Group design projects
The Cambridge undergraduate programme in computer science includes a strong design theme influenced by Crucible research. Students in their second year undertake an intensive design project working for an external client. A selection of these projects with explicit connection to interdisciplinary research concerns includes:
Most knowledge-workers (and professional scholars are no exception) have a serious struggle to differentiate routine correspondence from management of the new ideas that make the job interesting. Design an automated personal assistant that filters email, infers rules on the likely response to routine items, and looks for thematic patterns in the rest. This can be used to track research ideas, or even set up new clusters of collaboration. All rules should be customisable by the user, and confirm proposed actions before sending a message that might be harmful. After a little ‘bedding-in’, the customised result might be indistinguishable from a real professor.
Design a programming language suitable for use by children, with a sufficiently compact user interface that the development environment can be run on a mobile phone. Children should be motivated to use this language to develop applications that are useful and of interest to them - it shouldn’t be like school! The Android platform will be used.
Systems like readyourmeter.org (from Cambridge) were developed to help remote monitoring of your house from the web. The next step is remote control of your house. Create a web-based programming environment, that will allow homeowners to do DIY software plumbing (scripting and configuration) of home media, energy and control systems.