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Award-winning ideas


Ieuan Higgs, a BSc Computer Science with Industrial Year graduate, is the winner of 2018's national SatelLife Challenge – a competition for ideas on how satellites could improve life on Earth.

The SatelLife Challenge supports the development of science, data handling and technological skills, complementing the government's Year of Engineering campaign. The campaign champions careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the next generation.

A winning combination

Computer science appealed to Ieuan because it gave him a real sense of possibility. He felt it would allow him to achieve things that impact a wide range of people. The technical ability and creativity needed to study computer science proved to be a winning combination for Ieuan.


"One reason I chose to study at Reading was the flexibility provided by the Department to switch from a three year degree to a degree with a year in industry . This opened up the opportunity to go on a placement, which helped me to learn as well as alleviate some financial stress." 

Another reason Ieuan chose Reading was its location. It was useful being so close to London, while still being able to enjoy a large, green campus.

"I think it's important to connect with an environment that suits you, and I found that Reading was a good match for me at this stage in my life."

Fostering a fresh perspective

For Ieuan, the Human Computer Interaction module in his second year really stood out, as it provided him with a new perspective on technology and its application. 

"I was aware of these things before, but doing the module made me realise that I'm beginning to have both the insight and ability required to create some new technologies myself. It especially made me realise that I could start making things to really impact people's lives."

Rising to the challenge

Ieuan's winning idea in the SatelLife Challenge was a tool that would map change in urban areas using satellites and algorithms, identifying current building sites and potential areas for development. 

"I came up with my idea after combining my knowledge of current space technology with my areas of interest in computer science. I used this knowledge to form a realistic business solution I thought would be both useful and achievable. 

"I've had an interest in space technologies since I was young and I think there's something special about space that is really good at sparking people's imagination."

With the ever-growing demand for evolving and improving in science, Ieuan believes it's natural that he has fallen into tech. It's also why he's willing to jump at any related opportunities. He advises:

"As a student you should maintain a constant interest in things going on around you. It gives you a set of tools and provides information that you can use to solve problems more effectively." 

Ieuan was able to apply his interests and passions for the SatelLife Challenge, but winning came as a massive shock. 

"This unexpected result has given me the confidence to continue researching and working on my ideas in my spare time." 

Applying the theory

For his placement, Ieuan worked as a Broadcast Engineer at Evertz Microsystems.

"Fortunately, it was close enough to Reading that I could continue living with my friends from the University. I found that my degree set me up nicely with a strong background of knowledge and skills to begin my placement – especially the programming, databases and design-related content." 

The placement taught Ieuan a whole new set of skills that he could re-apply during his final year. He believes that his year in industry has been a valuable experience and would recommend it to any students considering one.*

Looking to the future

Ieuan has many ideas for what he would like to do post-graduation. He works on projects in his spare time and hopes they will turn into something bigger. 

"I've enjoyed my time at university and may continue into postgraduate study. However, I would also like to start my own software company – I suppose I'll have to wait and re-assess my situation and see which opportunities are available to me when the time comes."   

Read about the BSc Computer Science with Industrial Year course

Learn about previous placement opportunities and who we work with
*For information about securing and completing a placement for your industrial year, please visit our Important Information page.

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