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:
In wealthy countries, hospital intensive care units often use sophisticated data monitoring and capture systems like IMDsoft MetaVision to enforce procedures and collect information about various drugs and patient vital signs. The World Health Organisation needs to establish more rigorous care and data collection for the kinds of emergency field hospital that deal with outbreaks of new viral infections like Ebola. But such a system would need to be customised for each site, by local staff, to deal with the huge variation in local training and resources. Your task is to design a field- customisable critical care system that could report research data to the WHO, while continuing to operate with the range of network connections, power supply and hardware availability typical in remote regions.
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.
Computational predictive models that can generate results in fractions of seconds are used in the design of new medicines (e.g. http://www.optibrium.com/stardrop/stardrop-glowing-molecule.php). In addition, many databases exist containing further data about previously synthesised molecules. However, this information can only be predicted or recalled for molecules for which the chemical structures are stored on a computer in some form. Chemists regularly have ‘visual access’ to molecule structures (papers, meeting presentations, notebooks) with no option but to make a copy and then ‘draw’ the molecule into their computer at a later time if they wish to find out more information. Your challenge is to design and prototype a method by which a chemist with visual access to a molecule structure can find out information about a molecule within seconds of seeing it, giving real-time feedback to spot potential new medicines.
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.