Software house starts

The student software factory is up and running. It’s on a volunteer basis with about four or five students meeting twice a week for about two hours each session. Some of them do a bit on the projects outside of this time, but not a great deal as they still have other committments for coursework, and paying jobs to supplement their income. Nonetheless, they are enthusiatic and are providing teams to help work out what’s required to scale this up and remove any impediments when we hopefully offer it as an optional module next year.

The biggest holdup so far is getting software tools in place for students and ensuring that all team members can push/pull code changes from the git repositories that we’re using. When I get some time I must set up basic downloads from local sources for students to use instead of downloading from the original sources. Similarly, they need to have clear instructions for setting up system paths, etc for Windows, Linux and Mac OSs, which students seem to be using.

My aim for getting the project management aspects going, user stories, metrics, etc is to introduce them as we go along, and as they’re needed. I want to keep the students enthused in their work, and to let them take the lead to code up the examples as they go along and put order into their work as needed to keep it going in the right direction.

Pursuing the bigger picture of a running software house, was the tangential idea of having any appropriate students helping out in the summer months. We’ll see if that can be sorted out. While we couldn’t offer the students paying work, we could offer them experience working with real clients on real p projects. This would easily run alongside the current group projects for the conversion MSc students that run in the summer, and the individual advanced MSc projects.

Similarly it would be useful to help mentor students who are running their own one-person software houses, of which there seem to be a growing number, to help them grow and improve their processes. I’m assuming that most of them slide into this by accident, and only pick up new ideas as they cover that part of the process in their coursework, or after they did a placement with a firm. Hence, they could use some mentoring to help them on their continuious improvement. It would also be useful for them to meet their fellow entrepreneurs once a fortnight or so and to discuss common problems, issues, etc. Must get it organised for next term.

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