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Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards Winner Revealed

Ross Kelly


Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards

A promising student from the University of Dundee has scooped the top prize at this year’s Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards for his project that combines AI and Machine Learning to improve early dementia diagnosis. 

More than 500 guests from across Scotland’s digital technology sector were in attendance at the 2018 ScotSoft dinner, as Can Gafuroglu won first prize for an innovative project that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to support early dementia diagnosis.

The Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards, now in their 29th year, recognise some of the best undergraduate software projects in Scotland and are drawn from a broad range of students studying computing science and software engineering.

Each university submits the best final year undergraduate software engineering project from among its students. The Awards are organised by ScotlandIS, the trade body for the digital technologies industry.

Awarding Innovation

Gafuroglu’s research, titled ‘Joint prediction and Classification of Brain Image Evolution Trajectories from Baseline with Application to Early Dementia Diagnosis’ was dubbed “exceptional” by the judges.

As the overall winner of the award, Gafuroglu received a cheque for £2,500 from Sopra Steria and a trophy presented by ScotlandIS.

Originally from Turkey, Gafuroglu studied at the University of St Andrews before embarking on a Computer Science degree at the University of Dundee.

There have been a number of research studies into the onset of dementia. However, they are often dependent on multiple data points that are difficult to collect – as they involve checking the patient over a period of time to analyse the subtle brain changes that occur as time progresses.

Health professionals have to balance the time delays involved in collecting this greater level of data with the need for early diagnosis and treatment.

Gafuroglu’s project uses machine learning to “extrapolate and enhance” more limited observations. His project brings together a range of existing datasets both longitudinal and cross-sectional to enhance the ‘learning’ from individual observations.

The program learns how to predict the developmental trajectory of a brain from a single acquisition timepoint, classifying the predicted trajectory as either ‘healthy’ or ‘demented’.


Runners-up at the awards were all complimented on the innovative nature of their projects. Second place was won by Radostin Stoyanov, from the University of Aberdeen, for his work on the live migration of Linux containers.

University of Edinburgh student, Nikita Samarin, took third place with a groundbreaking project that investigates the use of an ECG biometric for personal authentication.

Additionally, the Leidos Software Engineering Project Award went to Jonathon Robson from the University of Abertay for developing a visibility buffer rendering system for use in the games sector – with a particular focus on virtual reality headsets.

The judges said they were impressed by the quality of Robson’s project and its adherence to best practice software engineering principles. He received a cheque for £1,500 donated by Leidos and the trophy was given to his university.

A Wealth of Talent

Polly Purvis, chief executive of ScotlandIS said the awards and e-Placement programmes provide a valuable opportunity to highlight Scotland’s young tech talent.

“It’s exciting to see the wealth of talent coming through our universities and colleges,” she said. “The Young Software Engineer of the Year and e-Placement Scotland awards provide a great opportunity to showcase these young people, and the quality of the work they do.”

Purvis added: “I am always impressed by the projects the YSE students have done – they cover so many fields, providing innovative new ideas for the future and highlighting the power of computer science.”

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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