For the last couple of years the department has run "Rather Useful Seminars" every Wednesday afternoon. These are on topics that we know students would find useful, but we can't manage to fit them into our crammed courses. We've covered things like 3D printing, personal presentation, starting a business, web site security, Unity game development and all kinds of useful topics. You can find the latest schedule for this semester here.
Today we had our first seminar of the season. Rob Miles of the department was waxing lyrical about the Arduino platform. This is a startlingly cheap way to get into using tiny embedded computers to do really interesting things. For around the price of a video game you can end up with a computer and a whole range of motors, displays and sensors.
Rob used an powered Arduino device to create his "Tags of Fun" which were used to dish out drinks at the Welcome Party and he will be using the tags in the first year programming course to award spot prizes to students duirng lectures.
Judging by the response of the audience this is something that folks are keen to have a to at, and so we will probably set up a "Hardware Fiddling" club for students who are interested in getting to grips with embedded development.