While a student at secondary school, Marty Sweet was heavily involved in the setup and operation of school network and educational technologies, designing user facing systems utilised by thousands of staff and students. Today, Marty is the founder of a cloud consulting company called Omnistratus and is using expertise gained through his Computer Science degree at the University of Reading to deliver Teach Stream. This platform is helping schools across the UK deliver secure online learning for students during the pandemic.
Passion for computer science
Marty’s hands-on experience at school made choosing further study in computer science an “easy choice” and he soon made a visit to Reading.
“I attended an Open Day, and found the Department of Computer Science session really enjoyable. This, combined with the spacious, green campus and pleasant accommodation instantly made me feel like Reading was the correct choice.”
Enrolling on the BSc Computer Science with Industrial Year, Marty spent a year at The Financial Times. Here he worked in the Cyber Security team, gaining valuable real-life experience to complement his studies.
“While on my industrial year I learnt a great amount about agile working practices, security best practices and modern IT architectures.”
After returning to Reading in his final year, Marty’s development was clear, and he went on to be awarded the highest overall grade in the year, with his final year project contributing largely to this.
“My final year project aimed to solve a missing component at the time in the AWS product line, adding a configurable replication strategy to the existing DynamoDB service using serverless components such as DynamoDB streams, S3, API Gateway and Lambda.”
Great career prospects
As well as this recognition for his work, Marty identifies several highlights from his time at Reading both in and outside of the classroom, which equipped him with the business acumen to set up his own company.
“I found great value in the Student Enterprise module, a cross-departmental module with the Henley Business School, which focussed on entrepreneurship.
“Studying Computer Science provides great career prospects. It covers such a broad scope meaning there is all manner of roles to get started in the industry.
“It goes a long way to put the time into developing your skills yourself, creating products and trying out new technologies and practices. Along with reading whitepapers and books to further expand your knowledge about the field, this can help you stand out from the crowd.”
Supporting those in need during the pandemic
As the first UK lockdown forced schools to adapt to remote ways of teaching, Marty understood the need for a virtual learning platform that could provide a safe and secure environment for students.
“I did some research with schools who I already had existing connections with, and it turned out there was a lack of products that could deliver virtual lessons whilst meeting safeguarding requirements.
“I decided to create a safe learning platform that was capable of handling a classful of students, and was simple to use.
“Teach Stream is specifically designed for secondary schools and is built with simplicity in mind – there are minimal training requirements and all teachers need to do is schedule the lesson from their web browser, invite their students and start teaching.
“Teach Stream puts students’ privacy and safety first. Students don’t have the option to send their webcam like other virtual meeting platforms, but their audio can still be requested by the teacher for enhanced interaction.
“It gives the power back to the teacher, enabling the clearing of the chat discussion, along with muting and removal of selected students should the need arise.
“Students don’t need to sign up to the platform, instead when they join a lesson they must verify their school email address via a confirmation code helping ensure traceability and preventing unauthorised access to lessons. You can also record lessons and have other teachers join as moderators.”
Marty is thrilled to have developed a system which is helping so many people to continue to access education during the pandemic. Teach Stream is currently supporting 10,000 students and teachers online.
“It’s great to see so many people using the platform and being able to continue learning despite the challenges of the pandemic.
“During my time working in IT, I have developed countless products and projects of which some gain traction and some don’t. The best thing is when lots of people start using your solution and have positive experiences with it.”