Could you tell us a little about yourself and about your studies before coming to Imperial?
I am originally from Romania, where I have undergone my high school studies before coming to London for my undergraduate degree. I have always been passionate about computers and what can be achieved with them, and started my programming journey very early, by playing video games. After being just a user in video games, my interest in learning what is behind the scenes was continuously growing, up to the level that I started analysing source codes on my own – and this is how I learnt programming by myself, while also following a natural passion.
After I have developed a few gaming projects on my own and gained the algorithmic thinking, I learnt the theoretical background for programming in high school, which enriched my knowledge and I started understanding fundamental data structures and algorithms and time complexity analysis.
After graduating from high school, I continued my studies at King’s College London, where I hold a First Class degree in BSc Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence. My undergraduate experience was extremely satisfying, and it has provided me with a great background in programming in a multitude of programming languages, good software engineering practices, while also diving into robotics, artificial intelligence and security.
What attracted you to your degree?
I was mostly attracted by the diversity of module options available to students. For MSc Advanced Computing, you are not required to adhere to any specialisation, which means that you are open to study precisely what you are passionate about. It is great to be able to choose from an extensive array of modules, with different difficulty levels and a broad range of subdomains of Computer Science. It is also great for people that already have the experience to be able to study advanced and in-depth courses, which provides the knowledge necessary to be able to become a top researcher or a great software engineer when going into the industry.
What do you enjoy the most?
I very much enjoy the ability to learn about completely different topics from world-leading researchers. I ended up, for example, studying Quantum Computing at the same time as studying Advanced Computer Security, Privacy Engineering, and Machine Learning courses such as Reinforcement Learning and Mathematics for Machine Learning. This ability to gather a great insight into non-related topics which I was interested in was a great way to enhance my knowledge into the computer science domain. In addition, for some courses, such as Machine Learning for Imaging, Reinforcement Learning, Principles of Distributed Ledgers, the coursework were highly practical and they involved a significant amount of programming or machine learning knowledge to be completed, which is always enjoyable if you are passionate into the field.
What do you find more challenging?
The whole MSc Advanced Computing course is challenging, which is expected for such a prestigious course. From my experience, the greatest challenge is time management, which you must be able to plan accordingly and follow your plan in order to be able to dedicate yourself entirely and achieve your goals. While the university staff knows that the people in this course are some of the best in this domain, they make sure that you are constantly evolving and breaching boundaries you did not know existed, while also being under the pressure of time.
Can you tell us about some of your achievements at Imperial that make you proud?
For me, a great achievement was the ability to represent my cohort as the Course Representative. I was able to engage with my colleagues and get insightful feedback from them, which I then presented in Staff-Student meetings. It is very important to maintain a close feedback loop with the staff, which then allows the university to make the appropriate changes to make sure all the students’ needs are satisfied, and everyone enjoys their course.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I enjoy playing tennis when the weather permits, and hit the gym constantly a few days per week, to maintain good health and study balance. My second passion after computing is, however, the music domain, being very interested in perfecting my guitar and singing skills. I enjoy performing contemporary music as a good way to express my feelings and emotions and to also manifest my artistic side, which goes together well with my logical-mathematical side.
What is your advice for prospective students?
From my perspective, everyone has a different view regarding their experience during their degree. Being a Master’s degree for students with a strong computer science background, it is open for the prospective students to choose a path that best represents their interests, and also follows from what their background prepared them better for. However, even if you have not studied a specific topic and would like to take the advanced version of it, it is still possible to take it as one of your modules and perform great at it, as long as you are passionate about it.
What are your plans after completing your degree?
I plan on continuing to learn and keep myself up to date with the research in the computer science domain, while also starting a venture and using my expertise to build tools which make life easier, automate processes, and enhance the social interaction between people, while also offering a dose of happiness and inner satisfaction.