Sander van den Oever

Sander van den Oever
Computer Science student

Track: Software Technology
Interests: Software (Web) Engineering
Occupation: PHP Developer

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Thesis stuff: bunq

Hi everyone!

Last quarter I’ve been working a lot on some of my courses and next to that I invested a lot of time orientating for a thesis company/subject. I’ve contacted several companies to check out the possibilities. Examples are Pay.nl and bunq. Both are online based companies, the first one is an online payment provider (links web shops to banks) and the latter one is literally an online bank. I have experienced that it is really important to work on your network while studying. For instance, I knew someone in Pay.nl who could help me find the right people and who knew what my capabilities were. For bunq the same applies; Ali Niknam visited the Software Architecture course (guest lecture) and afterwards you could talk to him and ask him some questions. And here I am, after a few talks at bunq’s headquarters (in Amsterdam) I’ll be doing my thesis at bunq. The subject is yet to be determined as I will start working on my thesis in November (I want to finish all my courses first). Finding a supervisor for your thesis is also really easy. Most teachers/professors have an open-door policy. Whenever they are there (and not in a meeting) you can just knock on their door and have a chat. Before, I wanted to do my thesis in the Programming Languages (PL) group, but I discovered that I liked the Software Engineering Research Group (SERG) even more. I’ve been talking a lot to Alberto Bacchelli and Andy Zaidman. They helped me a lot while finding a company / thesis; providing examples theses, giving advise, etc. If I were to give advise to anyone that is orientating for his/her thesis it would be to talk, soon. Start talking to your teachers, find out about their interests and research and see what you like most. Most teachers have huge networks, I know a friend of mine who’s now in Silicon Valley simply by talking to the right professor (who happened to know a nice project there). I started orientating early on, I’d advise the same to others, it’ll give you enough time to think about what you really want.

bunq headquarters

bunq headquarters

Anyway, back to the courses.  I finished the Information Retrieval course. It’s a tough one, but really interesting. We had to implement a system that was able to collect different kinds of information about hospitals (from different sources). So we would collect the locational data, specialists working in the hospital (by analysing their website), clinical trials at the hospital (from other databases) and so on. In the end we built a tool that allows you to search a nearby hospital that has expertise in a certain field (based on the specialists and trials in that specific hospital). Next to the group work we had to write a literature survey. Overall a lot of work, but I am pleased with the project outcome and I hope to have passed the survey as well.

For Intelligent User Experience Engineering we have actually started implementing the Nao robot. Next week we will be conducting experiments with real children to see whether our robot behaviour has the expected outcome. Programming the Nao is quite simple actually, you connect modules using lines and these modules will be played in chronological order. Then you can add some conditionals (speech recognition, object recognition, etc.) and speaking abilities. It did not take us too much time to build the first prototype.

Nao programming

Nao programming in Choregraphe

I have one new course in the last quarter of this year: Web Data Management. Here we learn all kinds of stuff about databases, distributing them, etc. Our project is a hands-on assignment on databases. We get a Postgres database and we have to convert it into (in our case) a similar CouchDB database and a Neo4J database. The data is from IMDB, we need to built a query feature around these different database backends. Really interesting, we will be using Python (Flask) and some other libraries to build something nice. I’ll update on this next time!

See ya!

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