UCL Computer Science


10 Years of UCL Industry Exchange Network (UCL IXN)

Developed by Dean Mohamedally and Graham Roberts, UCL IXN has been running for a decade and has given thousands of students the opportunity to work on projects with a wide range of partners

UCL IXN group photo

Developed by Prof. Dean Mohamedally and Prof. Graham Roberts, UCL IXN has now (in 2021) been running for a decade and has given thousands of students the opportunity to work on projects with a wide range of partners, including the big tech companies, many businesses, the NHS, charities, and all sorts of other organisations.

Right from the start the goal has been to allow students to apply the programming, theory, and maths knowledge they are learning in their taught modules to solving real-world practical problems. This very much builds on the ethos of the department in using research results to build practical solutions.

UCL IXN started out focussing on projects internal to UCL to build experience, but quickly gained the attention of external companies, most notably Microsoft and more recently IBM. It has developed into a complete teaching methodology, based on the 'See One, Do One, Teach One' principle. What has made UCL IXN successful is that it is integrated into degree programmes, works on a large scale, and enables the development of a wide range of personal and technical skills.

UCL IXN has expanded in a range of directions and has built collaborations with many organisations. A number of other UK universities have now joined the National Framework for IXNs and started running their own IXN programmes. International institutions are joining as well. IBM, Microsoft, and the NHS have also started IXN programmes, the IXN for Good focusses on working with charities, and the IXN Innovation specialises in banking and finance.

I've learnt a lot about dealing with stakeholders, developing with the client needs in mind, and handling changing requirements and priorities. This is something that not many people I've spoken with from other universities had the opportunity to learn about, and I certainly think is was incredibly useful for my career. Iuliana-Elena Parasca, graduated 2017 Google, Software Engineer

Over the last 18 months, we have had to operate all UCL IXN projects remotely, communicating with tools like Zoom and Teams. This has turned out to work well, allowing projects to run as near normally as possible. A good number of projects have been health related, a very successful example being MotionInput developed in collaboration with Microsoft and Great Ormand Street Hospital (GOSH). MotionInput is a method for touch-less based input using hand, head, and eye gestures, particularly relevant in the medical sector where the physical contact with electronic devices needs to be minimised. See motioninput.com for more information. 
To support UCL IXN and related external engagement activities the department now has a Strategic Alliances Team (SAT), that has developed robust procedures for building and maintaining the relationships with the many industry, charitable and healthcare organisations we now work with.
We would very much welcome contact from those who wish to engage with UCL IXN programme by providing projects for current and future students, and potentially acting as a technical mentor for these projects. Please contact UCL IXN via email.

The UCL IXN programme has been a fundamental part of transforming how we engage with universities. It provides a structured framework that supports both simple and effective collaborations with faculty to generate spectacular outcomes. Most particularly, the UCL IXN program provides the means to spark the creation of hugely inventive technology proofs of concept that inspire industry to innovate. At the same time, students are supported in developing cutting edge technology skills in an industry environment, creating the technology leaders of tomorrow.
John McNamara, IBM Master Inventor and UK University Programs Lead 

UCL IXN students