Genesys was designed as an opportunity for software engineering students to experience what it’s like in a real-work working environment as part of the academic curriculum. The original module (founded in 1997) focussed on teams of students finding potential customers in the local area and working together to design, build and deliver that software in its entirety. In 2007, epiGenesys was founded to provide longer-term support for the projects that students were building. Over the years, that role evolved to include more training and support throughout the projects, including sourcing potential customers and managing the infrastructure needed to run the module (e.g. servers, demo sites, tooling etc.)
epiGenesys is a commercial software engineering company, conducting our own business and operating as a social enterprise; reinvesting profits back into the teaching activities we do, including providing scholarships, supporting student-led STEM societies and helping the computer science department purchase specialist equipment.
Over the first 4-5 weeks of the semester, training sessions were delivered covering topics such as;
- Agile software development practices (Test driven development, version control)
- Automated and manual testing (Unit, end-to-end, integration, user testing)
- Design and user experience (Personas, journey mapping, parallel prototyping, interactive mockups, acquiring and using feedback)
- Project management (Kanban, planning, risk management)
- Building a web application (Ruby on Rails)
Students were given the opportunity to put these skills into practice via a mini project where a member of epiGenesys staff acted as a customer and provided formative feedback.
epiGenesys sourced suitable projects from other departments in the University and small local businesses or charities. Each team was assigned a project to work on for the rest of the year. These were primarily data management tools to assist in day-to-day running, for example cost calculators for complex engineering projects, task management for clinical trial research teams or a managing charitable donations alongside bookings for Christmas tree recycling.
Students met on a weekly basis with their mentor (a member of epiGenesys staff) to review progress, receive formative feedback and solve any problems that the team were facing.