for J.P. Morgan’s annual hackathon, Code for Good.

JP Morgan’s annual Code for Good programme gives participants the chance to use their coding skills to build creative solutions for problems faced by not-for-profit organisations.

Melat’s team worked with Project Access, who run an international mentorship programme to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds navigate applying for university. The team had to address the issue that the huge amount of data available online about university applications can be overwhelming.

“The challenge was to find a solution for students age 16-18 all around the world who have very little knowledge in how they should apply, where they should apply etc. in one place online in an accessible simple way” Melat said.

Melat and her team decided the best approach was to create a chatbot implanted into Facebook messenger, which would be accessible to young people who are used to texting and messaging through social media. They used Google’s machine learning brain, DialogFlow, to power the chatbot. This means that the more chatbot is used the better the algorithm becomes.

Melat’s BSc Computer Science degree was important as she used knowledge of node.js to build the chatbot, a coding language she is currently learning in her Data and the Web module taught by Dr. Elaheh Homayounvala.

Her team completed the challenge in just 16 hours, and after presenting to an audience of 400 people and 5 judges, were announced the winners of the competition.

Congratulations to Melat and the team!

Games Library Night

To celebrate International Games Week, Goldsmiths Computing and Goldsmiths Library present a night with special guest speakers from across the games industry.

The event is free and open to the public, all are welcome. Participants will have an opportunity to play exciting new games created by Goldsmiths alumni and current students.

  • When: Friday 8 November 2019, 5pm – 9pm. Talks start at 6pm
  • Where: Goldsmiths Library
  • FREE. Register on Eventbrite

Speakers

Jupiter Hadley: Game Jams and Games You’ve Never Heard of….

Jupiter Hadley

This talk will explore Game Jams and highlight a collection of amazing game jam games that you have probably never heard of before.

Jupiter Hadley is a games journalist and YouTuber, primarily of indie games. Jupiter is also the Games Wizard at Armor Games.

Allan Cudicio: Make Pre-Colonial Africa Great Again – in Your Game

Allan Cudicio

This talk will tell you why you should start thinking about including precolonial Africa in your game (or other media) and will provide actionable first steps on how to research and implement it.

Allan Cudicio is Founder & Creative Director at Twin Drums, a new independent games studio focused on bringing together the fantasy genre and African folklore. Berlin based, Allan has worked for, among others, Candy Crush’s maker King and story driven mobile game developer Wooga.

Anisa Sanusi: Mentorship for the Underrepresented

Anisa Sanusi

Anisa discusses the story behind Limit Break Mentorship, a program created specifically to connect senior women in games to new or mid-level developers who are considered to be underrepresented in the industry.

She delves into how help can be sought after at any level of ones career, and the importance of giving back to a community – whoever you are.

Anisa Sanusi is a video games UI/UX Designer and Founder of Limit Break, a mentorship program for developers of underrepresented genders in the games industry. Throughout the years Anisa has cultivated a devotion to ethical UX design, speaking at the first UX Summit held at GDC in San Francisco and also served as a Juror for the BAFTA Games Awards for multiple years.

Anisa is an advocate for diversity and inclusivity in the industry, and this year she was listed as one of the Top 100 Influential Women in the UK Games Industry.

Staff profile: Dr Elaheh HomayounVala

In this post, we meet Dr Elaheh HomayounVala, a lecturer in Computer Science at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research looks at how people interact with technology and how to adapt technology to needs and preferences of people.

Growing up in Iran, Elaheh’s passion for tech began in high school, when she would travel by bus to one of the first computing companies in the city to study IT. She later became one of the first women in the country to graduate with a master’s in Philosophy of Science.

“The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been finding the right career path for me. When I was at school most of our teachers advised us to study medicine or electrical engineering, but I knew that I wanted a career that would allow me the flexibility to be a wife and a mother as well, and computing offered that.

“While I enjoyed my undergraduate degree in Computer Science, I had other interests I wanted to explore – like psychology and the humanities – which was why I chose Philosophy of Science as my master’s subject. It was a really new programme and I was one of only two women in a class of 10 students”

When she moved to London, she undertook her PhD at King’s College. Elaheh combined her tech skills with her interests in people and psychology to begin researching user modelling and personalisation – looking at how people interact with computers and how technology can be adapted to suit both individuals and groups.

“I like the unpredictability of humans as users of computers, and I’m very interested in how we can personalise technology to suit such diverse users. It was a relatively new field when I began, so I’m proud that I recognised early on that this was going to be an increasingly popular area – 15 years on many big companies are really investing in personalisation.”

As part of the Goldsmiths Computing team, Elaheh firmly believes that students should have the opportunity to use their computing skills in the areas that interests them.

“One of the biggest misconceptions about Computer Science is that it’s only suitable for people who love maths and are very techy and therefore that it can’t have anything to do with fields like art or psychology. That is completely untrue. Areas like Human Computer Interaction rely on a multidisciplinary team, with computer scientists working alongside graphic designers and psychologists.

“One of the best things about the Computing department at Goldsmiths is that people working here come from all kinds of different backgrounds. We have students who are interested in management and entrepreneurship or artificial intelligence and medicine and they combine those passions with technical skills. What we’re showing our students is that just because you’re interested in more than one field of study, you don’t need to choose between them. You can use computing skills to support you in any area you care about.”

As technology increasingly intersects with every element of our lives, Elaheh believes it is becoming even more important to redress the balance between men and women in the tech sector.

“Technology is changing the world we live in and more than that, it is changing the world our children will live in. We need both men and women to help shape that world. We add our own perspectives – as sisters, mothers, wives. That’s not to say we have a better perspective, but we all benefit from considering lots of different views, particularly regarding ethical issues surrounding areas of computing like artificial intelligence, which will have such a big impact on future generations.”

As her own daughter prepares to start her undergraduate degree in Computer Science at King’s College London (where she herself began her PhD 18 years ago), Elaheh has some pertinent advice for young women everywhere who are wondering if tech is for them.

“Start by thinking about yourself. Know what your interests are and what you enjoy doing. Have a look at the range of jobs available now but also at where future trends are likely to go – you will enter the job market in a few years’ time and computing is always changing so can you imagine yourself working in any of these future trends?

“But most importantly, remember it’s okay not to be sure. You can start your journey and adapt it along the way. The flexibility offered in Computer Science will allow you to make your own unique career path.”

This article was adapted from an interview published in the University of London’s online magazine, London Connection.

Dr Helen Pritchard interviewed on RWM

Dr Helen Pritchard, head of BSc Digital Arts Computing and lecturer in computational and digital arts, was recently interviewed for Radio Web Mocba, an online radio project for popular education.

Listen here

In the podcast, Helen speaks about her work as an artist and researcher operating in the grey area in which computing intersects geography, design and cyberfeminist technoscience.

She discusses some of her works and collective projects, and talks about orcas and sensors, fossils and fracking, alpaca and recipes, sheep and data infrastructures. Through her artworks, writing, talks and workshops, Pritchard seeks to articulate a different social political gaze on code and computation, based on the notions of co-research, radical pedagogy and participation as key strategies to “move away from the idea of the expert or the genius” and to bring forward questions about collective learning and knowledge production.

Helen is a member of the European Research Council funded project Citizen Sense, which develops physical computing and sensing technologies to think through and develop new theories of citizen sensing.

Listen to the podcast


Experiments in Play

Join us for a showcase of inventive and experimental playful experiences developed by students on the MA Independent Games & Playable Experience Design.

Website: EXPERIMENTS IN PLAY
Course: MA Indie Games + Playable Experience Design

The exhibition promises to push the boundaries of what games can offer as a medium, and experiments with the vast capabilities of play. Expect an array of inventive and experimental playful experiences that sit at the intersection of games, interactive design, and creative technology.P

  • Opening gala: 6pm-10pm, Thu 19 September 2019
  • Exhibition continues: 10am-8pm, Fri 20 and Sat 21 September 2019

Work on show includes physical performances and workshops, interactive literature, VR & AR experiences, alternative controllers, and playable works of art, as well as more traditional video game and board game experiences.

The show explores the possibilities of embodied and immersive storytelling and alternative narrative structures, considers how games are evolving to critically impact on issues of gender, mental health, sexuality and intimacy, and reimagines a world of gaming that champions inclusion and accessibility.

As part of the Experiments in Play showcase we are holding an Opening Night Gala, which will feature a series of talks and panel discussions. Speakers will be announced soon.

Website: EXPERIMENTS IN PLAY
Course: MA Indie Games + Playable Experience Design

MA/MFA Computational Arts Degree Show 2019

We warmly invite you to Goldsmiths’ 2019 MA/MFA Computational Arts degree show exhibition, So how is that working for you?

It’s our biggest exhibition to date with more than 60+ computational artists. There will be interactive installations, performances, workshops, panel discussions, drinks and nibbles.

Private view + party: 5-10pm Thursday 5 September 2019
Where: St. James Hatcham (‘The Church’), Goldsmiths. Google map
Exhibition continues: Friday 6 September (11am-8pm), Saturday 7 September (11am-8pm) and Sunday 8 September (11am-5pm).

ARTISTS’ STATEMENT

Working through the ever evolving tensions around technology and art, we feel the responsibility to explore and reflect on some critical questions surrounding the past, present and future of technologies that permeate our everyday lives.

How do we situate and consolidate our artistic agency within a world where technologies are seemingly integrated into the very fabric of society on the one hand and weaponised and used against us on the other?

What is the role of computational art in the Anthropocene’s era where technology is simultaneously part of the problem and part of the solution?

So how is that working for you? is a speculative response to these questions and tensions. Comprising current work from our practice, the show traces a route through seven conceptual threads: intelligence, phenomenon, narration, network, matter, embodiment, surveillance.

List of performances and events

Instagram feed

Student invents fabric circuit boards as tech teaching aids

Elisabetta Motta

A third year student from Goldsmiths Computing has developed a unique felt circuit board to enable primary school children to learn about electronics.

The project, ‘Felt-e’, was created by BSc Creative Computing student Elisabetta Motta as a potential new resource for teaching physical computing to children.

She said: “My research into primary schools found that teachers in computing lessons often lack the resources and time to enthuse young boys and girls about the subject. Felt-e provides a unique, hands on experience for kids and allows them to be creative while learning about electronics. It’s also a resource that’s easy to understand for teachers who might be unfamiliar with computing.”

Elisabetta, 28, surveyed a number of teachers during her initial research, exploring the frustrations of many Key Stage 1 and 2 teachers around lack of computing knowledge and pressures to prioritise literacy and mathematics.

Common feedback included a difficulty keeping pupils focused and lack of resources to run hands-on activities, which inspired the design of the Felt-e board.

Similarly laid out to a breadboard – a commonly used electronic tool which allows the user to lay out components – Felt-e includes two bus strips and ten terminal strips. Each strip has metallic poppers, to which the user can connect ‘wires’ and other components.

The longer wires have one popper on one end to connect to the board, and a crocodile clip on the other end to connect to the micro controller. The shorter wires have poppers on each end so connect points on the board.

Components are made from white felt with drawings of the relevant electronic symbol on one side and positive and negative signs on each end (if relevant to the component). The circuit is also compatible with micro controllers including the BBC micro:bit.



This post was adapted from an article by Chris Smith published on Goldsmiths News.