Chair of Government IT Committee to inspect Genesys Solutions,

a unique student-run software design company


Richard Allen MP, Chair of the House of Commons IT Committee, will visit the University of Sheffield Computer Science Department on Friday 14th May between 11.15am and 12.15pm. Richard Allen MP himself holds a post-graduate degree in the subject, and has expressed enthusiasm for the work being done by students in Sheffield. The MP will be looking at the University’s Industrial Software Projects designed to bring together university computer science and industry.


In particular, Richard Allen will be finding out more about Genesys Solutions, an IT consultancy and software development company, based in the Computer Science Department at the University of Sheffield, which provides computing solutions to local businesses. What makes the company unique is that its eight members are all students in their fourth year, studying for a Masters degree in Software Engineering. This projects is the only one of its kind in the UK, and broadens students' understanding of business and industry needs.


According to Professor Mike Holcombe of the University’s Computer Science Department:


‘Having a student-run company helps dispel the belief held by some employers in the IT sector, that degree courses in computing do not adequately prepare graduates for employment. The industrial software projects we run are designed to give students experience in solving real business problems, communication and negotiation with clients, team management, and planning of quality-assured software systems. We have even been told by some of our clients that the quality of our students' work is considerably better than much of the output from the software industry.’


The interest of Richard Allen MP in the project continues the Department of Computer Science’s working relationship with government on a number of IT matters. For example, the department has been asked for evidence by the government's Task Force on Skills.



Notes for Editors:


Genesys Solutions was established in 1997. It exists to prepare students for employment, by introducing them to local business clients with practical problems in need of software solutions. As part of their training, students attend a course on running their own business, provided by a local business consultancy organisation. In the process of managing and implementing clients' software projects, they learn about the legal and financial framework of IT companies and about the design of cost-effective and quality-assured IT solutions.


Genesys Solutions clients include a stamp dealership, a health care company, a medical research group and the regional office of a national charity. The company has worked on systems for invoice processing, engineering standards validation and the management of donations. They have also been involved in creating Web sites with on-line database access and developing training materials in the use of the Internet.


All the students have some prior experience of team project work, having been involved in our "Crossover" project as first years and in our "Software Hut" project for second year students, which also involves software development for local commercial/industrial clients including two Sheffield engineering companies, a utilities company and a charity.


‘The company members are responsible for planning and managing their project time-scales, for organising their work in teams and for adopting quality assurance procedures. We know these are skills which employers are looking for in new IT graduates: skills which we feel are best developed by the experience of meeting real business requirements,’ said Professor Holcombe.


The courses have received valuable support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England's Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL) initiative.