Could you tell us a little about yourself and about your studies before coming to Imperial?
I'm from Germany and studied Informatics before. My undergraduate studies exposed me to the fundamentals of various computing areas. Further, I gained some practical experience in data science and software engineering.
Since I felt enthusiastic about the more advanced fields of computing, especially those that directly improve our daily life, my decision to pursue a postgraduate course was quickly made. Moreover, since my BSc. thesis sparked my interest in doing research, I aimed to study a degree with a substantial research component and ideally, at a University with renowned research staff. Hence, I chose to apply at Imperial College London.
What attracted you about the MSc Advanced Computing?
The breadth of computing fields one can select modules from.
The course allows students to take modules across distinct fields such as machine learning, security, or software engineering. Whereas other degrees are a great fit if you prefer to specialise within one particular area, this degree allows you to explore multiple different ones.
The MAC degree was the perfect choice for me since I was not exactly sure whether I'd like to focus on one specific area and if so, which one that would be. After my undergraduate studies, too many fields seemed to be interesting to me.
Fortunately, since the course consists of two taught terms, you can still decide to exploit one area in the second term after exploring multiple ones in the first one. For example, I took the Mathematics for Machine Learning module in the first term among other modules that were not related to machine learning (ML) and then decided to choose further ML modules in the second term, such as Probabilistic Inference.
What did you enjoy the most?
The individual project.
Even before I received my project assignment, I was amazed at the sheer number of very exciting projects announced that dealt with open research questions. I met with more than ten potential supervisors before deciding which project I should give preference to. Moreover, the module requires you to do independent research. You are not given predetermined tasks as in typical coursework, and you have a lot of freedom to pursue the ideas you find most interesting. I think it's no exaggeration to say that the experience is very similar to the life of a doctoral student.
What did you find more challenging?
Depending on the modules you take, you may find yourself temporarily inundated with coursework. On the other hand, you will learn to set priorities among your tasks. Also, you likely foster strong ties with your colleagues since a problem shared is a problem halved.
Can you tell us about some of your achievements at Imperial that are make you proud?
I was elected to be one of the academic class representatives and involved in communicating student feedback to course staff and attending staff-student committees. Working on ideas to improve the students' experience felt deeply rewarding to me. For example, one of our achievements was that the instructor of a brand-new course created an additional exercise sheet with questions on topics that students found particularly challenging. It made me proud that we were able to help students to deepen their knowledge.
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy electronic music production. Since the pursuit of this hobby, like my studies, involves a computer, I compensate for sitting in front of my monitor all day long by going to the gym and meeting friends as often as possible.
ICL has a lot of fun societies, including Musictech, which focuses on music production and DJing. I strongly recommend that you try the student clubs as they offer an excellent opportunity to practice your hobby and get in touch with students from other courses.
Do you have any advice for prospective students?
Mingle with your classmates and make friends. Since this is a one-year MSc degree, you may sometimes feel a little rushed and forget that you are surrounded by like-minded people with whom you share many interests. All in all, they strive for a career in the same profession, whether academic or industrial. Besides, ICL, in general, is an incredibly diverse place in terms of its students' backgrounds. In case you have to choose between spending time with colleagues and cracking the bonus points of your recent coursework, the former might make you happier in the long run.
What are your plans after completing the degree?
At the moment, I am planning to gain some practical experience in machine learning and then to pursue doctoral studies. As mentioned above, I think that the course prepares you well for an academic career, which is why I am delighted to have completed it.