Computer Science is not for the faint-hearted

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If there’s anything I’ve learnt this year it’s this: Computer Science is not for the faint-hearted. I’m talking about things like artificial intelligence, networking theory, compiler engineering… these are all difficult subjects for instance. I hear some people complain that these subjects are useless. I disagree however because I think it depends entirely on what field you are going into. I think it is still possible to excel in them with a lot of diligence (but also possible to fail them). I am pleased with my score of 68.5% (Upper-second or 2:1) for Year 2; rumour has it that this is the most difficult year!

Despite the vast workload in Year 2, the good side to it is that we have had a good mix of theory and practical; this is what makes ECS a good place to study – your skills are almost instantly transferable as far as I can see because you have used the theory and the tools. Put it this way, my inbox doesn’t seem to pass a day without receiving an email about an internship or a graduate offer with a company.

These are the courseworks I have done this semester:

  • Software Engineering Group Project: Worked as part of 4-person team to develop a teaching tool for airport classifications. We used Java and Java2D to implement it. In addition: design patterns, metrics and formal technical meetings. The project was documented throughout thanks to an Agile development process. At the start and the end of the project lifecycle, we gave a tech demo of our product to the client.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Coded and trained a 2-D perceptron to classify data in Matlab; applied it to Qian and Sejnowski’s data to sub-classify protein structures.
  • Distributed Computing: Coded a distributed notification framework; wrote a desktop Twitter-esque application which can be used for newsfeeds etc.
  • Compiler Engineering: Designed and coded a basic compiler for Pascal code in Java with ANTLR.
  • Database Systems: Designed a MySQL database for a dancing school and wrote a PHP interface for it.

As you can see, I have been busy!

Now that I’ve had a bit of break, I will be starting my placement with Roke Manor Research in Romsey on Monday. I’m afraid that I can’t say too much about what I’ll be doing there due to confidentiality and non-disclosure etc. but I can tell you that I will be working in the Cyber Security department all being well. Hopefully with the appropriate moderation from my manager, I maybe able to to let you know more information!

My pearls of wisdom are this for Year 2: Work hard and go to lectures. Going to lectures in term time is the best form of revision for the exam.

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