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‘Our Correspondent’, Dr Kate Devlin – BBC Expert Women

Our lecturer, Dr Kate Devlin, was one of 60 experts selected out of over 2000 applicants to take part in a scheme to tackle gender imbalance in the media. Here she talks about her experience.

Tuesday, 4pm, at the BBC Academy: I was so busy chatting with three other women about computers, 3D printing, robotics and counterterrorism engineering that I forgot I was in a radio studio in the middle of a broadcast. I was taking part in the BBC Academy Expert Women day as a participant in the second cohort to be put through their paces at White City. Considering I had started the morning panicking that maybe I didn’t know enough, and that maybe they would think I was a fraud, the training had worked.

In four all-too-short sessions we were shown the ropes, getting a taste of how to confidently share our knowledge and research with a wide audience on TV and radio. But it wasn’t just the new skills that were so fascinating: the twenty-nine other women experts and the industry women training us were among the most interesting I have ever had the pleasure to meet. From astrobiologists to actuaries, and from to vulcanologists to feminist historians, everyone had something compelling to share and the opportunity was there to share it.

Women are vastly under-represented in the media and the Expert Women campaign seeks to redress the gender imbalance. This imbalance is also echoed in our own discipline – computing – where women are often discouraged by the “white male geek” stereotype. It’s estimated that the number of UK technology jobs held by women is just 17%. Seventeen percent! And yet we are all using and interacting with technology daily. Research shows we often assume that because we see stereotypes, we feel we ought to conform to those stereotypes in order to be successful. In other words, if we see a geeky male computer scientist, we think we can only be a computer scientist if we are both geeky and male. Not true! It was women who drove many of the early developments in computing and, hopefully, it will be women who contribute more and more in the future. Through initiatives such as these where women talk about what they do and share it publicly, we hope to encourage other women and girls, and show that a career in computing is both possible and desirable.

Dr Kate Devlin

Happy International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day. Last year i wrote this post about some of the women in our Dept including the wonderful Dr Kate Devlin.

This year I would like to welcome Freida Abtan to Goldsmiths. Freida will be heading up the BSc Music Computing programme and is based in both Music and Computing. In honour of International Women’s Day, Freida has brought our attention to this video by Feminist Frequency, the first installment on a series on tropes in video games. Read more here.

Finally, I want to tell you about my Women in Computing project. On the 27th March we will be offering our women applicants the opportunity to take part in a fantastic Introduction to Arduino workshop here at Goldsmiths. The workshop will be run by Sophie McDonald of MzTek. It’s going to be smashing. So check your inboxes, girls!

Rose

 

Where are they now? Eric Brotto BSc Creative Computing

Eric Brotto,  Account Director at Smile Machine, talks to us about his job, his degree, and how Goldsmiths prepared him for the future.

What are the main roles and responsibilities of your job? I have been at Smile Machine for just over one and a half years. I started out as a Software Developer making creative iPhone and iPad Applications and then was appointed as an Account Director to help raise awareness of the company and grow the business. I regularly meet with clients and write specific briefs to meet their needs.

How did studying at Goldsmiths prepare you the future? The academics at Goldsmiths were top notch, and I really felt the sky’s the limit! I had big ideas about what I wanted to get out of the programme and the professors supported me and enabled me to get to achieve my goals.

Whilst studying at Goldsmiths I created an iPhone App which allows users to simulate the experience of being a rap artist – at one stage it was the number one downloaded App in the Bahamas and neighbouring islands! My professors helped me to develop the App which was seen by my current boss and led to my job at Smile Machine.

Before starting at Goldsmiths I never thought this would have been possible, but the academics were so creative and understood exactly what I wanted to achieve. By working with Goldsmiths Careers Service I was able to secure a job before I graduated and gained valuable work experience at an agency working as a new media co-ordinator.

 What elements of your degree did you enjoy and why? The programme was very interdisciplinary, with the professors working across Computing and Art. Goldsmiths is not just about learning new skills but learning what to do with them and how to be innovative. It was exciting to be part of a creative atmosphere – surrounded by other students with strong ideas of their own.

What are you working on at the moment? I am currently participating in a project exploring how young people can harness the digital revolution and computing. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of young people, from all different backgrounds, and will present the project alongside a number of creative agencies at South by South West.

Is Games Programming at Goldsmiths right for you?

BSc Games Programming is for students who are passionate about games and committed to creating games. Making games requires hard work and difficult problem solving but is also incredibly rewarding. You need to have good technical skills, this is our toughest undergraduate degree, but you also need to love games and to really want to make games. The greatest moments of this degree will be when your game, that you designed and implemented, is finished and you can have the satisfaction of playing it and seeing others playing it, knowing that you made it. If you have the dedication to put in the hours of  hard work to get to that point then this is the degree for you.

Is Business Computing at Goldsmiths right degree for you?

Business Computing is for you if you are passionate about computing technology and how it is transforming our world and businesses. You should relish the challenge of developing a new software application but also be excited about the potential that application has for transforming people’s lives. You should be a creative and innovative individual who can see how the web and mobile apps are changing the way we live our life and want to make your own contribution to that innovation. If you have ever had an idea for an app that you think could change the world or be a mass market success but need to learn the technical and business skills to make it happen, then this is the degree for you.

BSc Games Programming: Careers

If you are considering BSc Games Programming, you probably aren’t in much doubt about what you want to do after you graduate: you want to make video games, and in particular work as a games programmer. That is why we have designed the degree around the needs of an industry that is notoriously difficult to get in to. By giving you the skills that employers need we will maximise your chances of getting a game development job.

This week Mark Hope of games industry recruiter Aardvark Swift came to Goldsmiths to present the results of an industry survey they conducted last year. Programming is far and away the most in demand discipline among games companies, with over half the advertised jobs being for programmers. There is a serious shortage of programmers with the skills required by the games industry and so it is definitely the right path for getting into making games. When games companies are asked what the most important skills are for new programmers, the answer is always the same: C++ programming and Maths. That is why these two skills are the core of the degree. You will do more in depth Maths than any of our other degree programmes, studying the 3D maths that you need as a games programmer, but also how to use that maths to write 3D graphics software. We will also give you experience in programming C++ using industry standard game engines such as Cryengine. The third most important skill was communication and teamwork. That is why we have designed the degree so that, from the very beginning, you will be working in teams to develop games in a working environment that is modeled as closely as possible on a game development studio. Games companies said that they the thing the most important thing they look at when hiring programmers is their portfolio of work. That is why our entire degree is structured around developing that portfolio. Throughout the course you will be developing games, both individually and in teams, using C++ and industry standard development environments and learning how to present these games effectively on your portfolio website. 

We think that most of our graduates will want to become games developers, but you won’t be locked in to the games industry. Games programming is one of the most challenging fields of software development. If you can program games you can program anything and will be able to get jobs in any area of the software industry. This is particularly true of the digital media industry, from app development to interactive advertising, where the graphics and creative skills of games developers are particularly in demand.

 

Business Computing: Careers

An important question for anyone applying to do a university degree is: what jobs can I do once I graduate? That is why we are designing our new BSc Business Computing very much around the needs of the workplace. It is designed to get you jobs in the computing sector that is increasingly central to modern business. The technology sector is one of the fastest moving and innovative in the economy and needs graduates that have the creative and entrepreneurial skills to develop new product ideas but also the technical skills to implement them. This applies to small start up businesses where innovation is at the core of their work but also to large companies that need to be entrepreneurial in order to continue to lead in the market place. 

The mix of business and technology skills you will learn in our degree mean that you are well placed for a number of different jobs in the computing. You could be a software developer whose understanding of the needs of business will make you highly valuable to your employer, or you could be a manager that is able to understand and work with both the business requirements of your company and the technical details of software development. Finally, you will also be well placed to start your own business, where you will initially be responsible for all aspects of the work both running the business and developing the technology.