UCL IXN and NTT DATA: "Best of its kind programme" that benefits both students and industry
The multinational IT and business services company explain the many reasons why they support students' work experience through the UCL Industry Exchange Network (UCL IXN)
NTT DATA is part of the Japanese NTT group, ranked the world's 55th largest company in the Global Fortune 500. There are many collaborative research projects and partnerships between UCL and Japanese companies. These relationships build upon the historically strong ties between UCL forged 150 years ago when the founders of modern Japan attended UCL.
As a public company, NTT has a powerful social mission, namely to create a harmonious and affluent society through the intelligent use of technologies. So, NTT DATA's focus on applied R&D chimes with UCL's commitment to innovation. It is also aligned with UCL IXN, which readies UCL Computer Science students for the job market while assisting many NHS and charity projects.
UCL IXN enables students to work on actual problems experienced by industry. With NTT DATA, the solutions frequently involve artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and immersive technologies, including augmented reality (AR). Many of these focus on IXN for the NHS, working closely alongside Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
Several projects have evolved over successive UCL IXN cycles; student teams can follow up on the work of previous cohorts. For example, a Sota robot was configured as an interactive storyteller. This project, which aims to keep children engaged and help them learn new words, was started by undergraduates and continued by a master's student. A virtual assistant that interacts with IoT devices was also developed over consecutive years. Projects have a variety of applications. One proof of concept uses NTT DATA's 'hitoe' smart t-shirt system as a wireless sensor suit for GOSH's Respiratory Sleep Clinic. Another is a multiplayer AR game enabling hospitalised children to have fun and socialise. Virtuoso is an indoor navigation app that uses computer vision and AR to guide the user.
UCL master's students have also worked on a project for NTT DATA's blockchain banking practice. The project investigated how blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) could be used to improve the credit scoring model. The students’ in-depth quantitative research helped identify strategic investment areas and future trends.
NTT DATA find the UCL students intellectually curious and keen. They also welcome the abundance of fresh ideas the students bring. This out-of-the-box thinking has enriched the company’s understanding of future services they could offer to clients.
The IXN programme has also provided NTT DATA with connections to other organisations and new insights into markets. Thanks to the programme, the company has explored emerging needs and requirements in the healthcare space. A NTT DATA team collaborates extensively with GOSH DRIVE, Great Ormond Street Hospital's Digital Research, Informatics and Virtual Environments Unit, alongside other industry partners.
NTT DATA want to help students on their career path. But the programme also functions as a recruitment tool and allows them to build their employer brand on campus. The advantages don't stop there, however. UCL IXN enables NTT DATA's staff to advance their professional development, and they find mentoring the students hugely enriching.
We really love working with the UCL IXN programme because it's the best of its kind. It is unique in the academic-industrial outreach space. It allows us to work practically with students without worrying about intellectual property rights and it's structured in a really easy to use way. It's helped us generate ideas for projects that we are taking forward. UCL IXN and Dr Dean Mohamedally, Dr Graham Roberts and UCL Computer Science staff have also opened doors for us as a business. It was because of the programme that we started working with Great Ormond Street Hospital and became a founding strategic technology partner in the GOSH DRIVE lab.
Tom Winstanley CTO & Head of New Ventures at NTT DATA UK
To find out more about becoming a UCL IXN partner, contact UCL Computer Science's Strategic Alliances Team