The BlueJ/Greenfoot Team Are Hiring

My job is in the School of Computing at the University of Kent (in Canterbury), working on the Greenfoot and BlueJ educational programming environments.
We were hiring — the deadline for the official application has now passed. But if you’re interested, you can always drop me a line to see what the situation is. Note that strong programming skills are essential.

Here’s the original post, I wanted to write a bit more about the job, to give a more informal overview.

Canterbury campus in winter, original photo by Stephen Train, CC BY-NC 2.0

We are a small team: essentially, there’s Michael Kölling and Ian Utting, who also teach at the university, and then there’s Davin (now doing his PhD) and me — where Davin and I are the sole developers at the moment. (Honourable mentions for our PhD students Michael Berry and Fraser McKay.) Right now, we’re too small, and we need more people! The group’s main activities currently include:

  1. development and maintenance of BlueJ (a large Java application)
  2. development and maintenance of Greenfoot (another large Java application)
  3. user support
  4. development and maintenance of various Ruby on Rails websites (, and a few more)
  5. developing a large-scale data collection mechanism for BlueJ
  6. designing the Next Big Thing in computing education (ha! — we hope)
  7. doing outreach with teachers, especially around the UK
  8. developing educational material
  9. writing academic papers

We’re looking to hire people that can definitely work on the top four to six items, and optionally the latter items on the list too. Thus the job is an interesting mix. At its core it’s a job involving software development of applications with millions of worldwide users (literally: BlueJ sees something like 2 million distinct users a year), but in a university setting. The downside is that universities don’t pay huge wages, but the upside is that it’s a university atmosphere, with no timesheets to fill in, no client deadlines to meet, no sales teams, no crunch periods, flexible working, generous annual leave, opportunities to teach or get involved in research, and an interesting variety of tasks to take on.

Canterbury campus in summer, original photo by Stephen Train, CC BY-NC 2.0

There’s no fixed profile of the sort of person we’re looking for. The job might suit a new graduate looking to get into software development in a small team, or an educational researcher (with technical skills) who is looking to influence the design of educational systems, or a teacher (again, with technical skills) who is looking for a change in career, or just a career break/sabbatical. I should point out: the job being offered is for one year fixed-term. The reason for this is simply that we receive our funding annually (as a donation from Oracle), and thus we can’t commit to hiring someone for longer than we have money to pay them for. (I’m also on an annual contract — now my fourth annual contract with the team.) But if our funding keeps coming, there will likely be an opportunity to extend the contract.

If you have any questions about the job or the application process, feel free to can contact any of the team: Michael or Ian are probably best for official queries, you’re also welcome to contact either of those two, or Davin or me for any questions about the job or what life is like on the team. We’re also on twitter (Michael, me). You can see three-quarters of the team on this recent video (from left to right: our guest host, Michael, Davin, me). If you’re not interested yourself but know someone who might be, please spread the word. We welcome applications from anyone, be they from a minority or a majority — the job application has more details on Kent’s diversity policies on pages 8 and 9. The closing date for applications is 28th March 2013, with interviews on 29th April 2013. We can be slightly flexible with start date, for example if you are currently finishing a degree and won’t be available until June.

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