PhD outing

I arrived home from the Firbush outdoor centre near Killin in Stirlingshire this afternoon, following a short trip away. It’s an outdoor centre owned (and built) by Edinburgh University, in a very picturesque wee setting up north (see picture below, taken by yours truly).

IMG_20150506_095844127_HDR (2)

The trip was organised by the School of Computing here at Napier to allow us to participate in some team-building outdoor activities. Additionally, we had an open forum regarding life as a researcher in the SoC, and each gave a 20 minute presentation of our individual projects.

I have to say, I was a tad apprehensive about being away from my desk for the best part of three days, given the amount of work I have coming up in the next couple of months. But as is invariably the case with these things, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip when I got there and feel as though I have benefitted immensely from the experience.

So, by way of a quick run-down….

On Monday I scaled a small mountain, which name escapes me at the moment (maybe one of my colleagues can help me out? It’s a Gaelic tongue twister). 10-12 of us were in the hiking group, and the weather was very kind indeed – the views at the top were pretty spectacular. I’ll post some more pictures up of the gang at the summit, as and when I get a hold of them from the others.

On Monday evening I gave my presentation – ‘Networking and career management skills: the role of social networking and social media in job search and career development’. It went well – I enjoy the platform and get a bit of an adrenaline rush when I am up there talking. It’s also a liberating experience being able to air your work in a room full of people and get feedback. You spend so much time debating your work in your mind that it is important to hear it out loud and gain an outsider’s perspective. I feel refreshed by the experience, and certainly have some new ideas.

Yesterday a group of us went cycling into town to see some castle ruins – those of Clan Macnab I believe. One of the guides at Firbush showed us the ‘beheading pit’, which is basically a hole in the ground next to the dilapidated building where people were kept overnight before their morning execution. He also regaled us with a tale of an extremely violent pitched battle between rival clans in the area – something to do with cattle-rustling neighbours (the area is firmly within Rob Roy country). A reminder of Scotland’s rather colourful past!

Last night we had a marathon of 10 student presentations, followed by a couple of beers in the common room and a battle of wits over Trivial Pursuit. My team didn’t win…(I mean, can Bill Clinton’s favourite meat really be considered general knowledge?? Answers on a postcard folks).

Anyway, below is a list of all the students present at Firbush, and their presentation titles. I have included a link to their university profiles where possible to allow you to find out more about their work. You will see that the SoC has a very rich, and broad base of research currently being undertaken by its PhD students. In most cases it was my first opportunity to become acquainted with their respective topics, and even though some of the concepts were beyond the scope of my knowledge, I learned a great deal from the way in which the others presented their slides and addressed the audience. Overall, a very worthwhile exercise.

“The role of online information in reputation management” by Frances Ryan.

“Bio-Inspired autonomous generation of mechanical multi-body systems” by Paul Lapok.

“Context-aware Pervasive Computing” by Gopal Jamnal.

“The value and impact of public libraries on citizenship development in the Information Society” by Leo Appleton.

“How can sound visualisation methods improve communication for the sensory impaired?” by John McGowan.

“Urban Interaction Design” by Shenando Stals.

“Weighted Clustering Algorithms for wireless sensor networks” by Alsnousi Essa.

“File Fragment Classification and Identification – Big Data and the Nightmare for Digital Forensics’ by Philip Penrose.

“On Efficient Routing in Internet of Things (IoT)” by Baraq Ghaleb.

“Distributed and Robust Sharing within Secure Cloud-based Architectures” by Elochukwu Ukwandu.

“Context-Aware service discovery Protocols for internet of things” by Mamoun Qasem.

On Load-balancing Cluster Based Protocols for Wireless Sensor Networks” by Mohamed Eshaftri.

“The challenge of visualising large and highly complex biological data sets” by Thanasis Vogogias.


One thought on “PhD outing

  1. What a great report John, thanks for this. I’ve really enjoyed reading it, as I unfortunately haven’t managed to be there with you all. Sounds like you had a good time, and that it was a profitable experience, I’m really happy for you 🙂
    I’ll defenitely (and hopefully) come next year.


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