Gaining professional skills and broadening horizons

We caught up with final year Computer Science student Eric who filled us in on his course, his final year project and life at Brighton.

What made you choose Brighton and this course?

I’ve always loved Brighton, and have always been good with computers and programming. Brighton has a great tech scene too.

How did you feel when you were first accepted to Brighton?

Very excited, I didn’t expect myself to ever really get to university. The course was pretty much as expected, maybe with a little too much maths and written formal logic thrown in (things I’ve always struggled with, despite doing well at programming), but the tuition and extra assistance from certain tutors pulled me through. I didn’t expect it to get so cold here in winter!!

 What were the highlights of your course?

Highlights have definitely been plentiful, best bits have been when we’ve been given free rein over something, like Saeed’s second year module of bit-shifting programming, it was great fun to get so low-level. And especially this final year – every project this year we’ve been able to choose our own focus and application, really good to flex the creativity unshackled.

Would you recommend your course?

Saeed’s 2nd modules, they’re tough but once you get what it’s all about it completely opens up your understanding of CS. The recurring programming module throughout the course is another favourite, doing the lab tutorials with mates you can get some healthy competition going and some really good co-operative learning.

What has coming to Brighton done for you?

Brighton has completely changed me as a person, it’s broadened my horizons hugely. I wasn’t really going anywhere before this place, now with the hard work I’ve put in, the environment I’m at and the friends I’ve met along the way I’ve got real chances to get somewhere good in life – already half there!

Can you tell us a bit about your final year project?

The project is a search engine of news, but rather than displaying a boring list of items; it’ll display the results on an interactive world map. Think Google News & Google Maps slammed into one. The searchable map of news relies on a community led effort to build “curated” maps of specific types of news, eg. Extreme Weather, Nature News, Conflict News. Anything you like really. Brighton Uni was kind enough to host it on their servers for free. I’m hoping to make something of it after university, hopefully keeping it free to use for anyone else who’s a news junkie but also keen on digital maps. It was great fun to build and a real passion project.

What skills have you learnt through this process/ experience?

I’ve learnt to use really modern tech stacks, VueJS, Sass, all sorts. It’s been hugely beneficial to my professional skill set and will hopefully land me some work after grad.

Outside of the Computer Science; the project’s taught me a bunch about Design – I really got to experiment and make the interface look just how I wanted. Having a supervisor who knows an absolute stack about design didn’t hurt either!

Did you do a placement year, if so where did you do your placement and can you tell us a bit about your role?

I did a placement year at RINA (formerly Edif ERA), I was working with their ERACS software team building features for the software and overhauling their web-facing services. The software, ERACS, assists in mapping out High Voltage Power Lines & national infrastructure. The current site at www.eracs.co.uk is a lot of my handy work. Got to work on some really interesting projects there, they were kind enough to let me rewrite my favourite one in a different language and open source it after leaving (though the code I wrote for them is closed source still), my rewrite is at; github.com/bogstandard/dxfeather

The lectures about optimisation and handling low-level stuff really assisted me, without those lectures I’d of had no chance at achieving some of the successes I did.

What are the main things you will take from the experience?

Placements are worth it, if things get tough (the commute was awful) it’s only for a year and what you learn from it is worth it. By doing that role I was able to secure a job nearby in Final Year and from that a full-time position for graduation. The main thing I’ve taken is life security by learning what I did while I was there.

How do you plan to use your experience and course in the future?

I’ll be working in the tech industry here on the skills I’ve learnt on the course are put to use everyday.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying for this course?

Go for it. You’ll go far if you put your heart and mind to it but enjoy it too. I’m so pleased I’ve met the people I did during the course, I’ve made friends for life here.

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