The university has approved the idea of a software shop run by students with me as manager for the projects they do. I thought this would be a struggle to start up, but they just said ‘Yes, it’s a good idea. Let’s do it.’ I didn’t have to use any of the arguments I had mentally lined up to show why it would be useful. (You can see more of the gestation of the idea under the ‘factory‘ and ‘working world‘ categories)
This year everything will be run under the umbrella of the university so I’ve avoided the ‘you have to do it as a spin-off’ issue, which takes time and effort, at least for now. This will let us prove whether there is enough business out there to do this, and that there are enough students interested in working part time as developers/consultants to run such a business. I’ve been assuming that there will be enough business and that there will be a pool of students who I could draw upon to work in such a business.
The basic idea is that we’ll have two students per project doing ten hours a week each working in two-week iterations, or 40 hour iterations if you will. The time scale of two-weeks should be ok as it gives us time to close the feedback loop with the client between when we start/stop the iteration. If we did it longer, then it will drag, so two weeks should be about right. All contracts are therefore on a rolling two-week basis so the effort is on evolutionary development of the product and the client can stop when they feel they’ve received what they want.
I just need to line up about twelve clients and we should have the year covered for one pair of students. If we can find twelve more, then we could hire another two students. If you’re interested in this, then please get in touch.
In the meantime I’m writing terms and conditions, job descriptions for the students and tying up loose ends about how this will be run on a day-to-day basis from my end. It is slowly coming together and should all work ok as we evolve the process and find a way to make it work. It’s a project that I think all universities should be doing, and know that it will help the students in the long run as they make the transition from students to employees later, as well as let them see how their studies fit into what they will be doing later.