Show and Tell – April 2018

The next BCS Mid-Wales event is Show and Tell. This is on Friday 20th April from 6pm. It will take place at Aberystwyth University in the Physical Sciences building in room MP-0.15 (Physics Main). See the location on Open Street Map.

The format is similar to those that we have run before. We will start soon after 6pm and then have a break about 7pm for some pizza and drink.

For this session, we have invited final year students from the Computer Science department to talk about their Major Projects. We have also invited a few staff to talk about some things they are working on. If you are a 3rd year student who wants to offer a talk, please contact Nick Dimonaco ( who is organising the list of speakers and those who want to show their projects.

To register for the event, please visit

The event is free and open to everyone. If you have any questions about the event, please contact Nick.

Bletchley Park, Hitler’s secret messages and the birth of Colossus

Frontal view of the reconstructed Colossus at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park.jpg
By TedColesOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

We are pleased to welcome Phil Hayes to talk about how Bletchley Park were able to read Hitler’s secret messages, and the birth of the first electronic computer. Phil is the Chief Engineer engaged in the Colossus rebuild, from the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley.

Alongside Enigma came Lorenz, a more important cipher whose breaking was arguably of much greater value to the Allies. How this was done represented mathematics and engineering just as pioneering and influential as the cracking of Enigma and making of Turing’s Bombes, and resulted in Colossus, which is argued by many to be the world’s first electronic computer.

The talk is on Tuesday, 6th March at 6.15pm. This will be held at Aberystwyth University.

The meeting will be in MP-0.15 (Physics Main) in the Physical Sciences building, see Open Street Map for the location.

Booking your place

To book your free ticket for this event, please visit the Eventbrite page at:

About Phil Hayes

Phil studied electronics at Brighton in the early 70’s, then worked in several large electronics companies and organisations until he moved into data communications in the early 90’s. He finished his working career as a Network Security Architect for one of the major clearing banks in the city.  As a volunteer, Phil joined the Colossus Rebuild Project in 2000, and then in 2011 after the death of Tony Sale (Director of the Colossus Rebuild Project), he was approached by the National Museum of Computing to take on the full-time roll of Chief Colossus Engineer.

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Bioinformatics and Computational biology: 500 years of exciting problems?

We are pleased to welcome Dr Amanda Clare and Nick Dimonaco to talk at the next BCS Mid-Wales event. Amanda and Nick will be talking about ‘Bioinformatics and Computational biology: 500 years of exciting problems?’.

The talk is at 6.15pm on Monday 29th January, 2018.  This is in MP-0.10 (Physics B) in the Physical Sciences building at Aberystwyth University. Refreshments will be available from 5.30pm in the Physics Foyer.

The event is free and open to everyone. Please register on Eventbrite for your free ticket.


Famous computer scientist Donald Knuth has discussed his concerns that computer science in the future will be “pretty much working on refinements of well-explored things”, whereas “Biology easily has 500 years of exciting problems to work on”. We’ll describe some of the exciting problems that computer science enables us to explore and that we’re working on here.


Dr Amanda Clare is a Senior Lecturer at Aberystwyth University who applies computer science to analyse and manage biological data. Amanda enjoys writing code, inspecting data, automating biology and creating databases. She is a member of the BCS and a fellow of the HEA.

Nicholas Dimonaco is a PhD student at Aberystwyth University in the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences. He completed his undergraduate study in Computer Science at Aberystwyth with a focus on Computational Biology. His PhD focus is in the identification of biologically important genetic material from metagenomic samples. Metagenomics is the study of all microorganisms from a complex environment such as ocean floors or an animal’s gut. He is currently working on identifying genes from these environments. He is also a member of the BCS Mid-Wales committee.

Building Brains

We are pleased to support an event at Aberystwyth University. Computer pioneer Prof Steve Furber is speaking at Aberystwyth University on Friday October 27th at 4pm. Prof Furber is famous for work on the BBC Micro and for his co-design of the transformational ARM microprocessor.

The talk is about “Building a Brain” and details can be found on the Aberystwyth University website.

The event is free and it is open to the public.

For further details, please contact Neil Taylor at the University.

Melin Homes – Our Agile Working Journey

We are pleased to invite Sharon Crockett and Dave Evans from the PROMS-G group to talk to BCS Mid-Wales on 7th November. The talk starts at 6.15pm and it is held in MP-0.11 (Physics A) in the Physical Sciences building at Aberystwyth University.

Sharon and Dave are from Melin Homes, which are proud winners of the Workplace Transformation Project of the Year award at the 2016 UK IT Industry Awards.

The event is free and open to all.


Melin Homes is a Housing Association based in South Wales, employing just 245 staff and operating with limited resources. Melin have always had a very strong culture with a highly motivated staff team and 2 years ago they embarked on an ambitious journey to encourage their staff and Board to work smarter and become more agile and efficient. They are now in a position where all their staff, whether an office assistant or a gas engineer, are able to conduct their day to day duties completely remotely from anywhere they wish via the implementation of new technologies and working practices. Their dynamic vision has enabled them to drastically improve the services provided to their residents and partners whilst reducing costs, improving the working environment, reducing their impact upon the natural environment and delivering greater job satisfaction and empowerment for all their staff. And this is only the beginning……

About the speakers

Sharon is Assistant Director Business Consultancy and Dave is Technology Manager at Melin and both have been with Melin since it’s creation in 2007. Sharon manages all support services at Melin and has project managed the transformational change throughout their agile working journey. Dave has provided the technical support to make this happen and Dave’s team continue to support their staff in utilising and developing the technology they require. Together, Sharon & Dave have provided a united front to carefully manage the culture change in the organisation and continue to drive the technological advancements for the future.

Development and use of fit-for-purpose computer simulation as a laboratory tool

Fiona Polcak

We are pleased to invite Prof Fiona Polack to talk to BCS Mid-Wales on December 4th. This will be at Aberystwyth University at 6.15pm. This is in MP-0.11 (Physics A) in the Physical Sciences building. Map showing location. There will be drinks and sandwiches before the event from 5.45 in the Physics Foyer.

The event is free and open to everyone.

We have been asking people to sign-up for a free ticket on Eventbrite. The eventbrite registration is now closed, but there is still space to come along. Just turn up on the day.


Laboratory research in biological sciences has traditionally been limited to what can be observed or deduced from observed behaviour. Computer simulation, and particularly agent-based simulation, can mimic the known or hypothesised behaviour of biological systems, and can be used to support and develop theories about the behaviour that causes observed features and behaviours. For a decade, a team at the York Computational Immunology Lab (YCIL) has been developing simulations with laboratory researchers, and developing the reputation of computational models in immune-systems research. The work builds on the CoSMoS project, an EPSRC-funded multi-site project exploring fit-for-purpose modelling and simulation. This talk explores some of the challenges and the achievements of the YCIL team, with reference to simulations or simulation designs for projects including peyer’s patch development, EAE, prostate cancer and BPH.


Fiona Polack has recently been appointed as Chair of Software Engineering at Keele University. Previously, at University of York, she has worked in formal and diagrammatic aspects of software modelling and specification. More recently, also at York, she has supervised significant research in model driven engineering. She has developed argumentation as a software engineering technique for capturing the rationale for engineering decisions. Fiona is an interdisciplinary researcher, working with biologists, electrical engineers, social scientists, physicists and many others.

AGM 2017 and Is Society Ready for Driverless Cars?

Driverless Cars

The 2017 Annual General Meeting for BCS Mid-Wales will be held on Thursday 5th October. This starts at 6.15pm in MP-0.15 (Physics Main) in the Physical Sciences building at Aberystwyth University. A map is available. The AGM agenda is available.

Immediately following the AGM, we are pleased to invite Prof. Martyn Thomas to talk about ‘Is Society Ready for Driverless Cars?’ An abstract and biography is available below. You may remember that Martyn came to talk about The Dilemmas of Big Data, in January 2014.

There will drinks and a light buffet available from 5.45 in the Physics Foyer, outside the room.


The event is free and open to all. Please register to attend at eventbrite.

Is Society Ready for Driverless Cars?

A lecture by Martyn Thomas CBE FREng

The amount of automation in cars has been steadily increasing for decades—early examples include anti-lock brakes, central locking, anti-theft devices, automatic transmission, and air bags. There is no doubt that automation will lead to full autonomy in many vehicle applications, as it already has in elevators, on some rail lines and elsewhere. This lecture focuses on the progress towards full autonomy in automobiles, where there seems to be an announcement every week that fully driverless cars and lorries will be arriving soon but where there are many questions that have not yet been answered.

The UK Government has been encouraging, consulting on and facilitating the development and introduction of driverless cars (autonomous vehicles or AVs) and in February 2017 published a draft Bill to legislate for their compulsory insurance. These documents show that the Government expects AVs to be introduced in the UK in “five to ten years” – that is, between 2022 and 2027. Meanwhile, car manufacturers have introduced or announced cars that can drive themselves, and it seems certain that many cars will be driving themselves on UK roads with limited or no human supervision, well before 2027.

This lecture explores what needs to be done to make the development and use of driverless cars possible, safe and of overall benefit to society. The lecture covers

  • Levels of Automation
  • Plans and Timescales
  • The Social Benefits that driverless Cars might bring
  • The Social Problems that Driverless Cars might bring
  • How Safe is Safe Enough?
  • How Safe are Human Drivers on UK Roads?
  • Technology related issues to be overcome
  • Transition to Driverless Cars: should human drivers be banned?
  • Conclusions

Martyn Thomas

Martyn is Professor of Information Technology at Gresham College in London and a visiting professor at the University of Aberystwyth. He has almost 50 years experience in the computer industry and working with university research groups. He is a Board Member of the Health and Safety Executive and a former director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Show & Tell – September 2017

The next event will be a Show & Tell, held with the Aberystwyth Computer Science Department. This will be on Friday 29th September, from 6.15pm. These have been very popular and offer short talks and the opportunity to see some exhibits of technical projects or interesting technical ideas.

The event is free and open to all. There will be some drinks and pizza at the break.

If you haven’t been to a Show and Tell event before, you can see some details at

If you have something that you would like to show or tell us about at the event, please complete the Google Form to give us some information. We can then make a selection from the different items we receive and plan the order.

If you would like to just come along and watch, please tell us using the eventbrite form at

Creating Robots That Care – Karen Spärck Jones Lecture 2017

BCS Mid-Wales and Aberystwyth University are delighted to invite you to our Karen Spärck Jones broadcast event, in which we’ll stream the showcase lecture, Creating Robots that Care, and provide opportunity for networking before and after the event. This will be held in Physical Sciences building at Aberystwyth University.

To honour the pioneering work of Karen Spärck Jones the BCS holds a distinguished lecture in her name each year, celebrating a prominent female computing researcher. This is aimed at a wide general audience: we welcome all ages and levels of computing experience. This lecture will be delivered by Dr Maja Matarić and will be streamed live at Aberystwyth University.

The talk is from 6:00 – 7:30pm – Creating Robots that Care Lecture – Dr Maja Matarić – Thursday 25th May 2017.

Light refreshments are available from 5.30 outside the lecture room.

The main information site for the talk is

Book your place

The event is free and open to everyone. To reserve your free place, please book for the Aberystwyth Venue at Eventbrite.


How can human-robot interaction be improved by making robots more socially intelligent? This is the key question at the heart of socially assistive robotics (SAR): a new field of intelligent robotics that focuses on developing machines capable of assisting users through social rather than physical interaction, in order to encourage people to have the drive and motivation to do their own work, for improved health and wellness. Our research brings together engineering, health sciences, neuroscience, social, developmental, and cognitive sciences to create robots that can serve as coaches, motivators, and companions. This requires personalising human-robot interaction through appropriate speech, gesture, and body language; the embodiment is the most important even without physical work. Our successes include coaching stroke patients to perform rehabilitation activities, helping children with autism to learn social skills, encouraging teens at risk for type-2 diabetes to exercise, motivating first graders to make healthy food choices, and helping elderly patients with Alzheimer’s disease to stay engaged.

This talk will describe those projects and the associated research into embodiment, modelling and steering of social dynamics, and long-term user adaptation for SAR, illustrated with many videos.

Dr Matarić

Dr Maja Matarić is the Professor and Chan Soon-Shiong Chair of Computer Science, Neuroscience & Pediatrics; Founding Director at the USC’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center; and Director of the USC’s Robotics Research Lab.

IT Project Success and the Role of BCS

We are pleased to invite Ray Long to talk to us about IT Project Success and the Role of BCS. Ray says that it is a mixture of presentation and discussion and promises to be an interesting session. Ray is joining us fresh from his year as President for BCS.

Drawing on his own IT career and history with the BCS, Immediate Past-President Ray Long will lead a discussion on the theme for his Presidential year of driving up the success rate of IT projects and what BCS can do to support this, considering where the Institute has come from, how it is currently positioning itself to take the lead in making IT good for society, and how it should develop during the years ahead. Ray will consider our current strategy, challenges and areas of interest – as the BCS celebrates its 60th anniversary, please come prepared not just to listen, but also to make your views known, as we debate the issues which will determine the success of our next 60 years and beyond in contributing to IT project success as well as other areas.

The session is open to everyone and it is free.

We hope you are able to join us at 6pm on Monday 8th May, with refreshments available from 5.30pm in the Physical Sciences foyer at Aberystwyth University. For location, please see–?m=

Speaker Profile: Ray Long joined the UK Senior Civil Service when moving to the Department of Health in 1977, before his appointment as IT Director at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions in 1999. He became CEO of the Northern Ireland Business Development Service in 2004 before serving as Programme Director for the nationwide NHS Choose and Book service and Major Projects Director in the Cabinet Office. He joined HMRC as Director of Business Tax Change in 2011, before becoming Director of Corporate Services Change in 2013. In 2014 he joined the Department for Work and Pensions, initially with responsibility for that Department’s Infrastructure Modernisation Programme, more recently as Director of Technology Platforms, and now as CEO of Benefits and Pensions Digital Technology Services Ltd, the Government-owned company established to insource IT applications development, maintenance and support services. Ray has also been an Associate Lecturer with The Open University since 1993, delivering programmes of leadership and strategy in the UK and internationally. A Chartered Director, Engineer and IT Professional, he is a graduate of the Government’s Major Projects Leadership Academy and a Warden of the IT City Livery Company.