Durham University: Computer Science students help UK’s vaccination rollout

World-class learning, on-the-job experience

It’s really important to us that our students get as much experience as possible of the world of work while they’re with us. We know it really helps their employment prospects on graduating.

So each year our Computer Science undergraduates get the opportunity to work on a real-life computing challenge. They work with real clients and develop real solutions, learning how to work together in teams and to deadlines as they go.

Supporting the NHS to save lives

This year, teams worked with the NHS Digital to enhance how different NHS computer programmes interact, or ‘talk’ to each other. This included developing the Patient Demographic Service (PDS) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) Application Programming Interface (API), an integral part of the NHS COVID Vaccine Booking system.

Steve Walton, from the NHS team that the students worked with, said the students could genuinely say they played a part in the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another NHS colleague said the students had been ‘incredible’.

‘Real insight, invaluable experience’

Freddie Miller, one of the students involved, said the project had given him a real insight into how software engineering works and invaluable experience of completing a project to deadline and to match the specifications provided by a client.

Another, Henrietta Lo, said the project had been a great experience.

The project was part of a second year undergraduate software engineering module. Next year, we hope students will be working with clients including IBM, Microsoft and again with the NHS.

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