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Winner of Placement of the Year 2016 announced!
09 October 2016

ThinkAnalytics win Placement of the Year 2016

Craig Bell, MEng Computing Science student at Strathclyde University, together with leading provider of real-time personalised content recommendations engine, ThinkAnalytics, have been awarded first prize in the e-Placement Scotland Placement of the Year Awards at ScotSoft 2016, in recognition of an outstanding student placement.

Craig worked with ThinkAnalytics for three months using the skills learned on his computer science course to design, create and implement a metadata analysis tool and JIRA migration tool. Craig described the boost in confidence that the placement has given him: "Working with ThinkAnalytics has certainly improved my confidence in both my own capabilities, and also my confidence in what I do not know. While previously I would have been shy to admit I was lacking in an area of knowledge, I now feel that I can happily ask and learn from someone more experienced, and that they will be more than willing to help. I also feel that the placement has improved how I approach tasks to find the best solution to a problem (which may not always be the easiest)."

Loretta Perry, Head of HR & Development, said: "Using his academic knowledge and experience, Craig was able to bring interesting and innovative ideas into the projects. Each step of the way he demonstrated the maturity and understanding equivalent to a full-time professional. We were incredibly pleased with his planning and communication skills which were without doubt just as important to the success of the assignments as his academic proficiency. For the business this is all positive reinforcement of the quality of the teaching and the curriculums in place at our Scottish Universities in supporting and preparing students for transferring what they have learned at University into the workplace.

As the award applications were of such exceptional quality, two joint runner-up prizes were also awarded. Jamie Ferguson, BSc Computing Science student at Aberdeen University, together with Pulsion Technology, received the award for first runner-up.

Pulsion Technology provides innovative digital, mobile and consultancy services across the UK and the US, specialising in business analysis & consulting, software development, web design and resource & support services. Jamie described his experience: "My placement has definitely changed me for the better, personally. Since most of my projects within the company were research and development, I was required to take an abstract and often complex theoretical basis for an algorithm or system and go on to design and implement them. Being able to develop an abstract idea into something tangible and useful is a massive boost to confidence as it reinforces that I have a good understanding of the knowledge I gained during my degree."

John McGuire, CEO of Pulsion, described the value of the placement: "Given Jamie’s experience and enthusiasm for machine learning, he was given the task to train a neural network to be able to traverse an entire website then recognise and extract products along with attributes such as name and price. The algorithm achieved a high level of accuracy and we believe will save around 90% of the current effort employed in gathering this data. The machine learning algorithm will also allow the number of websites we can scrape to grow exponentially with little increase in human effort and will also adapt more quickly to changes in the websites we scrape."

James Minney, BSc Computing Science student at Strathclyde University, together with Klik2learn, were the other runners-up. Klik2learn, a digital design company that specialises in education, produced the first ever fully-digital SQA qualification, working with education and training organisations to create blended learning content and courses. James described his experience: "Working at Klik2Learn has greatly increased my confidence in my own technical abilities, while also teaching me how to work as a member of a team. Prior to working at Klik2learn I may have been reluctant to offer my opinion on how a problem might be solved, whereas now I would be eager to provide my input to the solution."

Ann Attridge, CEO of Klik2learn, said: "Overall, the placement has played a vital part in driving a small, ambitious start-up forward and has enabled us to get a product to market much faster and more cost–effectively than we could ever have done on our own. James’s contribution to the company has been invaluable and our future success will be due in no small part to him."

e-Placement Scotland was established to close the computing skills gap by matching able students with high-quality work placements across Scotland. In September 2016, the programme, run by Edinburgh Napier University and the trade body for the digital technologies industry ScotlandIS, reached the milestone of its 1500th paid placement.

e-Placement Scotland director, Sally Smith, thanked all the companies who entered the awards and offered congratulations to all the winners.

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