A Lincoln University IT graduate has completed an internship at a plant breeding and research company where he developed an app that is making life much easier for staff who carry out field work.
Agriseeds science manager Colin Eady says Tao Zhou’s creation, which helps with data capture during field trials, has proven invaluable.
“The modular system Tao developed simplifies data capture process, saves time and reduces errors,” says Mr Eady.
Mr Zhou took on the internship as part of his Graduate Diploma of Software and IT and says he came up with the idea for the app after talking to Agriseeds staff and monitoring their workflow.
“Seed data from the field used to be collected using paper and pen and keyed into a spreadsheet back at the office. After having some discussions with staff, we thought we would make things easier by developing an app,” he says.
“The system is based on Microsoft Excel and runs on a tablet. It works by collecting data via a friendly, front-end interface, then the data is automatically transferred to Excel in standard format with error checking and validation. This makes it handy for preventing mistakes.”
Mr Eady says the internship finished in November, but Mr Zhou continued to work at Agriseeds for a further three months to help troubleshoot any problems with the app.
“During this time, he established efficient electronic capture and transfer of data between the Agriseeds Quality Assurance and Breeding team. He also helped improve a previous Lincoln University/Agriseeds collaboration concerning seed image analysis.”
Before he attended Lincoln, Mr Zhou received a Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Science and Technology from Shandong University in Jinan, China, then worked in the software development and IT service industry for two years.
“I worked as an engineer in the automation industry in China, designing, developing and testing software for an embedded system used in power supply devices,” he says.
“After that, I went to a telecom company which provides IT and ICT services to clients. My job there included providing IT system consultancy and support, and working in database system administration.”
When he learnt about Lincoln University’s graduate diploma, he felt it would give him a good opportunity to deepen his knowledge.
“I’d like to continue advancing my career as an engineer in the IT industry. The knowledge and techniques I’ve learned from the Lincoln course have given me a lot of ideas, as well as a new vision,” he says.
“I also learned a lot about VBA and database techniques. Working with people from different backgrounds and working as a team to come with ideas, then make them real, was also very beneficial.”
Lincoln University’s Graduate Diploma in Software and Information Technology can help those who want to transition into an IT career or extend their skills, says Department of Informatics and Enabling Technologies Head Dr Stuart Charters.
“The skills learnt during the programme are applied to real-world settings.”