My interest in computer science started at a college open day when I was trying to choose subjects to take at A-level. I had an interest in maths and wanted a way of applying that logical thinking, so taking computing seemed a good choice.
Since coming to Surrey my interest in the subject has deepened. The thing I most enjoy about my course is the broadness of the topics we cover. Some areas which I’ve found fascinating – such as Artificial Intelligence and Computer Logic – are ones I wouldn’t necessarily have thought would interest me. Studying on this course has enabled me to find out about aspects of computer science that I’d like to pursue in the future.
On the flip side, it’s also shown me some aspects of computer science that I’ve realised I don’t want to pursue, which I think is just as important in order to avoid going into a job that won’t satisfy you.
The academic staff in the Department of Computer Science are very enthusiastic about their areas of expertise – which include fields such as cyber security and machine learning – and if you have a question or need help with something they are more than happy to help. The computer science facilities are good, and have improved even more during my time at the University, with the addition of a new computer lab.
The fact that Surrey offered a Professional Training placement with a range of prestigious companies was one of the main reasons I chose the University. I decided to spend my placement with Lockheed Martin because I wanted to get experience of working for a large organisation while throwing myself into the deep end of a software development job.
My work focused on an internal research and development programme. My main tasks included developing and using the in-house modelled suite of software which was created to aid the programme software by simulating real-world scenarios, and testing the software in these situations.
As well as gaining technical skills such as the programming language C#, my Professional Training placement also taught me how to behave in a professional way and how to use my initiative. At University you are taught subject matter which you then put into practice. In a working environment you are not taught everything you need to know, and often have to either find the right person to ask, or research the information yourself.
During my placement I was trusted to take on tasks outside of my normal day-to-day job – such as giving a presentation to new intern candidates about my personal experiences on placement. I also volunteered to help with the company’s ‘Merlin Challenge’, helping secondary school students to design and build a lifting mechanism capable of retrieving a helicopter stranded in the desert.
Another major achievement was being offered a graduate job with Lockheed Martin at the end of my placement. Working as a software engineer for the year has made me even more certain that it’s what I want to do as a future career, and I’m looking forward to getting started.