Joe Richmond Knight is in his final year studying Computer Systems Engineering.
What attracted you to Kent, and to this degree course?
Kent always scored well in tables, and Canterbury is a lovely place to study. I fell in love with the campus on an Open Day. I’d seen universities in towns that didn’t feel like one establishment, and at other universities some buildings were a 15-minute walk away and didn’t have that campus feel.
I liked the fact that the course is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, so must adhere to strict standards and stay up to date. Also, if you’ve got an accredited degree, that’s a huge employability bonus. Having the option to do a work placement was another major attraction for me.
My firm choice of course was Kent’s Computer Systems Engineering programme, and my insurance was that with a foundation year, which I ended up doing because I didn’t quite get the grades. I was initially concerned about having to take the foundation year, due to the additional time. However, my lecturer explained that people who take it can get quite a bit more in their final grade than those who don’t.
How is your course going?
We’ve covered everything from the advent of electronic computing to cutting-edge technology – you need to know how things were done in order to understand how they will be done in the future. It's a more applied version of computer studies, as we learn how to build and program a system. The School is not too big – you feel you’re part of something – and the facilities are great; the computers have all the software you could need and the labs are fantastic.
What are your favourite modules?
I really enjoyed the basic electronics modules, especially the hands-on work. It really opens up job opportunities. You can work in IT, networking, as an electronic or systems engineer, or a software developer. I’ve also enjoyed the projects: my final-year project is on the wi-fi home – a home automation project. You can see a clear application for what you’re learning, and you’re actually developing something that could be used in the wider world.
How was your placement?
I worked for a predictive maintenance company, who collect sensor data and apply machine learning to understand if a fault will soon occur. I did a lot of programming, but also a lot of soldering and building things. It was perfect. I’m working part-time for them now, and will go back when I graduate. I work on the data collection side of things: I’ve designed hardware platforms that connect sensors and systems then send that data up to the cloud.
What do you think of the teaching and support available?
The lecturing has been brilliant and I’ve learned so much; but if we ever do have a problem, we have course representatives. I was one for the first three years. This means that, at the staff-student meetings, you can voice your opinions – and they are definitely taken on board.
What about the social life?
I made very good friends in Freshers’ Week. There was plenty going on and, by the end of the first week, I already felt that this was my university. Living in Darwin, you have 10 people sharing a kitchen, so it’s a great opportunity to be sociable. The Venue is very well run, and the gym is fantastic. All the committees and groups Kent Union has to offer are great too.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I’d really like to stay involved with the ‘Internet of Things’ – every device being connected to the internet. It’s an emerging technology and, in terms of data, it has huge potential.
Any advice for future students?
Get involved, get to know the lecturers, join societies in your first year. Just be proactive and don’t be afraid to get stuck in.