The Computing History of Newcastle University - Volunteers Needed

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The History of Computing Museum at Newcastle University is one of the largest university-owned collections of its kind in the UK. Beginning as a labour of love for the late Roger Broughton during the 1990s, it chronicles the history of computing science in the north-east from the birth of the Computing Laboratory to the departure from Claremont Tower only last year.

Stewardship of the collection is managed through a committee formed of academics, students, and members of IT Services/NUIT both retired and current. The purpose of the collection is three-fold:

- To curate and preserve artefacts relating to the contributions of Newcastle University to the field of Computing Science.

- To manage displays of these artefacts, intended to appeal to both the general public and members of the university.

- To encourage the exploration of Computing Science by people both young and old.

To that end, the Museum has raised funding for projects ranging from the creation of permanent displays in the Urban Sciences Building, to the creation of a procedurally generated virtual reality museum to display elements of the collection which cannot be permanently available to the public. The work undertaken so far has been well-received by both students and visitors alike, but there is still a great deal of work left to do.

We need help in a great many areas, and we're hoping you'll be inspired to work with us. We need volunteers willing to assist with everything from the cataloguing of the collection (a task which is still far from complete, given how extensive the collection itself actually is) to explaining displays of the collection to visitors.

Are you interested in uncovering long-forgotten documents that chart how the School of Computing came into being? Or working with us as we prepare a display of the first true university mainframe in Europe? Do you have an interest in Unity or web-development? Or would you like the chance to encourage future generations to explore computer technology, by showing them how far we've come in so short a time?

If so, then we'd love to have you aboard. Training will be provided by members of the committee in all areas you might be interested in pursuing. You will gain valuable, transferrable skills, ranging from experience giving presentations to large groups, to the management of large databases of assets - and, of course, a great deal of teamwork.

If you're interested in computer hardware, you'll have the opportunity to work with the latest VR platforms as we expand the reach of our virtual museum beyond open days. You'll gain knowledge of areas of computing which are all but forgotten - but which form the foundations of the myriad devices we use in our day to day lives.

Do please contact Phil at volunteercoordinator.union@newcastle.ac.uk if you would like to get involved with the project. Again, whatever your interests, the History of Computing Museum's mission is so broad in scope that there'll be a rewarding experience here for you, and a contribution you can make that will leave a permanent and positive mark on Newcastle University.

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