Dan Taylor graduated from BSc in Computer Science and Cybernetics from the University of Reading in 2000 and now works for JTL Ltd.
'It's almost ten years since I started my degree in Computer Science and Cybernetics at the University of Reading, and I don't think I've ever regretted my decision to do the course, in fact, I couldn't be happier about it.
During my time at the department I learned a huge amount and had loads of fun, especially with my final year project - an autonomous model helicopter which, last time I looked, was still hanging in the Cybernetics foyer.
When I graduated in 2000 I went straight into a KTP with a company called JTL Systems, who make control electronics for supermarket refrigeration systems. The aim of my KTP programme was to use AI technologies to predict faults in fridges and thus prevent waste and protect the public health. Working full time at the company but with continual contact with my supervisor at the University I had the chance to work with cutting-edge technologies such as Neural Networks, Evolutionary Algorithms and Artificial Immune Systems. My project budget also covered a trip to Hawaii to present a paper on my work at one of the largest International AI conferences ( WCCI 2002).
At the end of the two year KTP project (which was a runner up for best project of the year - beaten by another Reading graduate!) I went to work at JTL full time and I'm still there now. I kept up my academic links via my PhD, which I've been doing in my spare time and should finish some time in 2007.
My three years at Reading and the subsequent two years working with the University on my KTP project have left me perfectly qualified for a great career in industry. I'd recommend Cybernetics to anyone!'
Find out more about Dan's interests at www.logicalgenetics.com
Kieran D'Archambaud graduated from MEng in Computer Science and Cybernetics from the University of Reading in 2004 and now works for Rare Ltd.
'When I was younger I always enjoyed playing computer games and I often thought about making them myself. After finishing my GCSEs I knew that I wanted to continue my education but wasn't sure what career I wanted to pursue. Maths and Physics had been two of my favourite subjects during my GCSEs and I knew they would allow me to get into most jobs so I chose them. Not really knowing what to expect I chose Computing as the last of my A Level subjects. This particular course focused a lot on programming, where the alternative option of IT did not.
During this time in my life I started to become interested in artificial intelligence and the possibilities that this created in computing and robotics. I wrote a few simple games with AI opponents. While I found this really good fun I thought that there wasn't a future in it apart from finding it fun to do myself.
Before I knew it, it was time to start thinking about the next step I would have to make in my life once I had finished my time at College. Feeling sure that I wanted to do robotics with a focus on programming I started searching for the course that was right for me. When I attended an open day at Reading University, I knew that this University had the course for me. I felt so sure of this fact my two top choices on my UCAS form were for the same course at Reading University, Computer Science and Cybernetics .Luckily I got the grades I needed in my A Levels to get on my first choice of University course, MEng Computer Science and Cybernetics at the University of Reading. During my first year of this course I was able to take slightly more challenging versions of the computing courses as I had background knowledge of programming from my College course. I also made sure that I chose all the programming options I could as my desire to learn more about programming would not stop. Also during my time at Reading, I chose options including AI and feedback systems. Little did I know that these choices would be so rewarding later in my life.
When it was time for me to be choosing my final year project I had become a keen gamer and had realised that a job in the computer games industry is not just a fun job, but one that is challenging, rewarding, and has the possibilities of good salaries and benefit schemes. Everything seemed to be clicking into place, a lot of the options I had chosen as part of my degree were suddenly very relevant to the games industry (object oriented programming, AI, feedback systems, computer graphics, search algorithms). Now I needed a relevant final year project that I could use as a demo for getting a job in the games industry. I chose to look at feedback systems in computer games (sound, visual and haptic). This allowed me to create a complete game and investigate all the major areas that have to be addressed when creating a computer game.'
Around Christmas of my final year I sent out letters to a few games companies with my CV attached. Rare Ltd was one of these companies and they replied by offering me an interview. In this interview I demoed a lot of the work, including my final year project, that I had done during my time at Reading University. Just as I was heading off on my Christmas holiday I got a phone call telling me I had got the job. I can't describe how happy I felt. This had been (and still is) my only job interview of my life. Now I just needed to push myself hard to finish my degree to the best of my ability.
I graduated a few months later and in August I started at Rare. When I first started at the company I went into the R&D department where I faced a steep learning curve to bring me up to speed. It was very daunting to see how many talented people there were around me, but I loved the challenge. Around November time an opening on a games team became available. They needed someone to help with the AI for the multiplayer bots in the game. A few months later (Spring of this year, 2005), the game (Conker Live and Reloaded on Xbox) was finished and it went on to sell very well in the shops. I won't try and say that it is an easy job. It is crazy to look back and think about everything I have done in the last year and a half since I graduated, but I find it very rewarding. We are constantly working at the cutting edge of programming techniques and I never go a day where I don't learn something. I am very happy to say that I have never had a day where I have woken up and not wanted to go into work. I love it!"
BEng Electronic Engineering, MEng Electronic Engineering
Richard Thorburn joined the Foundation Year at the University of Reading having studied Drama, Geography and English Language at A Level. Richard then followed the BEng Electronic Engineering course and following his high grades Richard moved onto the MEng course; entailing an extra year at University. Richard says, 'I found the learning atmosphere at Reading was more intimate with smaller class sizes than the other Universities I visited, and that really suited my way of learning. The staff were always approachable and this really helped me, without the excellent teaching and support I would never have been able to achieve the results I did'.
After graduating with a first class honours degree Richard joined Thales UK, a company employing around 70,000 people in 50 countries worldwide. Richard identified that 'my degree at the University of Reading really helped me to hit the ground running and I was recruited by Thales as a Systems Engineer on their 4 year Graduate Programme'. Richard worked on the Watchkeeper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) project in his first year: 'My favourite subject at University was Image Processing and I was delighted to be using my learning from Reading in my everyday role at Thales. Richard is now working with Thales on Satellite Communications (TopFlight SatCom) for the aviation industry, products that allow mobile telephone communication and high speed internet access in-flight for crew and passengers.
Richard summarised that '..the degree course at the University of Reading helped prepare me for the real world of work with an industrial placement and I have also found a great deal of benefit from the innovative addition of alternative courses outside of the subject matter including Law, French and Business Management. I will always look back to my time at The University of Reading with great fondness and a great deal of gratitude for the time the lecturers and tutors invested in me. I find myself in the enviable position of working in a role that I really enjoy and for Thales, a company that I am proud to be a part of. Without the excellent preparation and education that the University of Reading gave me I doubt that I would have ever been able to say that'.
BEng Electronic Engineering and Cybernetics, 2005
MSc in Engineering and Information Sciences 2007
'I came to the University of Reading in 2002 to study BEng Electronic Engineering and Cybernetics. I chose Reading as it gave me the diversity to combine Electronic Engineering, which I had always wanted to study, with various cybernetics modules that interested me.
I was overjoyed to graduate from the course with a first class degree. I had always wanted to work in the renewable energy sector and my degree enabled me soon after to become employed by a Reading based solar energy company called Whitfield Solar in association with the University on a KTP scheme.
I am now responsible for implementing a solar cell tester which draws upon multiple skills I learnt whilst at Reading. In addition I am continuing further education and studying towards an MSc in Engineering with the full support of my company.'