1. Why this program? Why Imperial?
While I already had some coding experience, I was largely self-taught and I wanted the opportunity to take a formal structured course to build a good foundation in computer science. I was doing a social science course for my undergraduate degree at the time, so this course seemed like the perfect match, given that they were willing to accept students from all academic fields. Imperial has an extremely strong reputation in science and technology, which I thought made it the perfect place to be doing a computer science degree!
2. What did you do before the program?
I was studying Human, Social and Political Science at Clare College, University of Cambridge.
3. What coding experience did you have when you started?
I first learnt how to code in secondary school, and I had been coding on and off since then. Some projects that I worked on including developing Flash games and making web apps. My most notable project was making a ticketing system for an event I was organising at university. However, most of my coding was self-taught, and I mainly learnt through searching online to solve specific problems so my level of understanding of various concepts was quite uneven. I wanted to get a more comprehensive understanding of programming and computer science, which was why I thought it would be a good idea to take a formal structured course.
4. What did you like best about the program?
The opportunity to perform serious research during our individual project. Before I started the program, I didn’t think that I would enjoy doing research very much. The individual project completely changed my opinions. I had the opportunity to work with an unconventional image sensor and develop a method and program that enabled us to use it to perform digit recognition; this was something which had not been done on that sensor up to that point! I was very fortunate to have had extremely dedicated and passionate supervisors (Paul Kelly and Sajad Saeedi) who helped me learn about what it means to do computer science research.
5. What did you find most challenging about the program?
I personally found getting used to the math notation and terminology the most challenging part of the program. Coming from a social science background (rather than a science or engineering background), I was not used to seeing concepts expressed in a mathematical way. For example, instead of saying do something x times, the lecture slides would have it written as a summation. It ultimately got better with time, effort and helpful friends, and I am now much more comfortable around math notation!
I think it’s important to remember that everyone on this program will have different strengths depending on their background; while I didn’t have much experience on the mathematics side, I definitely had more coding experience than some of the scientists and mathematicians! The main thing is not to be intimidated, and just learn what you need to learn along the way!
6. What did you learn or do that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of the research that I had the opportunity to do which is now in the process of being published!
7. What was your ideal next step as the program was completing and what are you doing now?
I have returned to Singapore to complete my national service. I am currently doing software development as part of my role in the Singapore Army.
8. Anything else you would like to tell people who are considering this program?
Don’t be intimidated by the program! When they say that the program is suitable for students from all undergraduate subject fields, they really mean it. There were a significant number of us who were from Arts backgrounds like Law, Political Science and so on, as well as those who had never done any coding before starting the course. Nonetheless, by the end of the first few weeks, we were all at pretty much the same level because they do a really good job of making sure that everyone quickly develops a strong foundation.