As our project with UTC Reading comes to a close it's time to reflect on what was achieved, what was learned by the UTC students and what we learned from the experience.
The feedback has been incredibly positive. The students were extremely enthusiastic and were excited by the best practice they'd been taught. They were used to spaghetti coding, they hadn't considered the real world importance of defining interfaces at the beginning of a project and creating API's or concurrent development of modular parts in sub teams. Those who got the opportunity really enjoyed the 3D design and printing of parts in our lab. Limited space meant we couldn't have all 7 of them in the lab unfortunately.
Innovation catalyst were impressed by the behavior and conduct of the students who were working in their collaborative and open plan space along side paying residents.
I was delighted to meet one of the teams' parents at a UTC Hackathon arranged by a team students (most of our team were there, either as organizers or competitors) and they felt it had been hugely valuable.
There is an elephant in the room now. The project. Sadly the project isn't entirely finished.
The idea they were working on is a cat flap which knows whether your cat came in or out, can be locked in/out/both ways to a schedule and on an ad-hoc basis from the app, which would also tell you whether your cat came in or went out last. It had to work with multi cat households to. We also wanted to possibility to add auxiliary sensors in other locations such a food/water, an open window, etc to improve accuracy.
The app works, the hardware works, the software works, they just didn't quite get it all connected together. They did do some great branding which was completely unexpected. So close, yet so far. The good news is that we're speaking with UTC Reading about how we go about supporting them finishing the project and a few possibilities have come to light.
We hope to be able to report that the project is finished in the future.
We're keen to do this, or something like it again, we know the UTC would like to do it again so watch this space!