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 .