Samuel Thomas

MSci Computer Science with an Industrial Year, 2021
PhD student, University of Birmingham and University of Melbourne

Originally from Cardiff, Wales and currently based in Berlin, Germany

Having spent time working in industry after completing my undergraduate degree, I decided to return to university and study for a PhD. Continuing under the supervision of my Masters project supervisor I am looking at how we can design efficient algorithms for big data.

This is predominantly in two forms; one where I focus in designing space-and-time-effective streaming algorithms, and another where I focus on discovering lower bounds for parameterised complexity problems. As a remote student currently in Berlin, I spend a lot of time communicating with various academics on video calls and discussing my notes regularly with my supervisor.

How has your career developed since graduating?

Whilst I enjoyed my time as a software engineer in industry, I constantly found myself missing the autonomy that came from studies. I learn well on my own and enjoy the freedom that research gives me to learn what it is I'm interested in, and the flexibility to decide my own working pattern.

Samuel thomas

Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?

I visited Birmingham on a number of Open Days before applying and I was particularly attracted by the School of Computer Science building and facilities. It struck me as unique amongst other universities I’d visited that the facilities available to computer science students weren't available to students of other disciplines. This meant that there was always someone nearby to ask question to and to learn from. I remember, also, speaking to a previous student at one Open Day about their second year game design project and being excited at the prospect of undertaking it myself.

What are your fondest memories of the University?

My fondest memories strangely enough came in my final year. Despite covid lockdowns, I feel that it was during this time that I forged my closest friendships and felt as though I knew what I wanted to do in my life. I thoroughly enjoyed my research project and will be forever indebted to my housemates of the time for the late-night conversations and debriefs we would have about our work.

What advice would you give to Computer Science students?

Try to stick to normal working hours. In first year I had an attitude of ‘do the activities I want and then fit in work around that’. It wasn't until I took a year's internship to work for a company that I discovered how much happier and productive I am when I work at consistent and reasonable hours. Somehow it always feels to me like I have more time in the day when I have a consistent structure.

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