Students gain first client-focused development experience

Friday, December 6th, 2019

Computer Science and Software Engineering students from the University of Adelaide have developed new applications and algorithms for chaotic stockpile modelling, block model compression, recruitment and coding challenges with support from Maptek mentors.

In 2019, the Maptek-sponsored projects saw staff volunteering their time from March to November to act as prospective clients. While the projects are formally assessed and contribute directly towards their grades, students also gain real-world experience that can’t be taught in the classroom by working on projects that deliver client-centric results.

Joshua Dixon’s project focused on compressing block models

Maptek Head of Development Mine Operations Will Reid, who oversaw the projects, said Maptek has been working with university students to extend their learning environment/enrich their learning experience for some time.

‘In the last few years, we’ve expanded this to a number of courses and disciplines across the university,’ he said. ‘We find the feedback from students highlights the importance of getting real-world experience in capturing requirements, creating system designs, providing prototypes, and being able to pivot their development based on customer requests.’

Will said Maptek looked forward to sponsoring similar projects in the future to continue providing real-world experience to university students.

‘We have found this is a great way to shape and prepare university graduates for life in the development world. It’s also a great joy to see them get excited about the same types of work we do here at Maptek every day!’

For many of the students, working on these projects was their first taste of real software development work with a client. Read on to learn more about the projects and what students gained from their experience.

Russell Woodcock, Xuxin Alfred Chen & Jiarong Fan claimed an Ingenuity prize for their Chaotic Stockpile Modelling project

The projects


Students from the Software Engineering & Project course developed a web-based recruitment application for Maptek called Hire-Me-Coder. The project entailed documentation and software development component and to be successful the application needed to include both admin and user interfaces.

‘Through participating in this project, we gained experience in the software development process, in our project management skills, and also in developing our knowledge and skills to apply them to an industry project,’ group member Rui Qi Sim said. ‘This opportunity to work with industry has motivated us to develop and apply our skills learnt at university, such as working in a small team and negotiating requirements with clients.’

Block Model Compression Algorithm

This project was a solo effort by Joshua Dixon as part of his Topics in Computer Science course. His task was to develop an algorithm that coalesces sub-blocks in a block model to minimise the number of sub-blocks while preserving all the detail, effectively compressing the block model.

‘The best part about taking part in this project was being exposed to industry, which meant I could meet with people who actually work on software that is being used,’ Joshua said. ‘It was a brand new and invaluable experience for me that you just can’t get in class at university.’

Chaotic Stockpile Modelling

Students from the Software Engineering & Project course developed a software application with the goal of modelling believable simulation of granular materials. This project won the Computer Science/Software Engineering prize at the University of Adelaide’s Ingenuity 2019 expo.

Team member Jiarong Fang said the group work process had helped them improve their project management abilities.

‘This was a great experience because we were exposed to software development processes that traditional university courses are not able to provide,’ Jiarong said.


Software Engineering & Project course students developed a web application called Maptek-A-Thon, which allowed users to participate in coding challenges that will then be ranked and displayed on a leaderboard.

Christopher Rockliff said the project gave his group a ‘fantastic introduction to what professional software development involves’.

‘Personally, I found this project to be a more realistic project undertaken in a more professional environment than anything else I had done at university.’

‘I think the skills I developed and the experience I gained will translate very well with respect to industry practice as a software engineer. Prior to this, all my coding experience had been either as an individual or in very small groups, so this project gave me the opportunity to experience what software engineering would be like in a larger team and in an Agile based environment,’ teammate Christopher Blute added.

Maptek has strongly supported universities across the globe for more than 30 years by providing educational software licences, hardware donations and technical guidance.

Learn more about Maptek university partnerships here:

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