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Postcards from Sweden: Global Computing Project

September 9, 2011

Computer Science & Software Engineering Department Begins Eighth Year of Collaboration with Sweden's Uppsala University. Photos on Facebook.

Day 8: Friday, September 16, 2011

The students had a required presentation to the client about how they understood the project and how they were going to approach it.  The finishing touches were put on the presentation this morning and a rehearsal was held during the noon hour. The client and two of his colleagues listened intently during the presentation, and held a good dialogue with the students and faculty members.  Afterwards, the students broke into their respective teams to begin working out strategies for their parts of the project.

  Working Things Out: Students collaborate on approaches to solve problems in the opening stages of this year's international project.

In the evening, the Rose-Hulman team hosted a gala dinner for the Uppsala faculty members and three students that hosted Rose-Hulman students during the week - thanking them for their hospitality.  The restaurant, located at the base of Uppsala Cathedral, served upscale Swedish food and has an interesting history.  Most of the Rose-Hulman students tried reindeer for the first time.  The restaurant is located on premises that date to 1330, and is thus the most ancient restaurant in Sweden, although the restaurant was founded in 1930.  There are several rooms used for the restaurant.  One is the "Kurran," which was used to hold drunk university students while they sobered up in the 18th century.  This is the room the group enjoyed dinner during this evening.

The team flies back to Indiana tomorrow.  It will be a very long day -- approximately 26 hours from the time we leave our hotel/apartment to the time we arrive on campus.  The students will then work long distance (via internet tools) to collaborate before some students return to Uppsala in December to take part in the final presentation to the client.

Day 7, Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today was a long work day. Students met to discuss the project and the approaches they were going to take to solve it. After several hours of discussion, four teams were formed to investigate various aspects of the problem.

After dinner, many of the students gathered at Fyrishov, an indoor water park, to relax in the swimming pools, hot tubs, and sauna. It was a great way to unwind from the long day of work.

Tomorrow the students will make a presentation to the client about how they will approach the project and get the client's feedback.

View today's photos on Facebook.

Day 6, Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Visiting History: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students visited the 17th century warship Vasa, known for how fast it sank on its maiden voyage due to poor engineering design.  

This was our cultural sightseeing day in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.  Stockholm, which dates its history to 1250, is composed of 14 islands that form part of the Stockholm Archipelago.  It lies where the Baltic Sea meets Lake Mälaren.  After a 40-minute train ride from Uppsala, the Rose-Hulman group walked through one of Stockholm's main shopping areas and past the Opera House to get to the dock for a two-hour "Under the Bridges of Stockholm" boat tour.  The tour passed through two locks connecting the two bodies of water and under 15 bridges.  It was a great way to see the city and learn something about this beautiful Scandinavian capital.

No visit to Stockholm is complete without visiting the Vasa Museum, home of a 17th century Swedish warship that sank in Stockholm's harbor on its maiden voyage in 1628 due to poor engineering design.  The ship was raised in 1961, and after many years of preservation efforts (which continue to this day) the ship is on display to the public in this museum especially designed for it.  The ship is very well preserved and 95 percent of the ship is original material.

Later in the afternoon, the group walked around Gama Stan, Stockholm's old town.  The students did some souvenir shopping.  Located at the edge of Gamla Stan is the Royal Palace, home of the business offices for the King of Sweden.  There are several guards stationed around the palace and the group got to watch the changing of the guard at one of the stations.  We ended the day with dinner in Gamla Stan before taking the train back to Uppsala.

Day 5, Tuesday, September 13, 2011

  Making Presentation: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students discussed the challenges faced in developing software for the American health-care industry.

Three student groups made presentations to the rest of the class.  First, a group of Swedish students informed the rest of us about the Swedish healthcare system.  Next, Rose-Hulman students informed the rest of the class about the challenges in developing software for the health-care industry.  Finally, Swedish students discussed some of the collaboration tools available for everyone to use.

In the afternoon, the class started discussing the project in earnest.  After a brainstorming session with faculty members about what the project should entail, the students went off on their own to discuss what they wanted the project to cover.  The students' initial thoughts will be shared with the client tomorrow.  Then, feedback from the client will be discussed by the entire group on Thursday.

The evening was spent having dinner at one of the student nations.  The dinner was jointly hosted by the Department of Information Technology at Uppsala University and Rose-Hulman's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Tomorrow the Rose-Hulman group is off to Stockholm for a day of cultural activities in Sweden's capital.

Day 4, Monday, September 12, 2011

We have met the entire class of Swedish students and faculty members, Mats Daniels and Åsa Cajander. An expert on cross-cultural communications, Helena Bernáld, spent yesterday with us and conducted a seminar that exposed the students to many of the issues they will face while working with each other.

 A Day At The Museum: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students visited the anatomical theatre at the University of Uppsala museum.  Among the items at the museum is the original thermometer used by Anders Celsius in his temperature experiments.  

After lunch, this year's project client, Benny Eklund, met with the group.  Students in the 2009 fall class produced a white paper on access to electronic health care records.  The report was submitted to the European Commission, and it convinced commissioners about key issues involving patient accessibility to medical records.  In March, the Commission launched a $3.5 million (Euro) project showing all of Europe the potential of such a concept.  The Commission nearly copied the services that were presented in the December 2009 seminar by the project students (exceeding Eklund's expectations).  This year students have been asked to look at interoperability - how do we accomplish the goal of patient access to health-care records when there are many different versions of electronic health care records being used.  The project will be challenging.

Following dinner everyone got together for an evening of bowling, to socialize a bit and get to know other even better.  It was a very successful first day of collaboration for everyone.

View photos from the trip at:


Day 3, Sunday, September 11, 2011

  Rose-Hulman Goes Global: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students proudly display the school banner in front of the Uppsala Cathedral in Sweden. 

Our first full day in Uppsala started with a visit to the project workroom in the Mathematics and Information Technology Center buildings on Uppsala University's Polacksbacken campus.  This is where we met several of the Swedish students on the project.  Later, we enjoyed a guided tour of the Museum Gustavianum, Uppsala University's museum (  The museum portrays the history of the university, which dates to 1477 and is the oldest university in Scandinavia.  On display in the museum are the original notes of one of the first students to attend the university, as well as the original thermometer that Anders Celsius used in his temperature experiments.  Celsius was on the faculty at the university at the time.  Here is an interesting fact - Celsius originally proposed that the boiling point of water be 0 degrees and the freezing point of water be 100 degrees!

Following the museum visit, we walked through Uppsala Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Scandinavia.  We then went on to view Uppsala Castle, which overlooks the Botanical Garden.  After a couple of hours rest, the team ate dinner at Max Burger, Sweden's answer to McDonald's.

The project and the collaboration begin tomorrow!
View photos from the trip at:

Day 1, September 9, 2011

 Program developer, Cary Laxer  

Eight students enrolled in this fall's Computing in a Global Society course, and they're learning about globalization in the computing industry through a cross-cultural project with their peers at Uppsala University in Sweden.  The students and the course instructor, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering Head Cary Laxer, left on September 9 for a week of collaboration and cultural activities with students in Uppsala's IT in Society course.

The project client is Benny Eklund, a member of the Uppsala County Council.  One of the council's responsibilities is administering the Akademiska Sjukhuset (literally "academic sick house" or university hospital).  This year's project will look at services that require the ability to extract (and perhaps store) information from medical records no matter where and in what form they are kept.  The focus will be on interoperability.

Two years ago, students taking the Computing in a Global Society courses produced a white paper on accessibility to electronic health care records.  This year's project will extend that work.  There is a possibility of a European Union-wide project, based on this work, being funded later this year. The client believes there are many technical and other challenges associated with this issue.  Attempts to address these issues have already begun in Sweden, Europe and the United States.


 Last year's trip  (Photo: Cary Laxer)

The Rose-Hulman group will be kept busy while in Sweden.  In addition to the project work, the students will attend a seminar by Helena Bernáld, an expert on cross-cultural communication.  These students will make presentations on the challenges of developing software for the health-care industry.  They will also attend presentations by the Uppsala students on the Swedish health-care industry and collaboration tools.  There will also be time for cultural sightseeing in both Uppsala and Stockholm.

Several of the Rose-Hulman students will be hosted by Uppsala students in their apartments, adding to the experiences for all students and helping everyone to better understand each other's culture.

Postcards will arrive regularly -- return here for updates, along with photos, throughout this exciting journey.

Postcard from Sweden  #5; today's photos are on Facebook.