Dr Bruce Scharlau

Dr Bruce Scharlau
Dr Bruce Scharlau
Dr Bruce Scharlau

Senior Lecturer

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 272193
Office Address

Room 225, Meston Building, Old Aberdeen

School of Natural and Computing Sciences


You can also find me at my blogTwitterLinkedIn, and GitHub.

I'm a Senior Lecturer on the 'Scholarship' track in Computing Science at the University of Aberdeen, where I'm mainly teaching programming, agile and lean development practices, service design approaches, and entrepreneurship ideas to students. I find ways to bring live clients to my student projects so that they gain more experience before they graduate. This has been particularly successful for the last ten years of our MSc Information Technlogy programme.

Before joining the department in 2001 I was a self-employed developer building Java driven websites. I obtained my MSc in Applied Computing at Dundee University in 2000. I obtained my Ph.D in International Relations from St. Andrews University in 1992. I received my B.A in International Relations and German at the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota, USA in 1986.

I'm interested in helping people build better software and look for collaborative opportunities via the Aberdeen Software Factory.

I also create opportunities to bring Aberdeen's tech community together through my work as a trustee and treasurer with Code the City, a civic co-design and hacking group. 

Let's work together

I'm always looking for opportunities to use my skills coaching software development and facilitating events with organisations. I have led a variety of sessions of different lengths for different groups in a variety of powerful approaches to deliver useful results. 

 I was trained by StrategicPlay in February 2012 to facilitate Lego Serious Play workshops, and in May 2015 to facilitate CoCreACT workshops.

I was trained by Deborah Preuss in open space facilitation, and facilitated a one-day open space for over 700 people.

I trained as a Level 3 coach with the university in 2014 to be a coach for staff as part of a network of coaches for the universities of Aberdeen and St Andrews.


Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Chair of the University of Aberdeen Positive Outcomes Task Force, September 2015 to December 2019, which meant I also sat on the University Teaching and Learning Committee.

Athena Swan Co-Chair for Natural and Computing Science September 2015 to September 2018.

Erasmus/Go Abroad Co-ordinator for Computing Science September 2015 to present

Industrial Liaison Co-ordinator for Computing Science September 2015 to present

Programme Director, MSc/PgDp Information Technology, September 2018 to present

Former Admin Responsibilities

Programme Director, MSc/PgDp Software Entrepreneurship May 2013 to September 2015
Director of Undergraduate Teaching September 2012 to August 2015

Director of Postgraduate Teaching January 2011 to August 2012

Admissions and Programme Tutor, MSc/PgDp Advanced CS, IS and E-Commerce degrees October 2009 to January 2011

Computing Science Department Webmaster August 2007-October 2009 

Admissions and Programme Tutor, MSc/PgDp in Electronic Commerce Technology September 2001- August 2007


External Memberships

Member of ACM and Agile Alliance

Fellow in the Higher Education Academy in April 2012, and a Senior Fellow in October 2016.

From June 2015 to August 2019 I was pitching, and then organising ITiCSE 2019 to be hosted in Aberdeen in July 2019. This meant preparing the pitch and proposed budget, while also moving up the duties on the conference commitee to become familiar with the conference. In 2017 I was responsible for session evaluation at the ITiCSE 2017 conference (Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education) in Bologna, Italy. I was the co-chair of the working groups for ITiCSE 2018 in Larnaca, Cyprus. I was co-chair for hosting ITiCSE 2019 in Aberdeen in July 2019.

Roger McDermott of RGU joined me as co-chair for the conference from 2018 onwards to help deliver ITiCSE 2019. This was the 24th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education in Aberdeen, UK. The event is initiated by the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), along with ACM Europe Council, and Informatics Europe, and hosted at the University of Aberdeen.

We generated £584k impact in the area through the conference with attendees from 29 countries 42% from US 20% from UK, 4% from Canada,4% from Australia, and most of the others from Europe, plus a number from other places too.
We had the following attendance for ITiCSE 2019
113 people for Doctoral Consortium and Working Groups
262 delegates, 274 counting speakers and exhibitors
35 accompanying persons.
We had planned originally for 180 people. We went a bit over that to break the previous attendance record of an ITiCSE conference of 230 attendees in Bologna in 2006.

We broke an ITiCSE record with 243 papers submitted, of which 66 were accepted, giving an acceptance rate of 27%.

Since then I have been a 'social chair for ITiCSE 2020, and 'virtual co-chair' for ITiCSE 2021.

Since April 2017 I am a committee member for Play4Agile organisation team, which takes place each year in Rueckersbach, Germany.

For ten years (2009-2019) I co-organised and hosted the monthly Techmeetup Aberdeen as featured in Wired' Infographic the monthly meetup of tech oriented developers, entrepreneurs, small business folks and academics (both staff and students). 

I co-organised the Aberdeen leg of the Global Service Jam with Steven Milne an annual weekend service design event each February/March. We have done this every year from 2013-2017.

I was the external examiner for the MSc degrees in computing science at the University of Portsmouth from September 2015 to January 2020.

Latest Publications

View My Publications


Research Overview

I'm always looking for opportunities to use my skills coaching software development and facilitating events with organisations. I have led a variety of sessions of different lengths for different groups in a variety of powerful approaches to deliver useful results. Please get in touch if you think I might be able to help you or your organisation.

I seek opportunities to engineer collisions between real world businesses and computing science and other students at the University of Aberdeen, because experience plus theory trumps theory on its own, especially if this can be done in an entrepreneurial manner.

The key areas of my interest are applied software development processes combining agile, lean and service design approaches. This is a people process, and my skills are in finding small steps to make large applications a reality. This is the recurrent theme of my teaching, and the co-corricular work that I do in the community supporting professionals, academics and students.

Most of my conference presentations and publications are tied to sessions covering better ways of teaching students how to do software development. A number focus on using games for learning, while others are about building empathy for our fellow team members so that we can work better together.


 I collaborate with a number of groups both within the university, and outside of it as the manager of the Aberdeen Software Factory, which places students with different projects that need software developed. The ASF follows two threads: summer group projects with the MSc IT students using live clients, and students working with live clients on funded projects. This has been a growing process with a number of successful outcomes for students finding employment more quickly, as well as clients happy with the software we developed for them.

I am a trustee for CodeTheCity along withIan Watt, and Andrew Sage. Together we run regular civic, co-design hack events across Scotland. CodeTheCity was also the first ODI Node in Scotland.

Funding and Grants

 Since the 2010-2011 academic year I have regularly received two or three grants of £5000 each year from Scottish Funding Councils Innovation Voucher scheme which fund the Aberdeen Software Factory for its paid work with external clients, and enables its other activities. This has made the transition to paid employment upon graduation easier for those students who have participated, and enabled one student to move from a low paid, non-computing part-time job, to a regular part-time job as a software developer with a local engineering firm. This programme enables students to have experience working with clients before they graduate

Learning and Teaching Enhancement Programme October 2011. £1000 Experiential Learning. The aim of the initiative was to develop a process to enable student groups and local business to co-create a design thinking solution to a business model problem using experiential creative problem solving techniques using StrategicPlay processes with Lego Serious Play.

The TEMPUS Incoming project from 2012-2016 with European partners helped Serbian universities establish multidisciplinary programmes in computing departments and was worth EURO 55644

Higher Education Academy 2014 £700 to organise a student-led software houses workshop bringing together information from different practitioners to see how we might learn from each other in order to have more students take part.

Knowledge Technology Partnership (KTP) grant of £133,000 from May 2014 to May 2016 with Do Coyle in Education and Ian Heywood in Business working with Aberdeen City Council to develop a data observatory for better insights in the young person's services. This successful project post has agreed to be funded for a further five years by ACC.

I led the HEA Strategic Enhancement Programme on Employability from September 2014 to May 2015 at the UoA which sought to embed student processes into employability practices here. The £3000 grant was funded with money from COPS, CAD and CASS.

EU Erasmus Plus project of EURO 46000 from 2015 to 2019 with European and Serbian partner universities to establish the legislation and implementation of short-cycle and part-time degrees at Serbian universities. These are no legally possible at the moment, and this project will see their establishment.

Knowledge Technology Partnership project of £91,000 with David Green in Geosciences and Ian Heywood in Business in collaboration with the ANM Group to explore new ways of integrating digital assets into their work.



  • Postgraduate, 3 year, September start

    I am the director of this programme. We have designed it to be a springboard for students, who wish to change their career paths towards computing and the tech industry. A key part of the degree is the final group project, which is normally when the team build an application for a client using agile approaches learned on the programme.

  • Postgraduate, 3 stage, January start

    This is the same as the September start, but lasts longer as the project comes after the taught components finish in December.

Teaching Responsibilities

Teaches a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses dealing with software development and entrepreneurship. Many of these deal with group work using service design approaches as well as agile and lean development approaches. Where possible all of this happens in a work-related-learing environment using problem based learning approaches.


I have taught a range of courses to undergraduate students over the years covering programming and its intersection with human centred design (service design). I have sought to enable honours projects with live clients where possible so that students gain more insight into industry.


I mainly look after the MSc IT students as the programme director, and mentor the teams on their projects with clients. I focus on bringing agile approaches and practices into the programme, and lead the week of agile workshops ahead of the final team projects.

CityLab: Where the City is the Classroom

I co-founded CityLab (PD3002 and PD3502) as a joint venture between the Univerity of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University and Aberdeen City Council. This inter-institutional and multi-disciplinary project brings students from both instintitons together each term to prototype sustainable projects aimed at improving life in the city. Successful prototypes are then carried forward either by the city council, or its other partners.

University of Aberdeen students take part via PD3002, or PD3502 as level three elective, and several students have carried forward working with the Transformation unit of Aberdeen City Council, whcih looks after CityLab, and helped support subsequent cohorts of students on the course. Sadly, City Lab was stopped in 2019.

The first cohort of students developed a project carried forward by CFine to reduce food waste in the city. This eventually evolved into the 'Tuk In' crowdfunding project launched in spring 2017.

Aberdeem City Council fund CityLab with time and money because it helps them to develop its services and partnerships in more creative means and has support at all levels.

We use the #citylababz hashtag for social media posts on CityLab.

City Lab Presentations

Associated Work

Following a presentation at the University of Edinburgh's 'Gearing Up' event in March 2017, we were asked to help their MasterCard Foundation Scholars Programme develop the introduction to their summer school sessions, which would follow a similar format as CityLab. This will run from 30-31 May, 2017 and include a number of the students from different cohorts helping deliver the materials.

Aberdeen Software Factory: Live Client Experience for Students

Since 2009 students can take part either on specific paid projects with clients, or as part of CS5942 as students on the MSc IT degree. In both cases students gain valuable experience working with live clients to develop software, which needs to be used as aoon as possible.

Clients have ranged from work for departmental collaborations with external clients, to other academics in the university, as well as numerous clients across Scotland. These include start ups such as Float, and Equibuddy when they were being prototyped. More recently we guided https://www.sessionondemand.co.uk from idea to full deployment as multi-tenanted SAAS application.

Both type of students gain from their Software Factory experience. The paid students learn to deliver work regularly to clients as part of a team of two while refining what they've learned in the classroom. The summer project students, who work with live clients learn to work as a software development team, which they've not done before. In both cases this work prepares them for their post-university career.


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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Conferences

Contributions to Journals