You picked Imperial to become a scientist, engineer or a medical doctor. What do these careers have in common? You’ll need to write a lot: scientific papers, grant applications, lecture notes, popular science articles.
As soon as I found out that I’d be studying here, I was immediately filled with petty worries.
From an Imperial Survivor, I mean Graduate!
It’s crazy to think that its already been 3 years since I was moving into halls to begin my Mathematics degree at Imperial. Carting box after box into my new room at Beit hall, to say I was nervous would have been an understatement. Coming from a small all girls school I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t even know if I remembered how to make friends… but not for long. Life at Imperial was so busy, from a challenging academic course to tons of clubs and societies there was hardly any time for me to even spend worrying!
Unfortunately, the current pandemic means that many students returning to the UK or arriving in halls for the first time will have to self-isolate for two weeks. This is a particularly difficult experience if you are a fresher, being cut-off from almost all in person interaction at a time when you are leaving your old social support network. Additionally, we will all be spending a lot more time secluded in our rooms this year, a place where, at the best of times, it is easy to fall into a slump, forgoing your work in favour of binging video games or television.
A checklist for moving day
Sitting in my uni flat bedroom, facing the daunting task of packing up essentially 3 years of my life, it felt appropriate to actually assess how much of this stuff I needed to being to university and how much I could’ve left at home. So here are my top tips of what to actually bring when you move into halls in first year. It’s important to remember that you will only be in halls for 9 months in first year and then you’ll be moving your stuff back home, into storage or straight into your accommodation for the next few years, so don’t overpack!!
The last few weeks have been a blur of intensive project work. We’ve had two programming projects, one individual and one group.
Simulating Relativistic Decays
The first programming project was for the relativity module. We had to simulate the energy distribution of neutrinos from a set of particle decays. This individual project was an interesting test of applying what we had learnt in the module, combining programming skills and careful consideration of the scenario. Since the project was assessed automatically, this required a lot of scrutiny to the specifications given for variable names and the units values were presented in.
Statistical Application and Group Tensions
While the first project went quite smoothly for me, the second was rather bumpy.
We have reached the end of what I’m told is summer term (it’s different for PG students, since we keep working through to September) and with it, the end of this blog. It’s been quite the journey, even before the disruption brought on by the coronavirus, and so I have some final thoughts to share.
There is no doubt in my mind that coming to London was the right decision for my master’s degree. Beyond the practical reasons to leave the US—program length, cost, not having to take the GREs—London in particular has been a special place to me.
As the summer term draws to an end, it’s a good idea to summarise what it was like for me. This time was exceptional since it was my first encounter with full remote studying (apart from pre-pandemic self-learning episodes with text tutorials and YouTube educational videos).
Compared to autumn and spring terms, the number of modules for second year computing students was much smaller. We only had to work on a group project and the introduction to law module.
The project was called “Designing for Real People” (DRP). In groups of 4, we had to create a web or mobile application that solved a real-world problem.
I had mentioned on my previous blog that I would share my experiences with the first-year remote group project. Unlike previous first years who would have worked on building the ‘EEE Bug’, this year the nature of the group project was completely transformed and the cohort was given a choice between designing an analogue music synthesiser, designing a CPU with computational abilities and programming a circuit simulator package in C++. My two teammates and I (each of one of us in completely different time zones, with the maximum difference being 6 hours!) decided on the option of designing a general-purpose CPU on Quartus Prime, with the ability to execute a vast majority of computational algorithms.
I have completed my share of long-term projects before, but I still felt nervous when deciding to apply for my course and seeing the research project at the end. Now, a month in, I am still a little apprehensive about the final result but also feel fairly capable of producing a decent work. For those curious about what the research process entails, I offer a few tips below:
Actively build new skills
Four months is a long time to be working on one thing and boredom can start to set in, so choose a topic that lets you learn something new.
Before I formally retire from this role since I’ll be graduating (yay!), I wanted to comment on work experience and the project viva, which is the presentation and discussion that takes place after you submit your final year project/dissertation…
I couldn’t get any internships, I’m screwed!
You’re really not. There are lots of activities you can do that can enhance your CV whilst at uni or during term breaks. For uni, there are part-time positions you can sign up for like student bloggers (me!), the President Ambassador’s scheme, and student caller campaigns. You can check out fellow student blogger Kinan’s experience with those schemes by clicking the hyperlinks.
My Final Year Teaching Module
One of the absolute highlights of my time at Imperial has been taking part in M3T, a module offered in the Mathematics department that is titled “Communicating Mathematics”. This project module basically involves spending 1 day a week in a secondary school during term 2 of your final year. Since the secondary school I attended is very nearby to Imperial, I was lucky to do this project there.Module Structure
During my first 2 or 3 visits I spent most of my time just observing lessons. During the term I would be focusing on 3 groups of students, Yr9 middle set, bottom set Yr11 preparing for GCSEs and a Yr12 Further Maths class.