Student software engineer’s ‘moon shot’ impresses judges at annual awards bash
A young software engineer has scooped a top award for developing a solution that offers greater accuracy in mapping the moon’s surface.
Struan Robertson, originally from the Isle of Eigg in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, took the prize home at an annual awards ceremony for his project on ‘Lunar Terrain Void Infilling’.
The Dundee University student was feted at the 34th Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards, hosted by tech trade body ScotlandIS last night in Edinburgh.
Models of the moon’s surface typically show literal gaps in knowledge from where spacecrafts have not been able to see the surface.
Struan’s project used a machine learning model to make incredibly accurate assumptions to fill in these gaps, solving an ongoing issue in lunar surface modelling.
This innovative solution allows for more accurate maps of the moon’s surface to be developed and is also applicable to earth-based challenges such as disaster management and climate change planning.
The judges recognised the challenging technical complexity of this project, and admired Struan’s creative yet structured approach to the problem, and his real achievements in demonstrating a successful outcome.
The awards recognised a further three students for their outstanding work.
Enrique Martin Ocana, of Strathclyde University, was named runner-up for his use of autoregressive language models in the classroom. The project considered the comparative effectiveness of traditional educational content, versus content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence). He impressed judges by clearly articulating both the contributions and drawbacks of AI generated content in an educational setting.
Aberdeen University student, William Brown, was a runner-up with his automatic code reviewer recommendations in the open-source project, MediaWiki. Code review is a critical element in open-source developments, and William compared the success of using a rule-based system to select the reviewer or using a neural network to perform the recommendations.
Finally, the Leidos Best Engineering Prize was awarded to Michael Suttie, of Edinburgh Napier University. Michael developed a prototype telemetry application with practical uses in Formula 1 e-sports. His application presents both live and historical real-life Formula 1 telemetry data in a simplified way to help amateur and entry-level drivers improve lap times in F1 e-sports.
Karen Meechan, CEO at ScotlandIS, said: “Each year we are amazed at the amount of young talent coming through our universities, showcasing true innovation by producing creative solutions to solve real-world problems.
“These awards are a fantastic way for us to showcase the exceptional technological minds, cultivated right here in Scotland, as they begin their transitions into the workplace.
“It’s ever more important to acknowledge and foster emerging talent to ensure that our tech sector in Scotland continues to flourish. Our industry needs to constantly evolve with skilled people staying ahead of the curve – especially with the growth of AI. This year’s winners really demonstrate how original thinking and a flair for software engineering can transform our understanding of and aptitude in wide-ranging subjects – congratulations to all.”
The longstanding Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards are held annually by ScotlandIS, to champion budding talent in the Scottish technology industry and highlight the innovation and ideas coming from Scotland’s university students.
To enter, universities submit the best final year software engineering project from among their undergraduate computing science and software engineering courses for the awards.
Other shortlisted students included Mads Bendixen, Abertay University, Jack Duffy, Glasgow Caledonian University, Laura Schauer, Heriot Watt University and Irvyn Hall, Robert Gordon University.