Category Archives: Careers

Staff profile: Dr Elaheh HomayounVala

In this post, we meet Dr Elaheh HomayounVala, a lecturer in Computer Science at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research looks at how people interact with technology and how to adapt technology to needs and preferences of people.

Growing up in Iran, Elaheh’s passion for tech began in high school, when she would travel by bus to one of the first computing companies in the city to study IT. She later became one of the first women in the country to graduate with a master’s in Philosophy of Science.

“The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been finding the right career path for me. When I was at school most of our teachers advised us to study medicine or electrical engineering, but I knew that I wanted a career that would allow me the flexibility to be a wife and a mother as well, and computing offered that.

“While I enjoyed my undergraduate degree in Computer Science, I had other interests I wanted to explore – like psychology and the humanities – which was why I chose Philosophy of Science as my master’s subject. It was a really new programme and I was one of only two women in a class of 10 students”

When she moved to London, she undertook her PhD at King’s College. Elaheh combined her tech skills with her interests in people and psychology to begin researching user modelling and personalisation – looking at how people interact with computers and how technology can be adapted to suit both individuals and groups.

“I like the unpredictability of humans as users of computers, and I’m very interested in how we can personalise technology to suit such diverse users. It was a relatively new field when I began, so I’m proud that I recognised early on that this was going to be an increasingly popular area – 15 years on many big companies are really investing in personalisation.”

As part of the Goldsmiths Computing team, Elaheh firmly believes that students should have the opportunity to use their computing skills in the areas that interests them.

“One of the biggest misconceptions about Computer Science is that it’s only suitable for people who love maths and are very techy and therefore that it can’t have anything to do with fields like art or psychology. That is completely untrue. Areas like Human Computer Interaction rely on a multidisciplinary team, with computer scientists working alongside graphic designers and psychologists.

“One of the best things about the Computing department at Goldsmiths is that people working here come from all kinds of different backgrounds. We have students who are interested in management and entrepreneurship or artificial intelligence and medicine and they combine those passions with technical skills. What we’re showing our students is that just because you’re interested in more than one field of study, you don’t need to choose between them. You can use computing skills to support you in any area you care about.”

As technology increasingly intersects with every element of our lives, Elaheh believes it is becoming even more important to redress the balance between men and women in the tech sector.

“Technology is changing the world we live in and more than that, it is changing the world our children will live in. We need both men and women to help shape that world. We add our own perspectives – as sisters, mothers, wives. That’s not to say we have a better perspective, but we all benefit from considering lots of different views, particularly regarding ethical issues surrounding areas of computing like artificial intelligence, which will have such a big impact on future generations.”

As her own daughter prepares to start her undergraduate degree in Computer Science at King’s College London (where she herself began her PhD 18 years ago), Elaheh has some pertinent advice for young women everywhere who are wondering if tech is for them.

“Start by thinking about yourself. Know what your interests are and what you enjoy doing. Have a look at the range of jobs available now but also at where future trends are likely to go – you will enter the job market in a few years’ time and computing is always changing so can you imagine yourself working in any of these future trends?

“But most importantly, remember it’s okay not to be sure. You can start your journey and adapt it along the way. The flexibility offered in Computer Science will allow you to make your own unique career path.”

This article was adapted from an interview published in the University of London’s online magazine, London Connection.

Hack your Future

Calling employers and students! Hackathon meets careers event at Goldsmiths

When? Wednesday 13th February, 2 to 6pm

Where? Goldsmiths College, New Cross, London

What? 4 hours of challenges and building cool stuff


  • Be part of yet another amazing event brought you by student society extraordinaire Hacksmiths with the opportunity to check out potential employers and chat with our Careers Department
  • Build fun projects with like-minded people in an informal environment
  • Try out new, exciting tech and challenge yourself
  • Book your space here:


  • See the freshest and brightest Computing minds in action
  • Create challenges to bring out the skills your company is looking for, using your own tech and expertise
  • Invest in your company’s future whilst helping our students with theirs
  • Be part of a unique and exciting event hosted in a world-leading visionary and creative environment

Creativity at its core: work for Goldsmiths Computing


Goldsmiths Computing is recruiting for a number of posts including lectureships. Professor Robert Zimmer, head of the computing department, shares what it’s like to work here.

What’s the computing department at Goldsmiths like?
Surprising. For one thing, most of our staff have creative practices outside of, but frequently related to computing: they’re musicians, artists, social activists, and writers. If someone was wandering around the corridors and asked to guess what kind of academic department we’re in, they probably wouldn’t guess computing. But we are computer scientists, honest. The work we do is significant on the world stage, published in the best journals and presented at the best conferences.

What kind of research does this mix of disciplines lead to?
Lots of what we do involves integrating ideas across different disciplines and world views. In one project with Imperial College, we are helping people understand the way proteins dock. This could be a dry subject, but we use techniques from games and 3D digital art to produce visualisations for scientists and to aid pupils’ learning.

In another, we are helping people collectively learn how to play music using a hybrid of audio-visual and social media techniques. In a third, we put an enormous man-made sun in the middle of Trafalgar Square. We also designed software with embedded machine learning, enabling users to build their own real-time interactive systems, including musical instruments.

Does this inter-disciplinary view of computing affect teaching?
From the very first day on their course, we encourage students to take ownership for their own projects as a piece of personal work. Students learn basic principles, but they mostly learn while they are creating things.

What kind of students does this kind of computing attract?
Brilliant. Independent. Unusually diverse. We draw a lot of our students from London and we naturally inherit a great deal of cultural diversity from the city. We are particularly proud of the prominence of women in the department. We have more than twice the average percentage of women on our degree courses, but we can and will do better.

We have a women in computing scholarship scheme for undergraduates, and we run events in our welcome week for new female students. We are active in national networks for women in Stem subjects, and our head of department is one of the two co-chairs of the Goldsmiths Athena SWAN team, working to ensure gender equality across the institution.

How else do you try to broaden the reach of computing education?
We have a mission to widen access both locally and globally. Locally, we work with London schools and further education colleges to enable inner-city pupils to find their way to university.

Globally, we have been working on distance learning initiatives for over 20 years. We are the provider of the undergraduate computing programmes for the University of London International Academy. Through that, we have educated thousands of students around the world.

Over the last few years, that global reach imperative has led us increasingly down a path of online provision. We have run MOOCs (massive open online courses) on a number of platforms, teaching subjects stretching from data science to deep stack web development, and machine learning for artists. These have already reached over 200,000 learners. We expect this to grow quickly and are now expanding the department to help support the growth.

What online provision have you got coming up?
We are very excited about our next MOOC, which we think will be one of the world’s first to cover virtual reality. This will be led by our lecturer Dr Sylvia Xueni Pan.

SylviaPanSylvia is a good example of the kind of lecturers we have. Growing up in Beijing, she went on to do a PhD and post-doctoral research in virtual reality at UCL, then joined us at Goldsmiths.

She’s interested in creating empathic social experiences in VR that are immersive and engaging, and she uses these experiences in training and education, therapy, and social neuroscience research. She has, for example, been using VR to train GPs to deal with (virtual) patients’ unreasonable demands for antibiotics. She also uses VR as a research tool for social scientists, and brings social science research to VR.

Her work has been featured in BBC Horizon, New Scientist and the Wall Street Journal. All of this thinking will inform the VR section soon to appear on the online study site, Coursera.

How did you get to be the department you are?
The department development began in 2001 when the idea of “the digital” was all over Goldsmiths, as it was all over everywhere else. It seemed a great time to build a computing department that played to Goldsmiths’ core strengths in arts and social analyses and critiques. So that’s what we did. We started joint research, and teaching programmes jointly. It has worked well for us and we are now deeply embedded in all Goldsmiths’ activities.

This worldview still affects much of what we do: as we expand the kinds of computing we explore, we retain a focus on arts, creativity and the social. Therefore, our two newest growth areas – virtual reality and data science – both embrace ideas from, and applications to, arts and social science.

Goldsmiths Computing is currently recruiting for a number of posts including lectureships and a senior data science role.

Queens of Tech: Talks by inspiring c♀mputer scientists


15% of Goldsmiths Computing students are women. Although that’s double the national average for university computing departments, it’s nowhere near good enough. So we’re aiming for 50%. 

Join us for Goldsmiths’ new Women in Computing speaker series. These remarkable computer scientists will talk about their work – and inspire you to be part of the next generation of amazing women in tech.

Thurs 16 June: Dr Kate Devlin _ My Life with the Sex Robots


Dr Kate Devlin is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. This evening she gives a lively overview of her career and her current research on sexual companion robots.

Kate has a background in both archaeology and computer science and has combined these with applied perception, focusing on digital cultural heritage. She is an active campaigner for mental health awareness and also for raising the profile of women in computing.

Where: Room 342, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths
When: 6:30 – 8pm Thursday 16 June 2016
Book your free ticket

Thurs 23 June: Susan Stepney _ Can slime mould compute?

If you have a PC, tablet, or smartphone, you have used a computer. But some people use billard balls, beams of light, sticks of wood, chemicals, bacteria, slime moulds, spaghetti, even black holes, as computers (although some of these only in theory!).

How can these things be computers? What can we do? Can they do things your smartphone can’t? And why are these people using such peculoar things to compute with, anyway?

Susan Stepney is Professor of Computer Science at the University of York, Department of Computer Science. In this informal lecture, she discusses her career and research in non-standard computation, biologically-inspired computational models, and emergent systems.

Where: Room 342, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths
When: 6:30 – 8pm Thursday 23 June 2016
Book your free ticket

Thurs 30 June: Vinoba Vinayagamoorthy _ Inventing the TV of the future


Vinoba is an R&D Engineer for the BBC, working within Broadcast & Connected Systems. She thinks up new types of synchronised companion screen experiences for connected homes. Currently, this ranges from building prototypes for new & archived content to running exploratory studies to gauge how our audiences might react to them.

Previously, Vinoba Vinayagamoorthy focused on building prototypes that combine content on social networks with programmes being played on a connected TV.

Where: Room 342, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths
When: 6:30 – 8pm Thursday 30 June 2016
Book your free ticket

More posts involving Women in Computing

Wed 18 May: Careers in Computing


This May, Goldsmiths Computing students are invited to our Computing Careers fair to meet potential employers and kick-start your career.

When: 1.00 – 4.00pm Wednesday 18th May 2016
Where: RHB 274, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths

As the academic year comes to a close, here is an opportunity for our students to meet employers from across the computing sector, including IT consulting, tech and software development. There will also be a chance to discover opportunities with design studios and other creative roles.

Confirmed exhibitors include Hewlett PackardEuromoneySogeti UK, GradIT, QA Gateway and Vassit.

The event will include:

  1. an exhibition where you can meet employers on a one-to-one basis
  2. a programme of talks to give you an insight into developing relevant skills.

2.00-2.30pm – Shay Olupona, Hewlett Packard
Goldsmiths alumnus Shay Olupona will be discussing his experiences of the Hewlett Packard graduate scheme and his current role within one of HPs most high profile projects. He will give an insight into the industry from his perspective as a recent graduate and offer some advice for students looking to secure their first role, as well as tips for the HP application process.

2.30-3.00pm – Helen Kempster, Goldsmiths Careers Service
Helen will lead this session to help you think about how to put together a successful CV or application for the IT and computing sector. We will look at some examples, and you will get tips on how to make your applications stand out from the crowd.

This event is open to all Computing students, and is a collaboration between the Careers Service and the Department of Computing. If you have any questions about the event, please contact Helen Kempster.


Student profile: Robin Hunter, BSc Creative Computing



Third year BSc Creative Computing student Robin Hunter talks to Blog.Doc about electronic music software, and why Goldsmiths has been the perfect environment for his development.

“Some of the best electronic music in the world was made on Playstations.”

Robin Hunter is explaining to me the background of his latest project. “If you look at what Simon Reynolds calls the Hardcore Continuum – the music that started with acid house in the late 80s, hardcore rave and then later grime and dubstep – this was all made using cheapo electronics and software.”

“But the problem now is that we have industry-standard music production software likeLogic and Ableton. They’re so complex and feature-heavy, it’s like buying a Ferrari just for driving to the shops. If you’re an aspiring musician you have to pay so much for these really powerful systems, but unless you have formal training in how to use it, you’ll barely use all the features. So I’m interested in creating a software that’s much simpler but achieves pretty much the same results.”

Robin’s latest project, OCEAN, has just won the ‘best product’ prize at Generation, Goldsmiths Computing’s undergraduate show. It’s an online music production platform that allows people to work on the same track at the same time, in the same way that Google Docs works.

“The friends I make music with, they live all over London, so it’s not always convenient to meet up. But at the moment it’s a real hassle if you want to use the internet to collaborate on tracks. You have to send these massive files to each other on Dropbox and it takes forever. But with OCEAN, it’s all happening live. I can be working on a track and my friends are listening to it and adding to it at exactly the same time. And it’s really simple and intuitive to use.”

Robin grew up in Chester and did Media, Business and ICT at ‘A’ level. He was really into making music, and studied Music Technology for a year but got disillusioned. “I was making music that was really experimental. I don’t think my teachers understood what I was doing, really. And I looked into studying Creative Sound Design at the Academy of Contemporary Music, but I realised that that would be a one-way ticket to not getting a job.”

“I was also really interested in Media – about how the internet has changed things so much. I thought that’s what I’d probably study at university. But I got interested in the internet pioneers, people like Jack Dorsey, and I realised I didn’t want to just write about these people. I wanted to be one of them.”

“I found Goldsmiths and saw their video about computing courses, which said that Goldsmiths doesn’t teach you computer science by forcing you to create fake accounting systems for imaginary businesses (like most computing courses do), but gives you the freedom to create the things that you are really interested in. So I knew this was the place for me.”

“I saw that James Blake and Blur had been to Goldsmiths, and because so much of the music I love was coming out of London, I really wanted to be here. New Cross isn’t the most beautiful place in the world, but it’s got everything you need for being a student, and it’s really easy to get into central London and Shoreditch.”

So what next? Over the summer, Robin will be a Technology Design for Fjord Fjord contacted Robin after seeing his work on the DoC website and offered him an 8 week intern placement focusing on web development, consultancy and design.

His 2nd year project, DATA GLOBE, was picked to exhibit at last year‘s undergraduate show. It has been the poster images for Generation for the last two years. His tutor, Mick Grierson, was impressed with his work and recommended him to colleagues at Goldsmiths’ Interaction Research Studio. “They got me working on the top floor of the Ben Pimlott Building for one day a week during term time, and then for two months over the summer, and they gave me a great salary. Hopefully working with EAVI this summer will be just as rewarding.”

And after summer? “I love Goldsmiths. I really want to stay, so I’m going to try to get on a Master’s course. I’m also looking at how to take OCEAN to market. I think it’s got real potential, in the same way that Instagram takes the core of what Photoshop does, but makes it instant and really simple to use.”


FREE ONLINE COURSE: Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps


Staff at Goldsmiths Computing have created a free online course that gives a verified certificate in Creative Programming.

Running for the six weeks 3 August – 13 September 2015, the course is for anyone who wants to apply their technical skills to creative work ranging from video games to art installations to interactive music, and also for artists who would like to use programming in their artistic practice.

About the course

Over 5-10 hours/week for six weeks, this Coursera course will teach you how to develop and apply programming skills to creative work. This is an important skill within the development of creative mobile applications, digital music and video games. It will teach technical skills needed to write software that make use of images, audio and graphics, and will concentrate on the application of these skills to creative projects. Additional resources will be provided for students with no programming background.

Course syllabus

  • Week 1: Introduction: sonic painter
  • Week 2: Interactive D/VJ app
  • Week 3: Music player and sensor controlled visualiser
  • Week 4: Game with physical modelling and synthesis
  • Week 5: APIs accessing and processing social media data
  • Week 6: Music machine

Course format
The course will consist of 2 elements: the development of technical skills for software design using a range of media, and the development of creative work that applies these skills. Each week will consist of:

  • a lecture on a technical topic (e.g. writing image or audio processing software)
  • a lecture on creative skills related to the technical topic (e.g. how to create better images through photography / editing or how to create more effective audio) as well as suggestions on project development.
  • a set of exercises to practice the technical and creative skills covered in the lecture
  • week-by-week guidance for working on your creative projects
  • an additional lecture for students with no programming background.

Most students are expected to have some background in programming and/or computer science, and some experience of (possibly extra curricular) creative work. However, the course is also suitable for students new to computer programming but with a strong arts background, and a desire to develop skills in creative applications development.

Your instructors will be Goldsmiths’ Dr Marco GilliesDr Matthew Yee-King and Dr Mick Grierson.