Welcome to the Alumni website for the School of Computer Science in St Andrews!

Feel free to look around, reminisce, and contribute. We're always looking for good stories and pictures to put onto the site. If you think you can help, you can email us at alumni [[at]] cs.st-andrews.ac.uk

Memories of St Andrews: Isabel Peters

March 27th, 2013 No comments

Essay CompetitionName: Isabel Peters

Year of Graduation: 2012

What is your favourite memory from your time studying Computer Science in St Andrews?

Certainly the people and the CS department itself. Over the course of the four years our class had become a very close group of friends. Unlike many other departments, we all (students) knew each other because we had many group assignments and classes were relatively small. We enjoyed classes together, agonised over some tricky assignments together and pulled all-nighters to finish our junior honours project together. These memories are irreplaceable. The CS department itself is very modern and welcoming – the computers are updated regularly and the class- rooms are very well – equipped and comfortable. Another plus is surely the amazing coffee area.

What are you doing now?

I am currently doing a Masters in Advanced Computing at Imperial College London. The course is quite demanding and covers a quite broad range of subjects. The modules are more specific on topics I have covered at St Andrews and so definitely build upon my previous knowledge.

What was your favourite module, and why?

One of my favorite modules was Data Encoding. The module deals with some fundamental ideas of security and data compression, topics we are concerned with in everyday life. I particularly enjoyed the interplay between mathematical concepts (many of which I covered in the Finite mathematics module) and the algorithms in computer science. It is fascinating how the mathematical ideas of for example encryption and decryption can ensure secure banking transactions in the internet or how the data size of an image can be reduced without decreasing  the quality of the image itself.

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Memories of St Andrews: Andrew Bone

October 27th, 2012 No comments

Andrew BoneName: Andrew Bone

Year of Graduation: 2004

What is your favourite memory from your time studying Computer Science in St Andrews?

I loved my time at St Andrews and I’ve loads of great memories but my favourite times (from an academic point of view!) were when working in the labs. There was great camaraderie amongst the class, especially when we were working on group projects. The project that turned the whole lab into an automated fulfilment warehouse using Lego was particularly memorable and enjoyable.

What are you doing now?

After a short time as a Software Engineer for Sword Ciboodle, I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as I wanted to get a more general business education (but I couldn’t afford to go back to university). Ultimately I qualified as a Chartered Accountant and after a few years I moved to RBS, where I still work in a Financial Planning and Analysis team.

However, not for much longer… My love of all things techy has not left me, and right now I’m launching a start-up business with a good friend of mine (blatant plug: www.airts.co.uk). Hopefully both my technical skills and my business skills will come in handy. We’re going to be helping organisations model and solve really hard combinatorial problems (timetabling, scheduling etc.) It’s an exciting time!

What was your favourite module, and why?

I think doing my dissertation was my favourite part of the course as it was the first time I’d had the opportunity to spend the time building something myself that was a fairly large system and that brought a real sense of achievement.

But to be honest, I really enjoyed all of it. It never seemed like a chore going to lectures as I was so interested in the subject.

I would advise any prospective student to study something they are passionate about. You’ll enjoy your time at university much more, and you’ll get better marks.

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Memories of St Andrews: Ben Allen

October 2nd, 2012 No comments

Ben AllenName: Ben Allen

Year of Graduation: 2004

What is your favourite memory from your time studying Computer Science in St Andrews?

So many to choose from! I really enjoyed the junior year group project. The project involved programming LEGO Mindstorms. The project was a lot fun and involved building a track, with barcodes for junctions, that weaved throughout the whole computer lab. I learnt a lot about teamwork and the value of coding all-nighters!

The other memory that sticks out was the weekend retreat to a stately home outside of St Andrews. It was a great chance to socialize with a wider group of students and, importantly, lecturers and researchers. The presentations over this weekend opened my eyes to the research process and the interesting projects the St Andrews staff and post-graduates were working on.

What are you doing now?

I work for Cappex.com. A Chicago based company focused on college and scholarship search. I’m a Product Manager working in an Agile Scrum environment. We build great web products iteratively and incrementally; delivering features every week! My interests now are Scrum, Lean start-up and Product Management.

What was your favourite module, and why?

Different courses appealed to me in different ways. From a purely academic sense, I enjoyed the Computer Security module. I found the subject matter fascinating. Learning about how security is much more than cryptography was an important lesson!

My career has focused on user-centered design so, from a practical perspective, the Human Computer Interaction module was extremely valuable. Understanding that software design is more than just elegant code was (and still is) vital. The reading I did in that class got me my first job!

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Memories of St Andrews: Kris Love

October 2nd, 2012 No comments

Kris LoveName: Kris Love

Year of Graduation: 2008

What is your favourite memory from your time studying Computer Science in St Andrews?

My fondest memory of St Andrews Computer Science was most definitely the late night lab sessions. More than a last minute push for completion of projects, it became an opportunity for collaborative working, much laughter and fitted with daytime workload. Not only did the lab sessions provide a medium for completing the projects and exercises, it also helped deepen my understanding and became a good knowledge sharing platform.

What are you doing now?

After graduation from St Andrews I carried on running my own business, providing technical management in the event industry in Edinburgh. After 18 months I moved to London where I now work for an event management agency on their Production Team. Although I had decided that I wouldn’t pursue a career in computing, the skills I learnt at St Andrews have helped me with my current job. Our company are one of the main event agencies for Google in EMEA, so I spend a lot of time producing and delivering conferences, product launches and parties for Google. When I thought I would no longer use my programming skills, I was proved wrong. We create concepts for new Google demos that we deliver at a range of events. From an Android controlled ‘claw’ grabber amusement game, to a chess game powered by Arduino allowing hardware and software to interact with day to day objects, the programming skills gained at St Andrews have given us the edge among our competitors.

What was your favourite module, and why?

Favourite module was Artificial Intelligence. The depth and complexity of the topic was extremely interesting and provided great insight into the depth of the human brain and perception, and how this is being artificially recreated to make computational decisions more “human-like”. The practicals were interesting and this led to my interest in robotic decision-making ultimately culminating in my Senior Honours project into robotic movement algorithms.

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Job Oppurtunities with Kana Software

September 25th, 2012 2 comments

For those looking for employment, Kana Software are looking to hire computer science graduates. Kana Software recently bought Sword Ciboodle (former Graham Technology) where several former students have been employed. More information can be found on-line at:

http://www.kana.com/about-kana/careers.php

For those who are interested they can forward their cv’s to pgorman :at: kana :dot: com

Thanking you for your time.

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Memories of St Andrews: Warren Templeton

September 15th, 2012 No comments

warren TempletonName: Warren Templeton

Year of Graduation: 2005

What is your favourite memory from your time studying Computer Science in St Andrews?

I can honestly say I made some real life-long friends in Computer Science, many of whom I count to be my great friends to this day. It is clichéd, but it is the other students who really help make the experience fruitful. That said, the lecturers, professors, and tutors were just as approachable, often times willing to have a general chat in the halls. With many of them studying pretty amazing/cutting edge problems, there was never a dull conversation to be had!

The annual trip to The Burn cemented many of the relationships with lecturers and student colleagues. The open ‘fireside’ chats and games/activities shared amongst the attendees gave us a different view on what the University was researching.

What are you doing now?

Following graduation I worked at a couple of firms in The City on technical roles, moving from developing new systems to managing teams of developers. We worked to decommission 40 year old mainframes, build brand new reporting platforms, expand product capabilities of mature technology platforms, and build out businesses to brand new markets.

My career has since morphed to now encompass delivering solutions to our Stock Loan and Repo trading desk, managing change in the technology and operational organisations for the bank. I am now a programme lead at Morgan Stanley, managing the delivery of a 4 year project, automating the firm’s global inventory asset distribution. This industry leading collateral management platform will enable to the bank to lower the cost of borrowing, increase access to new markets, and reduce the firm’s risk profile.

What was your favourite module, and why?

The courses taught on software delivery and software management have paid dividends in my career. In fact I still look to some of the papers I wrote at Uni for reference material! Modules like Component Technology and Programming Theory were conceptually the most interesting courses, teaching us the benefits of putting various pieces of technology together efficiently and quickly to meet the objective of the problem.

However, I still attest that the Final Year Dissertation was the most challenging, most time consuming, and ultimately, most rewarding course of my studies. Taking on a portion of research being performed by the university and looking to put one’s own BSc spin on the subject is no easy feat! The culmination of four years of study, modules, exams, and practicals; one is challenged to apply the skills and tools one had acquired through teaching to explore the boundaries of computing.

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Memories of St Andrews: Adam Denheen

September 15th, 2012 No comments

Name: Adam Denheen

Year of Graduation: 2008

What is your favourite memory from your time studying Computer Science in St Andrews?

Looking below this answer is starting to seem a little clichéd but my favourite memories are of being in the lab with other students either working on practicals or working together on our group projects. There was a real sense of camaraderie especially while we were working on the group projects even between competing groups. We all had different ways of achieving the same goal and it was great seeing what other people would come up with.

What are you doing now?

I’m currently working as software engineer for a company called Automation Consultants based just outside of Reading. We’re currently building a hosted test management tool but being a relatively small (but growing!) company I find myself wearing a lot of different hats from day to day so both the breadth and depth of material covered at St Andrews has provided a great base to build off.

What was your favourite module, and why?

This is a hard one for me as I actually found quite a number of them to be excellent, though my top three are probably Artificial Intelligence, Component Technology and Distributed Systems. In my work I find myself making use of and building upon a lot of the knowledge learned in both Component Technology for the practical work with message orientated middleware and Distributed Systems for all the theory on building both scalable and reliable systems, which is especially relevant these days as companies look to make savings through cloud deployments.

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Memories of St Andrews: Jamie Carson

September 6th, 2012 No comments

Jamie CarsonName: Jamie Carson

Year of Graduation: 2012

What is your favourite memory from your time studying Computer Science in St Andrews?

The final demos for both the Junior and Senior Honours Projects were pretty special days. Demonstrating to, not only your lecturers, but to your classmates, what you’d managed to produce at the end of a year-long project was a great feeling. It was really rewarding to have staff talk to you and be genuinely interested in the work that you had produced, and how you had produced it.

What are you doing now?

I’m currently working as a Research Assistant, working on a joint project between the Computer Science and Geography departments.

What was your favourite module, and why?

The CS1006 programming projects module in my first year definitely was one of my favourite modules. It’s the first chance you get to work on a larger scale than the initial practicals that you work on in first year. Working in a pair we produced some really fun software, learnt some important lessons in team working, and had a great time doing it. Building a ‘Sheep Dog Trials’ video game was a particular highlight. Combining the interesting projects and fun paired programming with the impressed looks we got when we showed our non computer science friends what we’d been working on, means that the module still makes me smile.

Favourite Quote

“This box is small, and this box is far away”

(Referencing Father Ted in the Graphics module)

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Memories of St Andrews: Ben Birt

September 6th, 2012 No comments

Ben BirtName: Ben Birt

Year of Graduation: 2010

What is your favourite memory from your time studying Computer Science in St Andrews?

The final demonstration of my Senior Honours class’ dissertation projects. We had all gathered in the shared 3rd/4th year lab, where each of us was trying to set up our demos for our markers to see. My particular project was based on a peer-to-peer network, and so to lend some authenticity to the demo I had logged in and started up my demonstration on a bunch of machines – but because the whole class was there, these machines were dotted around the room and so I was running around trying to get it set up, in amongst my whole class all of whom were nervously trying to do the same.

Giving the demonstration was fun, but frustrating. Fun because this was more or less the culmination of (the practical part of) a year’s worth of work, which I’d finally be able to show off in a reasonably polished fashion. Frustrating because demos never go the way you hope them to – during the live presentation I think I discovered two or three bugs that hadn’t occurred in my prior testing!

In any case, this was a really great experience; particularly because we’d gone through the year seeing glimpses of each other’s projects and this was the first time that we really got a chance to see in full what everyone else had made.

What are you doing now?

I work for Google. My job title is SWE-SRE, which stands for Software Engineer – Site Reliability Engineer. At Google most engineers are Software Engineers – these people develop most of the code that runs Google applications. I was a Software Engineer for about 18 months, and I really enjoyed working on that project.

A smaller group of engineers are classed as Site Reliability Engineers. We take a bigger role in responsibility over Google’s production systems. We carry pagers while on-call which are used to alert us when a system is having issues; when we get paged we have to quickly troubleshoot and respond to the issue. There is further subdivision in SRE into two roles: SWE-SRE, and SE-SRE (Systems Engineers). The differing responsibilities are broadly the following: SE-SREs take care of high-level details of the system as a whole – its general structure, communication channels, monitoring, etc. SWE-SREs generally have a deeper understanding of the code that makes up the system, and take care of designing the modules that make up the higher-level design. However, take this with a pinch of salt: I think that it’s important to understand that nobody at Google is really pigeon-holed into doing X or Y; really the important thing is that the different members of a team come together to produce good results with whatever their disparate skillsets may be.

While part of an SRE’s job is being on-call for Google’s production systems, what personally really interests me is deep-diving into the system itself and refactoring (and in some cases rewriting big chunks of) the code to make the system as a whole more robust, or scalable, or have lower latency, or be more resource-efficient. I find this really interesting and rewarding, and that is why I have made the switch from SWE to SRE.

What was your favourite module, and why?

There were a bunch of really interesting modules. However, if I have to choose a favourite, I’d have to say Programming Language Design and Implementation.

I didn’t really know before attending this class but it turns out that I find languages, and language theory, really interesting. This interest has stayed with me ever since; I enjoy learning new programming languages and their specific design points, and in particular I really like learning totally modern languages – my new favourite is Go, which has a bunch of nice features.

Kevin Hammond was a really excellent lecturer – I feel as though I learnt a lot from him and really enjoyed his teaching style.

Favourite Quote

“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” – Grace Hopper (who apparently developed the first compiler!)

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Job Opportunities Edinburgh Area

May 15th, 2012 No comments

Hi Guys;

For those looking for employment within the Edinburgh area, we have recently been informed, by Niall Bree of edenscott, of graduate job openings with Avaloq. The positions available can be found online at:

http://www.edenscott.com/avaloq

Application is through email to: Avaloq@edenscott.com

Niall’s blurb:

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For the June intake they are ideally looking for new employees to start on June 6th. However, it would be still worthwhile for students [finishing later] to apply as they will have another intake in September/ October time.

We are also able to help candidates with writing a cv if required.

Happy to answer any questions if any of them wish to email or call me.
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Niall’s contact details are at the foot of the above web page.

Thanking you for your time.

Jan de Muijnck-Hughes

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