Google@Computer Science in St Andrews

The School hosted another successful Google event on Wednesday. Students heard first hand, from four of our talented alumni, and had an opportunity to chat with current students who have completed internships. The well-received and very well attended session also covered mock interviews and rewarded students with the customary pizza.

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Google @ St Andrews – 28th September

Come along and learn about Google and some of the engineering challenges they are tackling. The event will include talks from our very own CS alumni and mock interview opportunities, which are a great way to get feedback on your interview technique, from real Google Engineers. Pizza and drinks provided.

Date and Time: Wednesday 28th September
Venue: Jack Cole room 1.33ab

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Event sign up link: goo.gl/1EtfGj

Schedule:
Engineering at Google – 4 – 5.30pm – Presentations from four St Andrews CS alumni working at Google. Q&A session – An opportunity to chat with alumni presenters, and Google interns who are current studying at St Andrews.

Mock interview sessions – 7 – 9pm – Interested people should sign up using the link above.

SACHI contributes to Google’s Project Soli

The SACHI group’s contribution to Project Soli was selected and featured in the official alpha developer video released by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), and has subsequently been shown on stage during the Google I/O ATAP 2016 session earlier in May.

The team systematically explored the Soli and developed machine learning techniques to train and classify objects. Achieving advanced interactions in real time, at this scale with consumer ready devices is an exciting development within the project. Read more about their research and Project Soli experience in “Object recognition with the Project Soli in St Andrews”.

The team consisted of Hui-Shyong Yeo (a PhD student in SACHI), Patrick Schrempf (a 2nd year CS student), Gergely Flamich (a 2nd year CS student), Dr David Harris-Birtill (a senior research fellow in SACHI) and Professor Aaron Quigley.

Google's Project Soli workshop in March 2016

Google’s Project Soli workshop: March 2016

Katerina Saranti and Tatiana Matejovicova: Google STEP Internships

Congratulations to second year students Katerina Saranti and Tatiana Matejovicova, both have successfully secured Google STEP Internships with Google, in Zurich. A fantastic achievement given the highly sought after summer engineering projects and the competitive process involved.

Katerina had originally applied for a Google Anita Borg scholarship last year. She had intended Interning at a natural speech recognition company, before being contacted by a student development specialist from Google who encouraged her to apply for a STEP internship.

Katerina shared some of her thoughts on the interview process.

“After the Christmas holidays, a Student Development Specialist at Google emailed me asking me if I would be interested in applying for a STEP internship as my profile from the Anita Borg application seemed a good fit. It took me by surprise but I was thrilled of course and I spent the next few weeks preparing for the technical interviews.

I feel that all CS modules helped me for the interviews, but I found the most relevant module to be CS2001 as it focuses on data structures which are especially important for the interviews. Also crucial to my preparation was solving lots of coding problems by hand, without using an IDE, since during the interview I had to write out everything myself, without the help of auto-complete or the compiler’s complaints about my errors.

I had two technical interviews, I thought my first one went OK and I managed fairly easily to do the coding that I was asked but I was not quite sure about the second. The feedback took about two weeks to come out and after that, things went on rather quickly; a host matching interview was arranged for a project in Zurich and in a matter of hours I received confirmation that I was selected. The big bonus is that my friend and classmate Tatiana was also selected for the exact same project and I can’t think of a better outcome than us working side by side! Special thanks to the careers office who helped me with my CV which was necessary for the scholarship application.”

Thanks to Silvia and Katerina for sharing their experience in an inclusive and informative way, and in doing so encouraging other students to seek out internships.

We have supported a number of student led, or internship focused events in the last year including the Academic Skills Project and look forward to hearing more about the 2016 STEP internships at future events.

Silvia Nepšinská: Google STEP Internship

Congratulations to first year student Silvia Nepšinská, who has successfully secured a STEP Internship with Google in Zurich. Her success after one semester in computer science is exceptional, given the highly sought after places and competitive process.

Silvia first heard about Google STEP internships from a friend and applied to get real-life programming experience with a company renowned for its creative and varied office environment. She explained her motivation for applying and shared some of her thoughts on the process.

“Thanks to friends who already had internships, and also to the academic skills project talks last semester, I knew what to expect, how the interviews will probably look like. I participated in an algorithmic competition during high school, so I was familiar with the type of questions they would ask, but I have never had a programming interview before, never had to talk while coding, so that was completely new to me. I was really glad when Shyam offered to do a mock interview for me so I could try it.

I had 2 interviews, the first went quite well, but I didn’t know what to think about the second, because the interviewer didn’t talk very much, especially when I got stuck at one point, she mostly waited for me to resolve everything, so I had no idea what she was thinking, which was little scary. But apparently it went well, and they called me just few days later to tell me that I passed the interviews.

But that still wasn’t the end, because in next stage, teams select the successful interview candidates for their projects. It is still possible to get through interviews and not get an internship, because no suitable team/project was found. Last week I received a call from a team in Zurich. We discussed the potential project I would be doing with them and I could ask them whatever I wanted about it, or about the Zurich office in general.

The academic skills project Internship talks were great, because they gave me the information about the process. Also, we had a talk by St Andrews alumni James Smith from Google, and afterwards I signed up for their notifications mailing list. A Google University Programs employee located me from the list, and she talked to me about specifics of STEP internship and future interviews. She was also in contact with my recruiter, so I felt like I had two recruiters, which was really nice.”

The School is keen to highlight student achievement and showcase the talent, originality and creativity fostered here in computer science. Thanks to Silvia for sharing her experience and in doing so, encouraging other students to seek out future internships. We have supported a number of student led, or internship focused events in the last year including the Academic Skills Project, Lost in Translation: Academia to Industry and This is a Google Talk.

Academic Skills Project: Securing Internships and Job Placements

Academic Skills Project: Securing Internships and Job Placements

Lost in Translation: Academia to Industry

The School of Computer Science welcomed back three alumni to give keynote talks at our lost in translation event earlier this week. The well-attended and informative event organised by Professor Aaron Quigley, afforded current PhD students and early researchers in computer science an exclusive opportunity to hear from previous students about their transition from academia to industry.

Talks chaired by Dr Ognjen Arandelovic, highlighted the challenges and opportunities faced during their PhD journey but without doubt strengthened the concept of transferable skills provided by postgraduate study and research activities. Presentations incorporated research skills, internships, analytical ability, teamwork, the value of teaching and tutoring responsibilities, designing the CS merchandise, communication skills, the flexibility of research areas and the importance of social activities.

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Breakout sessions permitted small group discussions with each of our alumni, where they conveyed different experiences of research activities in the school, and their on-going experience of working within industry and within a recent start up. We are extremely proud of our alumni and thank them for their continued contribution to scheduled events, and for being fantastic ambassadors for Computer Science at St Andrews. You can read Neil’s “moving from academia to industry” blog post for his personal journey and reflection.

Alumni Keynote Speakers:
James Smith, Google, London.
Angus Macdonald, Aetherworks, New York.
Neil Moore, Adobe, Edinburgh.

Invited Guest:
Polly Purvis, CEO of ScotlandIS.

The event was funded by SICSA, The Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance.

Talk: ‘This is a Google Talk’ – by James Smith

Event details

  • When: 13th October 2015 20:00 - 21:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33
  • Format: Talk

The School of Computer Science is pleased to welcome back one of its former PhD students, James Smith, who is currently Google Product Manager, London to talk about Google @ St Andrews. FB_20150916_14_52_25_Saved_Picture

Abstract: Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. It’s an enormous goal to accomplish and we need great people to help us achieve it. We invite you to come learn about Google and some of the engineering challenges we’re tackling.

Sign up: goo.gl/GXXiWp

Ambitious, entrepreneurial, innovative, employable and highflying…

Words we use to describe our alumni, who work in New York, Switzerland, London and Edinburgh amongst other places.

Whether working for established companies such as Adobe and Google or in their own business start-ups such as AetherWorks LLC. and PlanForCloud (formerly ShopForCloud) our graduates continue to flourish. And rumour has it more of our talented CS graduates will be joining some of them shortly. The suspense! They are all exemplars of why St Andrews is the only Scottish university to feature in the 2013 High Fliers, a report about the graduate market in 2013.

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Clockwise from top left:

Rob, Angus and Greg from AetherWorks LLC., who took time out to capture a photo of themselves outside their offices in New York.

Ali at graduation, sporting a colour-co-ordinated Google Glass (who knew!). Listen to Ali discuss his career at the SICSA PhD conference careers panel.

We caught up with Adam, Andrew and James earlier this year when they represented Google at the Tech Talk by Google engineers.

Neil (complete with sunglasses) visited the school last week, on an unusually sunny day, with colleagues from Adobe.

Thanks to:
AetherWorks LLC.: Robert MacInnis, Angus MacDonald, Allan Boyd and Greg Bigwood.
PlanForCloud: Ali Khajeh-Hosseini and Alistair Scott.
Adobe: Neil Moore.
Google: James Smith, Adam Copp and Andrew McCarthy.
Editorial Support: Anne Campbell

PhD student awarded Google Scholarship

Many congratulations to Bilal Hussain, first year PhD student working with Dr Ian Miguel. Bilal has been awarded a Google Europe Scholarship for Students with Disabilities. We thank Google for their additional support for Bilal’s study and research. The main funding for Bilal’s PhD comes from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and we of course thank them too.

Graduates Return to Computer Science

Three of our alumni Andrew McCarthy, Adam Copp and James Smith, dropped by to say hello last week. They were visiting the University to represent Google at the Tech Talk by Google engineers held in the University Gateway Building.

Many will remember Adam, now a software engineer working at Google in London, as the IT and Computer Science Undergraduate of the Year in 2011. The award, sponsored by BT, was launched to find Britain’s most promising IT student securing him a summer placement at BT’s Research and Development site and a week at a BT European office.

It’s always fantastic to see our alumni and we wish them continued success at Google.

Comp Sci alumni

Alumni from left: Andrew, James and Adam