Continuing on from yesterdays post:

On the Thursday we all descended on the Novotel Southampton, which was to be our base for the overnight stay. When we arrived we were issued with our nametags and room keys. I was a bit miffed to find out that I had to share a room with a complete stranger from another university because we had an odd number of people in our group but didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. After asking an IBM representative about this I was lucky enough to be moved into another room of someone who hadn’t turned up 🙂


In the evening we had a nice meal in the hotel restaurant followed by team introductions (which included a fair share of Oxbridge bashing!) and a quiz. The quiz questions were pretty obscure and were obviously designed to get you to ask other universities if they knew the answer! After going to bed at around 11:30pm it was pretty hard having to get up for 7am breakfast but I managed to crawl out of bed and make it!

The Team (excluding me!) L-R clockwise: Liz (out lecturer), Simon, Richard, Peter, Mike.

After breakfast we were swiftly whisked off to IBM UK Laboratories, Hursley Park, Winchester, the main building of which is a pretty impressive stately home. Our first appointment of the morning was an impressive talk given by one of the ‘Master Inventors’ who, amongst other things, demonstrated how his complete lab was wired up to be Internet & voice controllable – very cool! We were then given a whistle-stop-tour of the site by our group host, which was as I imagined – very modern and business like.


After this (at around 11pm) we got down to the challenge itself. The rules are a bit complex to explain quickly but basically there were two sections to it – firstly we had 2.5 hours to complete as many of the 24 devised challenges as we could and in doing so obtain gold stars/tokens which would count in our favour in the next section. The challenges varied from being logical to physical and some took longer to complete than others. One I particularly enjoyed was where we had to direct each member of the team (who couldn’t see the screen) to play a lemmings like game and progress through a number of increasingly complex levels. One that was annoyingly difficult was trying to construct a jigsaw puzzle blindfolded whereby we had to describe the piece of the puzzle we had to the person who had to put it together! We did moderately well in this part of the challenge and then proceeded onto the final whereby we had to answer 30 general knowledge questions of varying difficulty in the fastest possible time.

In the end Imperial College, London managed to beat everyone else and were this years winners. Unfortunately we were never told exactly what score we got but I don’t think we did too badly – it was defiantly a lot of fun!


Once things were wrapped up we were delivered back to the hotel and were left to make our way home. I had the fun of bracing the London Friday afternoon rush hour and both the tube and Liverpool Street were crawling like I’ve never seen them before. Other than that the journey was uneventful and I made it home for about 8:30pm after a non-stop couple of days!


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