One of the best things about the School is that we get practical as well as the theoretical knowledge that helps us to learn more about the real work that is ongoing in the computer science industry.
I am Somdip Dey, a taught master’s student in the School of Computer Science, at The University of Manchester pursuing an MSc in Advanced Computer Science. The Computer Science master’s courses at Manchester are highly regarded and many consider them to be among the best Computer Science courses in the world. Along with the academic reputation of the University, another reason for choosing Manchester is that the city is very welcoming and affordable for students (compared to other places in the south of the UK, such as London). Since arriving in the UK, I have found that people here are quite humble and kind and I have always been able to find someone to help whenever I needed to. To give you a better insight into the life of a master’s student at The University of Manchester, I’d like to share a typical week in my life here.
Saturday starts with a trip to the gym, there are many fitness centres and athletic institutions in Manchester, many of which are affiliated to the University where as a student you can get a significant discount on membership fees. If you want to let off some steam or just keep fit, it’s always fun to visit the fitness classes. Whether you prefer Zumba or Yoga, there’s always a huge variety to choose from. After some heavy exercise it’s time to go for lunch! The best way to satisfy your appetite is by heading to the Curry Mile in Rusholme. If you’re fond of Indian food, or any kind of Asian food, then Rusholme is your apt destination, however, if you want something else then there are plenty of places for you to visit and try out different cuisines across Manchester.
After a scumptous meal, it’s time to study. Since there are no classes on weekends, you may study in the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons or at the Main Library. If you need to work in the School then you can get an out-of-hours pass which allows you to enter the School beyond the usual working hours. After a few hours of studying I need to take some rest. The best way to take my mind off studies is by going out with friends. There are lot of different places in Manchester to visit, such as museums, theatres and shopping centres - you’ll never run out of options!
I also like to indulge in some social or philanthropic work like visiting the elderly, doing voluntary fund-raising or providing food to the homeless. I volunteer at the soup kitchen which is organised by a nearby church and the Students Union where we cook and serve food to the homeless and those in need in the local area. After a tiring day, it is time for bed and the time to recharge for Sunday!
For me, Sunday is the time to buy groceries and do some other shopping. Most shops are situated in the city centre and there is a wide variety to choose from. Many places in Manchester also offer a student discount; you just need to ask for it.
When the week begins on Monday, life seems to get even busier but don’t be overwhelmed by all the things you’ve got to do. I always manage and schedule my time accordingly in order not to waste any of it. The education style in India is very different to the UK. Education here in the UK is quite independent in nature; you need to study and do your work on your own, but don’t worry as you’re never fully alone. If you wish to seek any help or support, the School of Computer Science has the best tutors on board who are willing to guide you in every possible manner. One of the best things about the School is that we get practical as well as the theoretical knowledge that helps us to learn more about the real work that is ongoing in the computer science industry.
I also look out for various work opportunities that I can fit around my studies, such as part-time or volunteering work. The University has an outstanding Careers Service, which provides you with support and suggestions with regard to the application process and job interviews. They help you with building your CV, writing cover letters and completing application forms. The Careers Service arranges many events and workshops for students to apprise them about the current situation in the job market and also offer advice on how to navigate the selection process for particular companies. They also run a mentoring program which allows you to get a mentor from a particular sector in industry who will guide you through opportunities for an ideal job.
This Tuesday I had a meeting with my supervisor to discuss progress on my MSc project. This project requires me to find an efficient method to improve the performance of FDTD (Finite Difference Time Domain) algorithms, which is a very popular method used in Physics and electro-magnetism, in such a way that they can be highly efficient to run on GPGPU. I am particularly enthusiastic regarding this project because it gives me the opportunity to work with supercomputers. The School has collaborations with many other reputed Universities in the world. Because of this collaboration, I am able to work on a super-computer (K Computer), which is based at RIKEN, Japan, and also happens to be one of the fastest super-computers in the world. Since I have chosen a pathway in Computer Systems Engineering, the themes on Parallel Computing in Multi-core Era, Mobile Computing and Security have developed my knowledge profoundly in order to work on these super-computers. So do not forget to choose your pathway and themes carefully as it could help you progress well in your MSc project and, of course, in your chosen career.
Although Wednesdays are very busy because I have all my lectures on that day, they are exciting too because you get to learn new things. The amount of industry related practical knowledge that you gain during lectures is really helpful and will prove very useful for future endeavors.
Earlier in the week I found out I was nominated for Best Course Representative Award in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS), University of Manchester’s Student Union Awards. Thursday was the day prior to the awards ceremony and I became very impatient as the excitement and curiosity of about who would win the award set in as there are so many hard-working and talented course representatives in the Faculty. Since most of the course reps are my friends too, the excitement built even more. The work does not stop however, so I still had to focus on my studies and research to carry on progressing.
Ultimately, the big day that I was eagerly awaiting arrived. The award ceremony was in the evening and all my friends and other
representatives were supporting each other. When the time came to announce the winner for Course Rep of the Year in EPS, our hearts stopped! To my surprise, my name was announced and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. I couldn’t even imagine that being a course rep in the School of Computer Science, I would win the award but I reminded myself of Luther Campbell’s quote: “Goodness and hard work arerewarded with respect”. It reinforced my belief that if you do your part, you will get noticed and rewarded even at one of the largest and academically strongest research-led universities in the UK. Winning this award filled me with courage and determination to work even harder to serve the fellow students, and to study hard at the same time.
As you can see, my week gets very busy with all the things that I’ve got to do but ultimately it’s up to me to make the most of all the opportunities that are available here. Of course, I can always choose to relax a little when the weekend arrives. There are loads of opportunities here in Manchester and you only need to decide what’s best for you. The School of Computer Science and The University of Manchester are not just giving me the knowledge required to enhance my prospects and attractiveness to the employers but at the same time they are helping me grow as a person where I am able to help others. I’m really enjoying my time here in Manchester and I feel proud to be studying here. If you are still making up your mind about whether to come to Manchester, then don’t waste time in deciding and live the Manchester experience yourself!
Since writing this article Somdip Dey has finished his MSc at The University and is now a software engineer at Steanne Solutions Limited.