BCS-in-Scotland, a grouping of the BCS Branches and Specialist Groups in Scotland, continued its long-standing involvement with the annual ScotSoft event organised by ScotlandIS; this year on 7 October. Mike Hurst, Treasurer and Webmaster of The BCS Edinburgh Branch, reports.

ScotlandIS is the membership and cluster management organisation for Scotland’s Digital Technologies industry. It is an authoritative voice in that sector.

ScotSoft is recognised as a ‘must-attend’ technology event in Scotland: an annual festival of ideas and innovation that showcases the best of the Scottish technology sector. It consists of a full day conference with multiple streams, followed by a gala dinner in the evening, the highlight of which are the Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards.

The conference was online and free again this year (due to COVID). It had over 700 delegates in attendance and renowned global speakers covering everything from breaking web applications and machine learning, to space tech and emerging technologies.

The fascinating keynote was from former NASA astronaut, Dr Bonnie Dunbar, on how space exploration has driven digital innovation. There was also an education stream aimed at teachers and young people, to help better inform them of the variety of careers in tech and how to get into these roles.

YSE Awards

The Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards dinner was one of the first gatherings of the digital technologies industry in almost two years. Based on Scottish Government guidelines it was limited to 250 ‘select’ attendees this year (normally it is around 500). It did feel a bit strange to be socialising again though!

The YSE Awards recognise the best undergraduate software projects, drawn from across all students studying computing science and software engineering in Scotland. Each university submits the best final year undergraduate software engineering project from amongst its students.

The judging criteria includes: the level of knowledge of the area of work, previous research, innovation, planning and organisation, technical complexity, quality of presentation, commercial or social relevance and quality of engineering.

BCS is represented on the judging panel for the YSE awards and BCS continues its sponsorship of the runner-up prize (Sopra Steria traditionally sponsors the prize for first place).

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This year, the BCS sponsored second prize was awarded to Victor Slavov of Stirling University for his work implementing virtualisation-based software protection in Java, in order to strengthen the quality of intellectual property protection that can be built into the programming language. He was presented with a cheque for £2,000 by BCS Trustee Sharon Moore MBE CITP FBCS.

The BCS logo was prominently displayed, both at the awards dinner and during the conference.

BCS-in-Scotland also takes a table at the awards dinner to which we invite BCS trustees and executives and senior IT people from the public and private sector in Scotland. The purpose is to showcase the role of BCS with these industry leaders.

At the last ScotSoft in 2019, we welcomed the BCS Trustee Board. This year COVID discouraged that, although we were pleased to have BCS Policy Manager Arnoldis Nyamande in attendance.

Our guests this year included the CEO of Scottish Tech Army, Alistair Forbes, and Director of the Ada Scotland Festival, Dr Matt Barr. We were also able to introduce Arnoldis to the CEO of ScotlandIS, Karen Meechan, and the Chair of CodeClan, Bill Douglas. There are opportunities for cooperation between BCS and these organisations.