The University is located in the centre of Bristol, a thriving, modern city which is home to over 35,000 students. Bristol strikes an unusual balance: it offers all of the facilities of a big city, but is small enough to enjoy living in. Many students and staff who have joined the University over the years have chosen to make Bristol their permanent home. The city's location also provides easy access to London, as well as favourite areas - the countryside, mountains and beaches - in the South West and Wales.
Computing at Bristol is based in a modern building immediately adjacent to one of Bristol's liveliest areas. This houses well-equipped student laboratories, state-of-the-art research laboratories, and staff offices surrounding a large atrium. For most of the day the atrium is a hive of activity, with students meeting, relaxing, discussing project work, or using the wireless internet access. Immediately outside, the streets are full of cafes, shops, bars and clubs, and here life goes on into the small hours. Within ten minutes walk are Bristol's harbourside, Clifton village, and Whiteladies road, all similarly vibrant areas providing a home to thousands of students.
I graduated from Bristol in June 2008 having completed a four year Masters degree: Computer Science and Electronics with Study Abroad. Since graduating I have begun studying for a PhD in computer science within the Machine Learning and Biological Computation group at Bristol. My PhD topic is in the emerging area of 'cloud computing'. The project I am working on forms part of a £15 million research initiative on Large Scale Complex Information Technology Systems which involves researchers from a number of leading universities around the UK. In addition to this collaboration, I also receive input from my industrial sponsor, Hewlett Packard, who provide technical information on systems to which my work could potentially be applied. This additional interaction with industry ensures my research has a practical as well as theoretical aspect.
When I began the process of selecting a university I was initially drawn to the University of Bristol because of the opportunity to spend a year of my degree studying abroad. I had always had a keen interest in travelling so this was a fantastic opportunity that really made Bristol stand out.
Before commencing my studies at University of California San Diego (UCSD) I was initially worried about how I would cope with the different style of education in US universities. However, once I began attending classes I found that the previous two years at Bristol had more than adequately prepared me for my time abroad. One of the biggest differences I found was that, compared to Bristol students, students at UCSD had not gained as much experience of practically implementing theoretical concepts in the first few years of their degree. It was often not until the final years of their degree that they began undertaking larger projects. Since I was taking classes offered to students in later years of their degree this meant that having completed two years at Bristol, where there is a larger emphasis on coursework and practical implementation of theoretical concepts, I was well placed to not only achieve good overall grades in my time abroad but also to ensure that I had adequate time to make the most of the experience.
It was whilst studying abroad that I began to think seriously about continuing my studies after the completion of my degree. On returning to Bristol for my final year of study I discussed my plans to undertake postgraduate study and I was assisted to find courses and a final year project that were relevant to my interests. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an undergraduate at Bristol and consider myself fortunate to have found a PhD at the university.
I chose to study towards an MSc in computer science after two years of working as a research assistant for an economic research centre in Bristol University. After talking to several of my friends, who work as software developers, I found that I was very interested in their work and wanted to pursue a career in software development. I had really enjoyed living in Bristol and working for Bristol University, so when I found out that Bristol University offers a conversion course in computer science, I jumped at the chance of applying for this course.
I found the MSc computer science course very interesting and challenging. I learned many programming languages and became much more competent in general computer knowledge and understanding. During my studies I applied to Research Machines in Abingdon and was offered a Graduate Software Developer's job in the Network Development team. I believe that it was the MSc Conversion Course that allowed me to secure this job.
I recommend this course to anyone interested in computer science and software development as it allowed me to find and secure my dream job.
When I came to the University I knew I wanted to move to the United States upon graduation to pursue a career in animation. With this decision in mind, along with the support of staff, I spent my third year in Texas at Rice University.
I signed up for various computer science units in Texas and took the opportunity to learn new skills such as Digital Photography. Aside from studying, the social life at the University was very active and the weather unbelievably warm. This gave rise to many outdoor events held by the halls of residence. Rice University is an extremely welcoming community; people are friendly, open and out-going. I met people with similar interests, made friends I still keep in touch with and received constant guidance from my colleagues and University staff.
The experience as a whole, although challenging at times, was unforgettable, extremely enjoyable and worth all of the effort. I have shared my experiences with friends in Bristol; it has made me more confident and open-minded, which in turn has made me a better student and has had a fantastic influence in helping me attain high grades in my final year.
Nikita has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times as part of their Working Hollywood series of articles:
Before I started my computer science degree at Bristol by comparison with many others on the course with me I had relatively few technical computer skills. By the time I graduated I'd learnt about a whole variety of technologies, developed good programming skills in several computer languages, gained experience working with others, and much more.
I had originally applied for a three year BSc in computer science at Bristol but decided to change onto the four year MEng course during my second year. The opportunity to work in a group to design and develop a computer game during my third year looked too good to miss. Although, now I've graduated, I'm not working in computer game development I gained a wide-range of extremely useful skills during that and many other projects which, now I've graduated I am finding invaluable.
After graduating I went to work for business and technology consultancy Detica in their Computer Forensics division and have since been involved in such diverse areas of computing as supporting legal teams prosecuting cases of e-crime, developing decryption software, and evaluating data security systems for mobile computers.
The company I work for specifically singles out Bristol's computer science graduates as particularly employable which I think, given that I also had a great four years at Bristol, says it all.