"I joined Surrey’s boat club with the initial intention of getting fit and exploring a new sport – not realising that it would lead me to become part of a tight-knit family, creating wonderful memories and forming lifelong friendships."
Why did you decide to study your subject at Surrey?
I’m from Croatia and have always enjoyed meeting new people and embracing new cultures and opportunities. I’d become interested in developing intelligent systems so was motivated to come to Surrey when I discovered its reputation as a renowned research institution in artificial intelligence (AI).
What was it like to move to the UK?
At the age of 19 it was a culture shock, but student life at Surrey is great and it certainly surpassed my previous educational experiences in Croatia. Everyone was very friendly and kind, and making friends was easier that I’d thought.
What did you most enjoy about your course?
Having the opportunity to choose modules in my final year – such as Computational Intelligence, Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence – which enabled me to specialise. I got interested in intelligent systems with healthcare applications and, as a result, focused on the problem of early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s using AI for my thesis.
What else did you do while at Surrey?
I joined Surrey’s boat club with the initial intention of getting fit and exploring a new sport – not realising that it would lead me to become part of a tight-knit family, creating wonderful memories and forming lifelong friendships. There were times when balancing studying with training 10 times a week was challenging but the key was always in organisation and time management. One of my favourite memories was living with three of my friends during lockdown, preparing for a national rowing competition: our hard work paid off and we proudly secured a gold medal!
Tell us about your Professional Training placement at Sky UK…
I spent my placement as an Associate Development Engineer at Sky UK, based at its headquarters in Osterley, London, which is home to 8,000 staff.
What I really appreciated was being thrown into working on Sky’s biggest project at the time – Sky Glass – from the time I arrived. I was part of the end-to-end integration team and my job consisted of understanding various architectural concepts, workflow or data and defining leaks of metadata and service incompatibilities in IPTV products.
And you also did a research internship?
Yes! I spent a summer working as a researcher at Surrey, investigating different neural network models for integrating information in video activity recognition. I found that research is truly enjoyable. Getting experience of both industry and research was crucial for discovering my interest and choosing between a job in industry or a master’s degree.
What are you planning to do now that you’ve graduated?
I’m going to move to Stockholm to start a master’s in Machine Learning. I’m exciting about the new challenges and opportunities that await me, although leaving Surrey and my friends to pursue my goal has been a tough decision!
What were the best things about life at Surrey?
The student life I experience at Surrey was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Reflecting on my remarkable journey, I can wholeheartedly say that I’ve surpassed my own expectations. The version of myself from four years ago, boarding that flight to the UK, would undoubtedly be proud of the person I’ve become.