School of CS newsletterPublished: Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Weekly newsletter for the School of CS
[ top ]News from Head of School
Good news for Computer Science in the Budget
Those who listened to the Budget speech on Wednesday (!) may have noticed a remarkable passage about new funding for Computer Science education in schools.
Here are the details: "The Budget will ensure that every secondary school has a fully qualified computer science GCSE teacher, by committing £84 million to upskill 8,000 computer science teachers by the end of this Parliament. The government will also work with industry to set up a new National Centre for Computing to produce training material and support schools.”
This is a large sum of money, and promises a transformation of computing education in schools across the nation. It follows considerable lobbying and work by a number of organisations. The Royal Society, through a panel chaired by Steve Furber, issued a report in Manchester several weeks ago recommending a major upgrading of CS in schools. BCS and Computing At School (CAS), especially CAS Regional Centres, such as our UoM team here, have been active not only in supporting schools across the region, but also in lobbying government and, through our activities, showing how real change can happen in schools. This has led to this important, and very welcome, intervention by the government. David Rydeheard
This year's School of Computer Science Children in Need auction raised £291. Thank you to the folk in ACSO for arranging the auction and for everyone that donated items and bid for them.
[ top ]News and announcements
The Data Science Institute is pleased to announce that the University of Manchester is set to join The Alan Turing Institute as a University partner. Manchester will join the founding universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Warwick and UCL and will work with their growing network of partners in industry and government to advance the world-changing potential of data science.
The Alan Turing Institute is named in honour of Alan Turing whose pioneering work in theoretical and applied mathematics, engineering and computing are considered to be the key disciplines comprising the emerging field of data science. The name and work of Alan Turing is closely linked to The University of Manchester, as in 1948 he was appointed Reader in the Mathematics Department. Turing's long list of achievements also include cracking the Enigma code at Bletchley Park, exploring artificial intelligence, producing designs for a digital computer, working as Deputy Director of the Computing Laboratory and developing software for the Manchester Ferranti Mark 1.
Presently, Manchester has an engaged data science community of over 600 investigators, with methodologists embedded in Schools across the University working on research in health and biology, social and policy, environment, urban, business and management and the physical sciences.
With regards to The Alan Turing Institute's expansion of its university network, Alan Wilson, CEO of The Alan Turing Institute, commented: “We are extending our university network in recognition of our role as a national institute and because we believe that increasing collaboration between researchers and private, public and third sector organisations will enable the UK to undertake the most ambitious, impactful research possible."
Professor Chris Taylor FREng OBE, Associate Vice President of Research at the University of Manchester commented: “We are all excited by the prospect of working more closely with colleagues in the Turing, and hope we can help to strengthen a critically important national asset.”
[ top ]Events
Head of School Coffee Morning & Charity Cake Sale - Date: 30th November 2017
Venue: Staff/ Postgrad common Room 1.23 Kilburn Building
Join us for the monthly coffee morning with the Head of School and Cakes, treats and all things delicious! Join us for a charity cake sale to raise funds for Together Dementia Support, a local dementia charity for isolated people with dementia in Manchester. All proceeds will go to helping their community groups that provide advice, guidance and support to people with dementia, their Carers and families.
We look forward to seeing you in the Kilburn Staff/ Postgrad Common Room at 11am on 30th November to help this worthy cause! If you enjoy baking and you would like to contribute a cake to the charity cake sale, please bring your cake along. All donations very welcome. Thank you!
[ top ]Funding Opportunities
A new programme supporting talented researchers from across the Commonwealth to conduct innovative and impactful research at UK universities is now open for applications.
Commonwealth Rutherford Fellowships are for highly skilled researchers from other Commonwealth countries to spend one or two years at an eligible UK university conducting postdoctoral research.
These fellowships are funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through the Rutherford Fund. They are offered through the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) and managed by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).
The deadline for applications is 11 December 2017. For full details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit http://bit.ly/cscuk-rutherford
Further information and advice is available from Jasmin Osman, Programme Officer, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission:
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 6753
MICRA is delighted to announce its Seedcorn award call for 2017-2018. This year's call includes joint awards from external partners, including Manchester: Improving Medicine with Innovation and Technology (MIMIT), The Centre for Ageing Better, Care & Repair England and Manchester Metropolitan University.
We are seeking applications for interdisciplinary research, that is clearly related to ageing; £6,000 is available per project.
A number of general awards will be made; in addition to these, we specifically encourage applications to one of our joint awards highlighting the following subjects: patient determined unmet healthcare and wellbeing needs; vascular dementia; relationships in later life; ageism and inequalities in ageing; and housing adaptations.
The deadline for applications is 8 January 2018, with a requirement that funds are spent by 31 July 2018. Proposed activity must lead to at least one specific outcome such as a research proposal, a journal article or working manuscript. The commissioning panel will meet in January with the aim of communicating decisions no later than 17 January 2018.
The current call is attached and further information on past calls is available here.
Please contact Dr Michael Leverentz, Institute Manager, for further information: 0161 275 1298
[ top ]Tech Support News
When travelling, or just generally away from home / campus, colleagues often use public wifi hotspots. Please be aware that it is straightforward for someone to simulate such, and get access to your data – via the so-called man-in-the-middle attack. You likely know that the normal advice is to run a VPN when using such hotspots.
With the introduction of 2FA we have a new VPN (GlobalProtect*), and you may think that will protect you from wifi hotspot attacks. It will not. The reason being that, unlike the older Cisco VPN, it only routes certain addresses through its tunnel to the University, everything else goes through the route set up by the hotspot (ISP or attacker!). Currently, only traffic to the University network is routed via the GlobalProtect "split tunnel" VPN. Your services from any other provider are not protected by GlobalProtect.
With the Cisco VPN all your traffic is routed to the University. This approach also has its downsides; for example: you can't print to your home network printer whilst it is active (as your home printer is not on the University network).
In general you can't run two VPNs at the same time (and expect them to "do the right thing").
Back to what to do when travelling. Here are some choices – I do the last one.
- Run Cisco VPN. When you need to do email (native client), quit it, run GlobalProtect/2FA, do email session; quit GlobalProtect and disable it, run Cisco VPN again. (I doubt many people will do this.) And, see also the note below.
- You could just run Cisco VPN and do email via a browser (outlook.manchester.ac.uk). In the near future, this approach will ask for 2FA too, but will not insist that you also use GlobalProtect. But, see also the note below.
- If all the non-University services you connect to use encryption – via say TLS/SSL/SSH – that is just as secure to man-in-the-middle attacks as a "full tunnel" VPN [Thanks to Matt Foster for this advice.]
- Create your own wifi hotspot via your smart phone and 4G.
My personal view: I think option 4 is now so cheap that there is often no need to use a third party hotspot.
Note: IT Services plan, at some stage, to phase out Cisco VPN as GlobalProtect covers more services.
Thanks to Alan Rector, and others, for bringing this subject up.
* Linux users have OpenVPN instead of GlobalProtect. I don't have enough experience on how that works to comment.
[ top ]Sustainability and Green Impact News
Simon Harper and his 'Beelife' team have been successful in their application to the FSE Social Responsibility funding competition and have been given a grant of £3000 for a 360 degree camera, infra-red camera and hive improvements.