Innovation Hackathon in Lancaster University

As an MSc student in Information Technology, Management and Organisational Change (ITMOC), I got to explore several modules which related to technology and business. I also have the opportunity to choose optional modules based on my interest. For me personally, I am really interested in online marketing and innovation in IT to create better solution in business, and the module which answered my question for this is E-Marketing module.

Though this module is optional for ITMOC student, it is a mandatory module for MSc E-Business and Innovation student. Some Marketing Analytics students also took this class as an optional module, thus it is an amazing opportunity for me to know various insights about E-Marketing from students from different background. One of the most interesting parts about the class was the opportunity for students to join Innovation Hackathon, an intensive 2-day program where we had to solve a real-life business case with the opportunity to consult with and present to experts in the industry! The hackathon was held in March, I know it is a bit late for me to share the story here. Yet, I believe that the experience was really worth it and I might say that I learned a lot during the program. Hackathon itself is a word created from hack and marathon, an event where people work together and use technology to transform ideas into reality. We tried to solve the problem with the use of technology and the teams consisted of students from various background (IT, business, marketing, etc.).

The theme of the hackathon was Smart Park, where we had to create an IoT solution for the Lake District National Park. IoT stands for Internet of Things, a technology which optimises connected devices with the use of sensors to collect and exchange data. One of example of IoT is Smart Cities with connected traffic signals that monitor utility use or smart bins that signal when they need to be emptied. Smartwatches or fitness bands to track steps or heartbeat while on a run for healthcare needs are also part of IoT technology.

During the hackathon, we had to propose the solution on how to make Lake District National Park… a Smart Park. Things that we need to remember was to create a simple, feasible and profitable solution while at the same time can give business values in a long run. All teams can explore the opportunity to solve the problem from various point-of-view. During the program, experts from IBM, Huawei and from Lake District will provide us with input throughout our brainstorming session. I might say that the program was superrrr intensive and stressful! We had to work with people from various background, listened to everyone’s opinion and we also need to satisfy business needs from the stakeholders in only 2 days!

At the end of the 2-days session, all 6 teams which participated in the hackathon needs to present the solution in front of the stakeholders. My team offered a solution to prevent and monitor erosion in Lake District National Park, we named it Smart Path.  This solution came up after we realised that Lake District needs to spent a lot of budget to maintain eroded path and it also can lead to damage and habitat loss. We offered a solution of IoT implementation to monitor and detect activities on the footpath and analytics will provide data about preventative steps to maintain footpath/recommendation on maintenance. After the presentation, we got some inputs from the experts and we believe it was really helpful.

To close the hackathon, the experts chose the winner. My team did not win the competition but the most important thing is that we learned a lot and got the opportunity to work in a challenging case 🙂 The team who won offered Smart Bicycle Path, a B2B solution which track bicycle movements around the park and then analyse the data to be sold to another business (i.e restaurants, insurance, etc.). On the other hand, the data also can be used by Lake District National Park to maintain and improve customers experience in the park.

Congrats for the winner!

The 2-days session was full of pressure and stress, but with the help from teammate and the experts we can delivered the result on time. Special thanks for Professor Juliana Sutanto (E-Marketing Course Convenor and MSc E-Business and Innovation) and Professor Edward Truch for the support. And of course thank you Lancaster University for the opportunity!

All Participants for Smart Park Hackathon

 

 

 

 

End of Lent Term and Hey! It’s My First Spring!

As a postgraduate student, I really can’t describe how fast the time went by. It feels like yesterday I was excitingly starting my first day of the Masters orientation, but now 6 months has passed and it’s already the end of Lent term. During 6 months of study, I might say that I have learned a lot from the classes that I took. As I have a background in Information Technology and Management, I took the MSc in Information Technology, Management and Organisational Change (ITMOC) at the Organisation, Work and Technology Department.

During my studies, I have learned many things including how IT can help organisations/businesses to reach their optimum competitive advantages and current trends in technology development. One of the most interesting courses that I took is IT and Digital Strategy where I learned about how IT can also bring harm to people if it is not being used properly: this effect is called the dark side of IT. One of the dark sides of IT is the stress which people can get if they get too much information from overflowing information from the internet or what we call technostress. Sometimes we feel that we can’t live without IT and work during the weekend or our leisure time! I can relate to this course a lot because somehow I feel that “yeahhhh, that’s totally happened to me all this time!” 😀 This course made me realise that we still have to use technology wisely even though it helps our life significantly.

After we ended the Lent Term, I believe that many of you will have numerous deadlines and exams after the Easter break. Me as well! It must be super stressful for many of us. To relieve this stress, I recommend that you look around our beautiful campus and see that spring has finally sprung!

As a student who comes from a tropical country with only 2 seasons (rainy season and not-so-rainy season :p), it’s really exciting for me to see how the flowers started to bloom beautifully after a long winter. I took many pictures because it’s also my first time to see cherry blossoms! Around Lancaster, you might see some cherry blossom trees and for me this kind of healed my stress.

During the spring, another difference that I feel is in terms of clothes because finally I can get rid of the fluffy and thick winter coats! The weather is also getting warmer as the sun shines more often, yet we also have to be ready for sudden rain because hey! It’s Lancaster 😀 Make sure to always check the weather forecast app on your phone to prepare for what clothes are suitable that day.

If you have some spare time, you might also try to travel somewhere outside Lancaster to refresh yourself after finishing the term and getting ready for assignments and exams. As for me, I write this post while I am on holiday in Greece. After I get back to the UK, I’ll be ready for all the deadlines! ;D

Don’t forget to relax and, to my fellow Postgraduate students, get ready for your dissertation. This too shall pass! 🙂 Stay healthy and happy during the break!

Things To Do in Lancaster

Have you ever felt tired of all routines, assignments, never ending classes or group work? You feel like you need fresh air, yet you’re too lazy to go outside the city or do not want to spend too much money going out? Then… why don’t you explore our own city, Lancaster! Some of you might not realise that there are so many beautiful places that you can visit only 15 minutes from campus in 1 day!

Before you visit places around Lancaster, it might be good for you to know few facts about Lancaster. Some of you might probably know that Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, England surrounding the River Lune. Lancaster, is a historic city in England with numerous buildings in Georgian architecture. You might realise when you’re going to the city center that there are many old buildings that you’ll never get tired of seeing!

Now, I will try to give you some ideas on what to do in Lancaster over the weekend. All you need to do is just to take a bus from campus and you’re good to go! 🙂

Lune Millennium Bridge

The first place that I would recommend is Lune Millennium Bridge. It is located near the Bus Station right behind Sainsbury’s. It spans the River Lune, Lancaster. The history of this bridge is that it was built to commemorate the millennium of 2000. It forms a “Y” shape and it is suitable for cyclists and pedestrians. Be ready for a surprise from this bridge as sometimes it will shake a bit when you’re walking on it 😀

Lancaster Castle

After you spend some time on Lune Millennium Bridge, you can take a walk to a hill right next to the bridge. 5-minutes-walk will bring you to one of the icons of our city, Lancaster Castle. You can see the stunning views of Lancaster from above. This castle may have been founded around the 11th century and it used to be a prison! Owned by The Duchy of Lancaster (Her Majesty the Queen is the Duke of Lancaster), the castle has witnessed significant historical and political impact in the thousand years of its existence. Until 2001 it was still functioning as prison, but now it is open for public and tourist activity. If you want to learn more about its history, you can join the guided tour that is available inside the castle. You can also enjoy a cup of tea in the café inside the castle.

Lancaster Canal

Another attraction that you can visit in Lancaster is the peaceful Lancaster Canal. You can walk 10 minutes from Lancaster Castle to this place. You can also grab your lunch in at the White Cross Restaurant by the river. You can enjoy a nice lunch with river and bridge view as well as seeing some cute ducks along the river 🙂

Ashton Memorial Park

This place might be my favorite place in Lancaster! It is reaaaalllllyyyyyyyy beautiful especially on a sunny day. You can take a walk here but it’s quite a distance from the canal or you can just take a bus whereas you still need to climb a bit to reach this place. Many people called Ashton Memorial Park “England’s grandest folly” and the “Taj Mahal of the North” because this iconic building was commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife.

You will first be welcomed by Williamson Park, a pretty park with some small ponds and various kind of plants. After that, you will get this view.

When you are walking up to the building, you can see the city of Lancaster from above. It is breathtaking! This spot is also the highest point in Lancaster where you can see the whole city. There is a pretty dome that is also open to the public. Please note that the interior will be on renovation from November 21 2016 to April 2017 so you might not be able to go inside. But do not worry because the outdoor view of Ashton Memorial is already amazing!

So yeah, there are many things that we can do in Lancaster right? An important thing that you should note before going around the city is: CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST! It won’t be as fun if the rain is pouring hard. In my case, I tend to go out when the sun is up with a clear and bright sky.

Now… Are you ready to go? 🙂

P.S photos are from writer’s personal collection

A Weekend in Sheffield

At the beginning of the term, assignments that I (and we?) have might not be as much as when the end of the term is coming. For me, when I have some spare time to travel during the weekend to refresh my mind, I sometimes  travel to cities around Lancaster. Last week (1st week of February), I went to Sheffield! This city can be reached in 2 hours by train and you only need to pay around 20 pounds for return tickets if you buy it in advance. You need to change in Manchester as there is no direct train from Lancaster to Sheffield.

I have been wanting to visit this city since last term and my goal is to visit 2 places: Bamford Edge and Edensor! They are sooo beautiful and I didn’t regret my decision to visit them during my weekend.

Saturday – 4 February 2017

I arrived in Sheffield on Friday night and I started my trip on Saturday around 10 am because I have to wait for the bus which directly goes to Bamford Edge. I took Bus No. 273 from University of Sheffield Bus Stop and I alighted at Lydgate Lane. The journey took around 40 minutes and you can also take bus No. 272, 274 and 275. After I arrived, I followed the maps which directed me to Bamford Edge.

The sky was soooo bright and the weather was perfect. From the bus stop to the hill, I need 60 minutes to walk.  After that I have to walk to reach the Edge for another 30 minutes. It was quite tiring! I got exhausted but it was all gone when I see this magnificent view!

It was soooooo beautiful that I feel like crying! It was colorful eventhough it was windy up there. I can’t stop taking pictures from one side to another. I spent around 1.5 hour there and finished my trip with a delish sandwich at the restaurant near the bus stop.

Please note that you should be really aware of bus schedule as they don’t come that often 🙂

Sunday – 5 February 2017

I started my journey early in the morning this day. I went from my friend’s house at 8 am and took bus No. 251 to Edensor for about 1 hour. Some of you might wonder, what is Edensor?

Actually, Edensor is a small village from my favorite book. It is a book from an Indonesian writer, Andrea Hirata, titled “Edensor”. The book taught me about the meaning of family, friendship and dream.  One of my favorite part of the book is: “I wanted to go to faraway places and meet with endless varieties of foreign languages and peoples. I wished to rove, finding my direction through reading the stars of constellations. I wanted to cross fields and deserts, to be burned by the sun until I blistered, to be shook by the assaulting wind, and shrink from being gripped by cold. I wanted a life that was thrilling, filled with conquest. I wanted to live! To feel the essence of being!”. I can say that Edensor from Andrea Hirata is one of the reason why I chose to study in UK, to experience the world and be a better person.

In his book, Andrea Hirate described Edensor beautifully. It is a quite, peaceful and breathtaking small village… And I can be more agree to this. Edensor is a very small village with only 1 church and some little houses, yet you will find some peacefulness here as everyone is super friendly and always greet and smile to each other. After spent around 1.5 hours walking around the village (and took many pictures of course :p), I visited Edensor Tea Cottage with warm and homey feels.

For me, Edensor has special meaning but for those of you who haven’t read the book; I would still recommend Edensor for you! It is a beautiful village with beautiful and you won’t regret your decision to visit this tiny village.

I spent 2 amazing days in Sheffield. It is a very nice city and bigger than Lancaster with lots of food options. Living cost is cheaper as accommodation, food and transportation costs are slightly cheaper than here in Lancaster. I highly recommend Sheffield for those who want to experience a bit of city and countryside experience at the same time.

May be I’ll be back there again, someday! 🙂

Plan Your Trip for School Break, Now!

During a long campus break, many of us have already planned something to do. Some of us planned to go home, while others decided to stay in Lancaster to do all assignments and prepare for exams. For international students, especially for those who have 15+ hour flights to go home, going back home might not be the first priority. Thinking about how exhausting a long flight would be, jet lag and so on and so forth is just…. (SIGH) But do not worry, you are not alone because now we are in the UK and there are so many things to do around here! 🙂

For an international student like me whom spent 24 years of my life in my country, Indonesia, going abroad to study is a very exciting experience since I get to see many new places that I have never visited before. Thanks to the education system in UK which gives opportunity for us to have a break between the terms, we can use this opportunity to explore the world! From my country, Indonesia, to travel from there to let’s say… Amsterdam, I need at least 700-1000 pounds just for the airplane ticket. But here from UK, I only need to pay merely 40 pounds for a return tickets 😀 As I will only spend 1 year for my Master degree here in UK, I will definitely make the most of my time by travelling around!

During my winter break, I spent half of it to travel around UK and Europe. I went to some cities in UK such as London, Liverpool, Oxford and Manchester. After that I traveled to 6 countries in Europe (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and The Netherlands). And it’s been exciting! If any of you are planning to take some trip during Easter break, maybe you can check out some tips and tricks from my previous trips 🙂

 

For those of you who plan to travel during Easter break and still have no idea how to start, you may check some tips and tricks here:

Plan Your Trip Early

If you’re going to go on Easter break, plan it now! Think about the countries that you want to visit, budget that you have, places that you want to see, etc. By planning early, there’s a high possibility to get cheaper ticket. Once, I got a one-way flight ticket to Eindhoven as cheap as 11 pounds! You will also have the opportunity to get cheaper accommodation, more time to plan when to apply for visa (if you need one) and more time to save money 😉 Also make sure that you’re visiting countries by order of which country is the closest to another, this will help you to save cost because closer distance means cheaper ticket 🙂

Book Your Ticket, Now!

Before you book your ticket, make sure that you have checked all assignments and exams deadline so you won’t miss anything. As student with limited budget, I always try to find as cheap ticket as possible. I tend to check to website like skyscanner.com or kayak.com to compare airplane tickets price. Don’t hesitate for too long because if you check the tickets several times without buying it, then the price will definitely increase! (that’s how it works). If you’re going on more than 1 country, don’t forget to book your bus/train ticket as well to get even cheaper price.

Hmmmm… How About Staying in Hostel?

If we are going on holiday with family, it is most likely that we will stay in the hotel. But what if you’re going all by yourself or just with your friend? Hostel might be a good deal for you! For me, staying in the hostel means 2 things: I get to know new people and I can save more budget. Most of the people staying in hostel are young people, so they are open-minded and fun to talk to. When I was in Budapest, I stayed in a nice hostel for only 6 pounds/night, got to know new friends from another country and even went to some places with them. But don’t forget to always be safe and make sure that you place your valuable belongings in the safe place.

Make Your Itinerary

When you are settled with your tickets and accommodation, it is time for you to make a detailed itinerary about places that you’re going to visit each day, how long you’re going to stay there, etc. For me personally, I don’t always make this kind of plan and simply just browse on internet “What to do in xxx” or “Best view in xxx”. This is all up to you! If you’re more a person with high attention-to-details, making a detailed itinerary might be a safe bet! 🙂

Enjoy Your Trip!

When the day of your trip comes, don’t forget to enjoy it! Take many pictures but make sure you enjoy the moment and learn something.

Traveling for me is one way to refresh my mind and open my eyes of another culture. From traveling, I get to see many places, taste new foods that I have never tried before, meet many new people, listen and learn new languages and many more! I believe that traveling will bring us nothing but fruitful experience and of course after that we will be ready to do all the assignments and prepare for exams! 😀 So now, plan your trip!

Cultural Food Night, What’s There Other Than Food?

“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”

– Wendell Berry

Hi! My name is Nila Sukmawati, and I am a postgraduate student at LUMS, studying MSc Information Technology, Management and Organisational change (ITMOC). As an International student who is going abroad for the first time to study, everything about Lancaster, UK and any places that I have visited are all exciting for me. I had so many firsts during my 4 months experience of living abroad. First long-haul flight (yeah, I took 18 hours flight from Indonesia to Manchester, and another 1.5 train ride to Lancaster), first time being away from home for such a long time, first time visiting Europe and my most fascinating “first” would be my first time of having 21 classmates from 15 different Nationalities!

As I have classmates who is coming from different culture and background, it is really interesting to see how we speak in different English accent, how we talk and share to each other about how we missed home or about how much we are craving for foods from our hometown. Fun fact about my class is that we regularly held social events so that we get to know each other better and of course to get away for a while from tons of reading lists and assignments 😀 . One of the most exciting and unforgettable event for me (and maybe for the rest of the class) would be…. CULTURAL FOOD NIGHT!

Can you imagine when 22 people from 15 Nationalities had to bring foods from their country to be shared together? Food overload! 😀 I tried various kind of foods that I have never tasted or seen before. Blinis from Russia, Special pancake from The Netherlands, beef meatball and potato salad from Germany, egg frittata from Italy… and these were all yummy. Our friend from Taiwan also made delicious sushi and I made corn fritter, Indonesia special noodle and… fire noodles from Korea (it is not from Indonesia, but it is still from Asia though hehe). I was thinking about cooking fire noodles because I know that my classmates from Western countries might not be able to handle its spiciness. It is super spicy that your whole mouth would feel like it is burning. So, I want to challenge them!

Without any bias, I might say that this fire noodle was the “most wanted” food during our food night. Some of us can handle it, some can’t handle it and some did not have any courage to try it. But at least, I was really happy to get to introduce this food to my lovely classmates.

After filling in our tummy with various kind of foods, we started to play games and shared the story about our life. My friend from Russia brought a special drink from his country and introducing the way to drink with “Russian Style”. We also played “Guess the Movie” game together where someone had to describe a movie title with body gestures or drawing some pictures and the rest of us will guess the movie title. We can’t stop laughing and we felt happy together even though we are all far far away from our home.

Throughout this event, I really feel like I can get closer to my classmates. Sometimes, we are too busy working on our assignments or doing something else outside class that we forgot to socialise with people whom we met every day in class. For me, homesick attack is coming to me quite often and I can’t help myself to not complain about life. But on event like this where you can play, share and listen to the stories from your classmates, you will somehow feel like “Hey, chill! You are not alone here. You are here to discover yourselves and get to know others better. Be strong and you will be a better YOU!”.

I highly recommend this cultural food night event to be held in another class in Lancaster University. Not only we get the experience of tasting the whole new savory from another part of the world, but we would also be able to get to know about interesting culture and stories about another country. Additionally, this kind of event makes us realise that we are struggling here in Lancaster together and you don’t have to feel alone, because you are not! 🙂