Octavio Vazquez Mendoza graduated MSc Data Science & Analytics 2017

Living the dream: How I Ended Up Studying Abroad at UCC on MSc Scholarship

Octavio thought studying at a post graduate level abroad was out of reach, but thanks to a full scholarship he’s living his dream and pursuing Data Science & Analytics at University College Cork…

If someone had told me a year ago, that today I would be studying a master’s degree abroad, I simply wouldn’t have believed it. I had other plans on my mind that were not even close to studying at post-graduate level, but more so, I thought it was impossible because of the amount of money it would require.

One day, while I was working, I received an email that described an opportunity that contained exactly what I needed to keep studying. This opportunity was a scholarship to study a master’s program in Ireland at University College Cork (UCC). The scholarship covered all the possible fees, it also included money for living expenses, but only one Mexican was going to be able to earn it and I only had a couple of days to send my documents. So I quickly prepared everything because I had absolutely nothing to lose and also it was a once in lifetime chance.

To make a long story short, I got the scholarship and I chose to study the MSc in Data Science and Analytics, a field becoming increasingly relevant for any industry and a fascinating topic.

Cork and Ireland have surprised me, not just because the city itself is gorgeous and the weather is not as cold as I expected, but it’s because of the people that live here; they are extremely kind and warming. UCC has great lecturers and beautiful campus: magnificent buildings, a river flowing across the complex and green areas all around you, and I’m simply mentioning some of its great aspects.

Getting a scholarship, like the one that I’ve just described, is no longer something impossible, the truth is, it’s becoming more usual than what you might expect, so usual that it’s more probable that you’ll find about it by email, just like me. Universities and governments from all over the world are increasing the number of opportunities for foreign students to study a postgraduate level at their countries. So right now, the issue isn’t if you can apply for it, the issue is, where do you want to go and what do you want to study!

His story can also be found at: Click Here

Eimear Crotty, Final Year BSc Computer Science

Eimear Crotty

Eimear Crotty – Undergraduate
Talks of her Work Placement in MIT, Boston


On April 16th of this year, I moved to Boston for the summer. I was both excited and terrified to leave Ireland for 21 weeks, but the trip was one to remember.

Working at MIT was, at the same time, thrilling and exhausting. I worked in the “Network Coding and Reliable Communications Group” in the “Research Laboratory of Electronics”, implementing an atomic algorithm for large-scale distributed systems. Research, I found, is a discipline that requires a lot of self-drive. Not only did I have to teach myself different programming languages, such as Golang and C++, but there was a certain level of maths involved, way past the level I had achieved to date. The difficulty of the work was softened somewhat by the atmosphere on campus. MIT students have certainly mastered the “work hard, play hard” way of life.  Their ‘hacks’ are famous across Boston, some of which included somehow putting a police car on the dome (Dunkin’ Donuts box and all) and measuring the Harvard bridge using a fraternity pledge (it’s 364.4 smoots ± 1 ear if you’re wondering). The wide-spread campus itself allowed for much-needed walks to clear my head. During my lunch hour I would stroll through the campus, along the “Infinite Corridor” (don’t get excited, its length is actually finite), on the green at Killian Court or sometimes to the gorgeous Baker library hidden underneath the famous dome.

Another reason why I loved my time away was Boston itself. While at first it was a whole new world, full of identical-looking streets and strange accents, by the time I left it had become a second home. I knew the neighbourhoods, each unique, from colonial Beacon Hill to prestigious Back Bay and across the Charles to hip Cambridge. No longer did I need a map, I lived for long walks through the city, trying to get lost in order to find the real Boston. The people, while completely multicultural, create a harmonious and accepting atmosphere I have yet to find in any other city. The 35 universities in Boston draw students from all across the globe, giving the city a sense of youth and learning, while also ensuring the large distribution of coffee shops to the delight of many.

I’m so thankful to the Computer Science department in UCC and RLE at MIT for allowing me this amazing opportunity. It has always been a dream of mine to experience the life of a scientist, working on the cutting edge of technology, enhancing computer systems that will make a difference in the lives of many. As I continue my project with MIT through my final year of computer science, I dream that someday I’ll be able to return to Boston and walk through MIT campus once more.

Emily Horgan, BSc Computer Science Graduate 2016

Emily Horgan, Graduate, Computer Science

Emily Horgan, Graduate Computer Science UCC, 2016

Studying Computer Science has opened up many doors for me both professionally and socially – not only have I made great business connections and have a solid platform in which to seek employment, but I have also been lucky to make lifelong friends who share the same interests. One of the greatest opportunities I’ve been given throughout my time studying Computer Science in UCC was to fly to Bangkok, Thailand last May and present my Final Year Project at a three day conference being held in a technical college there.

Visiting the college itself, KMUTT (King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi), was an experience. KMUTT is a purely technical college, so engineering, architecture and computer science are the main courses taught and studied there. Most are taught through Thai, but many are taught in English and partnered with other English speaking colleges across the globe.

UCC has a connection with KMUTT, with many of their students coming to Cork to learn English each summer. This summer, it was our turn to visit their campus and take part in their annual Senior Project Conference, which allowed students from colleges in Singapore, India and Taiwan to name but a few, present the projects they developed during their undergraduate studies.

UCC sent three representatives – a student from Engineering and two students from Computer Science, myself included. The long travel (16 hours, including stop overs) was well worth the warm welcome we received from the students there. They could not have been more accommodating, welcoming or interesting. The first evening of the conference was spent giving cultural performances and backgrounds to each college. The idea of studying in UCC went down really well with all of the students, as did the beautiful scenery and landscape that Cork had to offer. We also managed to teach the conference attendees a bit about Irish Dancing (apologies for the cringey stereotype) which they all really enjoyed. Apparently, Micheal Flatley is a hero in Taiwan.

The second day was the main day of the conference where each student presented their projects. What I found the most interesting throughout the day was the diversity of the projects displayed. While the majority of the students attending had backgrounds in Engineering, our projects really held their own throughout the day. Topics ranged from my own project, which focused on the importance of User Experience and User Interface design for mobile and wearable applications, all the way to self driving cars, 3D printing of medical devices and brail clocks. Because of the mix between the different threads of engineering (civil, electrical, chemical) and the mix of UCC’s computer scientists, it made for an extremely interesting conference.

Aside from the projects, the students of KMUTT brought us to many of the main attractions throughout Bangkok and in general, treated us like were close friends from the very beginning. It was mutually beneficial, as the students were interested in bettering their English, while we were interested in soaking up as much culture as possible while there.

Because we had managed to get to the other side of the world, I continued my travels around South East Asia for a further three weeks after the conference – the first two weeks accompanied by one of the other UCC students who attended the conference, and an extra week on my own. I can honestly say that I would not have even considered visiting Thailand this summer without the support of UCC. Not only was I rewarded with a whole new cultural experience, but it meant that the hard work I had put into my final year project all year was validated and appreciated by an audience which I never thought would see it. I made connections with students and professionals from all over the world who appreciated my work.

This opportunity would not have arose if it were not for the support of my lecturers, the staff in the Computer Science department and of course, the college itself. For me, I could not think of a better way to finish .

Joe Pegler, MSc Computing Science


Joe Pegler, FSI (FM Solutions) Ltd, 2016

After completing an HDip in Comp Sci I debated whether to start looking for work immediately or to do the MSc. Having asked a number of students who did the MSc a year before me, my decision was made, and I began a tough but very rewarding year with a mix of BSc and HDip graduates. The generic MSc in Comp Sci best applied to me because I wanted a more general course that kept options open. As an HDip graduate, I was worried that I would be behind the other BSc graduates in the class, but I soon found that I could keep my own with some excellent lecturers and a little elbow grease. There was a happy mix of current/relevant technologies, and a good foundation of core computing principles on offer. The reason I have no hesitation in recommending the course were the frequent opportunities to be creative and innovative, both personally and as part of a team (a valuable lesson if you ever want to work in software development). The projects were always designed to keep things interesting, and I created a number fun apps that had a hand in eventually helping me to find a good job in the tech hub of London. The standout project for me was creating a mobile gyroscope application, whose movement controlled that of a robot. In a group of three each with different responsibilities, the sense of achievement we felt after our successful demonstration helped to cement in my mind the sort of career I would seek.

Joe Pegler, MSc Computing Science, 2015; FSI, (FM Solutions) Ltd, 2016

Roisin O’Connell, MSc Interactive Media


Roisin O’Connell, MSc Interactive Media 2015

I have just completed an MSc in Interactive Media in UCC.  My undergraduate degree was in education so this was a step into unknown territory.  No doubt it was daunting at first, but this is a conversion course and everyone was coming from diverse backgrounds, so we were all in the same position. During the course I had access to state-of-the-art facilities in the newly built Western Gateway Building which is located just off the main campus.  The course is well designed, varied and interesting, providing an introduction into various technologies such as 3D Modelling, programming and web-design.  The teaching staff were second to none and provided top class teaching, along with constant advice and guidance in a professional, yet friendly manner.  The course has opened new doors for me and has provided me with the ideal platform upon which to enter the exciting world of computers and interactive media.

Róisín O’ Connell, MSc Interactive Media 2015;

St Mary’s of the Isle Primary School, Cork, 2016

Abey Thomas Alex, MSc Data Science & Analytics

“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway.” – Geoffrey Moore

Coming from a Business Analyst background at a Major US bank where I was analysing the needs and processes of the user/organization from the business perspective, and gradually I realised the need of making decisions/plans based on data-driven approach and also recent technological development in the field of analytics and increase in the reliance on data for making efficient business processes/ products further ascertained my ambition to pursue a degree in data science.

After a year at UCC, I have much more things to add to the list of “Why UCC?” First and foremost reason would be the pool of learned and eminent researchers/professors who are expert in their respective field of study, UCC has a good number of international students which promotes the environment of collaborative learning from international perspective, and another reason would be UCC is constantly ranked as one of the best universities in Ireland. Being an international student finances were a concern for me and Cork is the best place to study peacefully, economically, in an excellent university and among the extremely friendly people of Cork.

One of the best features about the course is that it is suitable for both, students coming from analytical and non-analytical backgrounds and lays a perfect foundation of analytics focussing on both Statistics and Programming aspects and another attractive feature is that the course is constantly evolving every year to cater the needs of industry requirements so the students are rest assured they are in much demand after graduating from the course.

Within 2 weeks after completing the course I got a job at a US based Biotech Company named Gilead Science as Data Analyst where I extract, store and analyse huge amount of data to find key patterns and solve many existing process problems. I plan to continue to grow in the field of analytics due to its ability to solve business problems and increase my knowledge across various domains.

I would recommend this course to all national and international students who are passionate about creating and developing a career in analytics as the course is well constructed to impart basic and advanced level of data analytics knowledge as well as I would recommend UCC for its best teaching and research facilities as well as programs/services which enhance the employability factor of students.

I am currently working as Data Analyst for Gilead Science at their analytics team. I have been there for over five months now and I am bringing the knowledge I gained at UCC to my job. My managers find it valuable.

I would like to thank the Department and the University again for assisting in my endeavours immensely.

Thanks again

Abey Alex

Abey Thomas Alex, MSc Data Science & Analytics 2014;

Data Analyst for Gilead Science, 2016



Kirsty Hilliard, HDip Applied Computing Technology

Kirsty Hilliard

Kirsty Hilliard, Lidl, 2016

My initial qualification was a degree in Archaeology from UCC. I graduated into the beginning of the economic downturn in 2008 only to find that the Archaeological industry had collapsed alongside the construction industry. I subsequently found a management level position in retail and worked for several big names over the next few years. There was a lot of competition for higher level management jobs and I moved to the UK in the hopes of getting more experience over there. My partner was offered a great opportunity back here in Ireland so we came home again and I found it very difficult to re-enter the workforce, even at entry level positions, as there were so many people desperate for work for after years of recession.

There seemed to be a lot of articles and reports on the news that IT based industries had more vacancies than they had qualified people applying for them so I looked at ways of breaking into that sector. I started a Java programming course and soon after discovered the UCC H-Dip program that was starting in September. I told one of my friends about it at the course to see if she would be interested and we both applied and got in.

What had interested me in the UCC H-Dip was the range of different topics that it covered, there were many areas one could branch out from, rather than being cornered into one specialisation right from the start. We learned basic scripts and commands for OS administration and Networks, programming in several languages, which helps not only your CV but improve ones ownn logical reasoning skills. We also covered modules in Databases and Excel which are multi-industry essentials these days.

Aside from the study, the people I met during my year were one of the best parts. The Lecturers were very understanding and always willing to answer questions or explain something again, you could really tell that they wanted us to do well. I always found them to be very encouraging about getting into the industry and they pointed out practices that would be helpful out in the ‘real-world’ whenever we came across one. I consider myself extremely lucky in the classmates that I had. There was always a great atmosphere in the Lab and we worked well together making sure no-one was struggling on anything. I think it helped that we were all relatively mature, having ‘done’ college already and worked for a few years, not to mention that we all came in with the same goal of getting into IT so we were all serious about doing well.

After an intense year, just before my exams I was offered a place on the Graduate program for Lidl in the IT stream which was a huge weight off my shoulders and an affirmation of sorts for taking on the course in the first place. Currently I am almost finished my 18 month program, focusing mostly in the Service and Support division of the IT department and I sometimes surprise myself at what I know and can do as a result of the H-Dip. I work with a lot of specialists and it is very handy for me to have the range of knowledge I do when troubleshooting a problem as I can see things from multiple directions not just one.

I’m finishing up a couple of projects at the moment, ready for my big presentation with the Board in March. The overall theme is the new challenge we face in changing how our employees work on a daily basis, culminating in our move to our new HQ in Dublin in April. We are moving towards offering full mobility to our staff so there are plenty of new devices and software being introduced to our environment on a regular basis.  My focus is regulating the new user experience and minimizing potential issues with new technologies that may require Support from my team. I’m responsible for all user end devices in the company and as such I am usually the first port of call for any issues that arise with these, I’m also responsible with inducting all our proprietary Software systems, which is a lot! The overall success of my project depends on good knowledge of a wide range of subjects (Networks, System Administration and Databases are the main ones), which I believe I have as a result of this course!

Kirsty Hilliard, HDip Applied Computing Technology, 2014


Miao Yichong, MSc Computing Science


Miao Yichong, MSc Computing Science 2015

My time at UCC has flown; the postgraduate study is already finished. I still remember the department meeting on the first day, which was hosted by the Dr Marc van Dongen. He gave us a very wonderful and detailed introduction of the following year’s core curriculum. I was shocked when I heard the courses’ arrangements and tasks. The course content is so difficult for me. I was worried at the term start, but the reliable lecturers eased me of my burden quickly. If we had any difficulty in study or daily life, they would always help us patiently.

Ireland is the birthplace of writers including Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, and home of Murphy beer. UCC is located in Cork, on the southwest coast of Ireland. I love this city and university very much. The main campus gives me a sense of Harry Potter. However, most of MSc Computing Science courses took place in the Western Gateway Building. WGB is one of the most modern buildings in the campus.

About the course chosen: there are various kinds of courses in the computing area. I can assure you that you could always find the courses which are suitable for you.

Finally, I want to say thanks to all lecturers who ever helped me, including my supervisor Dr Simon Foley, Professor Gregory Provan, Dr Sabin Tabirca, etc.

In the end, I intend to hold out a promise that it will be your best choice to pursue postgraduate studies in MSc Computer Science at UCC.

Miao Yichong, MSc Computing Science 2015

David Walsh, MSc Data Science & Analytics



David Walsh, Data Scientist at Betfair, Dublin 2016

I first became interested in data analytics during my degree in Financial Mathematics where I already had a good background in statistics. The idea of being able to link data from different sources and find relationships between elements in the data is not only interesting, it is also extremely valuable. The career opportunities available to a good analyst are vast with a huge amount of really interesting work being done by various companies in different fields.

Having completed my degree in UCC, I knew it would be a great place to do my masters. The Western Gateway Building which holds almost all of the lectures is an impressive modern campus with plenty of high spec computers and all the software you will require.

The course itself had some very interesting modules. In particular data mining and python were probably my favourite. Both were heavily project based which allowed you to apply the techniques you learned. In the data mining module we did a project which used various methods to predict which passengers survived on the titanic and analysed how accurate the different methods were.

I would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in data analytics. The modules are geared to providing you with the perfect skill set for the vast amount of data science & analyst positions out there.

David Walsh, MSc Data Science & Analytics, 2015; Betfair – Dublin, 2016