Student profile - Embedded Systems Engineering

Phil, MEng Computer Science with Embedded Systems Engineering with a year in industry, 2013

Phil, MEng in Computer Science with Embedded Systems Engineering with a year in industry, 2013

Phil chose to study Computer Science as he had an interest in mathematics and problem solving. He was looking to find out how computers work, how computation is performed and how computers can be used to solve problems effectively. So, how have the past five years been at the University of York?

Learning Computer Science

"During my time at York I've been impressed by the content of the course and quality of teaching on offer. While certain years contained compulsory modules, such as foundation modules, the choice of modules was amazing and allowed me to focus my degree on areas of Computer Science which were important and of interest to me.

"I chose Embedded Systems Engineering as I was interested in physical computing, the interaction between software and hardware with the real world. I was looking to learn how the computers embedded in planes, trains and cars are developed to carry out their specialised tasks safely, efficiently and in some cases continuously.

"I really enjoyed the hands-on hardware modules taught in the first and second year, constructing a solution using both hardware and software to solve a particular problem. These modules provided a great introduction to computer architectures and software development. At the same time foundation modules in mathematics provided skills which would become invaluable later in the course."

The Department of Computer Science at York

"I found the lecturers to be extremely knowledgeable and always willing to answer questions and provide assistance where every they could. My academic and later project supervisor was always contactable and extremely helpful in resolving any issues I had.

"I chose to study Computer Science at York after my UCAS interview day. I was impressed by the quality of the facilities, by how friendly all of the staff I met on the day are and the university's excellent reputation. At the start of my degree the Computer Science department which impressed me that day was located on the Heslington West campus and offered some great facilities. While I was away completing my year in industry the department relocated to the new Heslington East campus which brought with it even better facilities. These include improved computer labs with the latest hardware, better equipped (more comfortable) lecture facilities, new areas to work and new places to socialise."

The year in industry

"I would recommend a year in industry to anyone considering a degree course. It provided me with valuable industrial experience which was of great interest to employers during interviews for graduate positions. It helped provide a break between my academic studies while allowing me to save some money, helping to support me when I returned to university. It provided a great focus for my remaining studies and above all was great fun.

"I completed my year in industry with Thales Transport and Security Ltd who work within the rail and road transport domains, providing station management, scheduling and signalling solutions.amongst other services.

"I spent time on various projects which involved database design, front and back-end web development and desktop application development using a variety of languages.

"Having expressed an interest in embedded systems, I moved on to one of their light rail signalling projects which was in the support stage of its life-cycle.

"I completed several modifications for the client and was lucky enough to follow these from their design, through their implementation and testing. I then travelled down to London to meet the client, assisting with the deployment and commissioning of the new software. This involved sitting at the side of a tramway at three o'clock in the morning, watching inputs and outputs to the system change as 35 ton trams trundled through different junctions!"

What did you think to York itself?

"York city centre is a short distance from the campus and there's always something to do. Coming from a small town near Bath in Somerset I was looking for a location with all the amenities of a large city, but which maintains the feel of a small city like Bath and found York to be a really good fit. During the first year, as most students do, I lived on campus which allowed me to make some great new friends before moving into private student housing for the remainder of my degree. During this time I lived in several different areas of York surrounding the university and found the housing, area and local residents really friendly."

What comes next after York?

"Having an interest in Embedded Systems Engineering before starting my course I already had a pretty good idea of what I was looking to do after graduating. This was confirmed throughout my course as I learnt more about Embedded Systems and their development.

"I secured a job before graduation with McLaren, developing embedded software for engine management computers used in Formula One cars.

"As part of the interview process I was asked to supply a portfolio of embedded systems work. The majority of this portfolio was drawn from projects completed as part of my degree including my final year individual project. Additionally I was able to include several personal projects which were completed in my spare time allowing me to demonstrate the knowledge and skills gained during my course."

So would you recommend York to others?

"I would most definitely recommend the University of York to prospective students. The combination of excellent teaching, facilities, support and the wonderful surroundings of the new Heslington East campus combined with its excellent reputation make the University of York Department of Computer Science a great choice in my opinion."

We wish Phil all the best in his new career at McLaren!