For those of you who don’t know, I work in a research & development lab, developing software that tries to stem the tide of information overflow by reasoning about the context of each user’s interactions. In the past few months, we’ve had a bit of an influx of software engineers in our building – not only within my own team, but also in other teams working on everything from biomedical imaging to multi-agent systems for energy management.
Given a large and growing body of software engineers with varied skills and experience, I’m attempting to kick-off (well, actually re-kindle) a discussion forum for exchanging software engineering knowledge, skills and advice. We had our first informal discussion after work tonight and lobbed around a few ideas about how to best make use of such a forum.
One recurring suggestion was for people to give a presentation or lead a discussion about particular challenges faced in their current projects, or to talk about an interesting technology/methodology/idea that has caught their eye. Another semi-serious idea was for people to work together on building a game engine. Given that we could bring the skills of a diverse group of people to bear on a single, focussed activity, it’s actually an interesting suggestion. Otherwise, we talked about wikis and mailing lists and other mediums for sharing questions, answers and ideas.
Our first activity will be a presentation from our recent hire about his experience maintaining and enhancing Java’s Abstract Window Toolkit package within Sun for 6 years. We’re aiming to have a presentation from someone in the building every couple of weeks. The other possibility I’m considering is trying to invite external people to come and talk about their work. I’m wary of trying to run another seminar series, however, given that I already run the HAIL Series which takes quite a lot of my time.
I’m curious though, what ideas would you try to make the most of having a bunch of very smart software engineers working in your building?