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UCLan students highly commended in BBC technology challenge

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Computing students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) secured a top three finish in a technology competition hosted by the BBC.

UCLan finished third behind Manchester Metropolitan University and eventual winners Liverpool John Moores in the 2014 Barclays and BBC Technology Challenge. The event tasked students from northern universities to come up with a brand new technology innovation and UCLan was highly commended for its project.

The seven-person team comprised students from the computer games development and web design and development programmes. Team UCLan were represented by: Sam Hignett, James Hutchinson, Thomas Rands, James Gregory, Heather List, Liam Raven and Kyle Hobdey.


“This competition has helped me with the job application and interview processes I’ve been able to demonstrate that I have used soft skills such as leadership in a professional environment. I’ve been told in my interview feedback that this helped me stand out from other applicants.”


Given a hypothetical budget of £400,000, the team came up with a novel way of discovering the most popular programmes on BBC iPlayer. The students did so by using software to analyse what television programmes people were talking about the most on Twitter and they also developed a system whereby people could input their opinions on whatever was playing on iPlayer.

Team leader Tom Rands said: “Social media interaction is part of the modern TV experience. The biggest challenge was keeping to the budget, but we had a lot of help from the University and Northern Lights to get it done.”

The event was hosted by BBC Future Media at Salford’s MediaCity UK and UCLan was the only team to show how their idea would work on iPads. The students also benefited from mentoring from professionals working at both the BBC and Barclays.

Tom added: “This competition has helped me with the job application and interview processes I’ve been able to demonstrate that I have used soft skills such as leadership in a professional environment. I’ve been told in my interview feedback that this helped me stand out from other applicants.”

Mark Porter, UCLan Lecturer in media technology, is aiming to continue the success in next year’s competition. He said: “They couldn’t have done any better for their first time and we are looking to start a legacy. This is the level we are going to be working at.”