September 9, 2019

Joel poses with his degree certificate in front of the sea at Cardiff Bay

My name is Joel Pinney and I recently graduated with a First-Class Honours degree in Computer Science from Cardiff Met. After three years of hard work, my graduation was one of the proudest days of my life – but my journey with Cardiff Met didn’t end there. I will soon begin the next chapter of my life studying a PhD at the University. This is my story of how Cardiff Met helped me achieve what I never imagined would be possible.

When I began my search for a university back in 2016, I was clueless. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, if I wanted to live at home or away, and at one point I even doubted I wanted to go to university at all… but I knew one thing for sure – I loved learning about computers. Deciding to go to university was the best option for my future, and I began searching for courses in the UK.

At a UCAS Open Day I started talking to a staff member from Cardiff Met. Their enthusiasm and knowledge about my course drove me to book a place for an Open Day at the University. There I was welcomed by friendly faces and a modern high-tech building. Although I gained offers from all my choices, I knew there was only one university I wanted to go to.

The course was perfect and included so many different aspects of computer science, ranging from law and digital security to the principles of programming – allowing all of us to get a taster of the different types of jobs we could go into. I was one of the lucky students to be able to work in the EUREKA Robotics Lab with Dr. Esyin Chew, whose knowledge and support grew my passion to study Robotics further. I had the chance to see some of the most advanced robots on the market and even got the ability to program some as part of my course. I enjoyed it so much that even my dissertation was oriented around robotics.

Two humanoid robots from the EUREKA Robotics Lab
I had the chance of programming robots during my time in the EUREKA Robotics Lab

I felt the layout of the course worked so well. In year one I started to learn basic principles of computing such as programming, website building and social aspects of computing. These introductory topics prepared me for the second year, where I learnt databases, software carpentry and even had the chance to go on a work experience placement at General Dynamics, an American aerospace and defence corporation – probably one of the coolest placements ever! In my final year I had an option of modules I could study, giving me the chance to specialise in what I enjoyed. I picked analytics and business intelligence as I found it so interesting and it worked well with the other core modules.

A collage of images - Joel with friends during graduation, Joel playing pool with friends
Friendships and memories made during these three years will stay with me forever

I recall in sixth form teachers would say they are trying to “prepare” you for when you go to university by explaining how you will not get supported as you do in school. That statement was far from the truth! From day one I felt I was supported by my lecturers and staff at Cardiff Met. Being a curious person I always had questions about lectures or things that I didn’t understand, but that was no problem. My lecturers would agree to meet after session time to discuss questions, and in some cases they organised a full lecture to ensure you understood everything. I regularly found myself staying behind or arranging meetings to review my work to push my grades higher.

Considering back in 2016 I was debating not even going to university at all, I am so glad that I went. Not only do I feel I learnt so much, but I believe I gained so much more. The experiences, friendships and memories that university offered me will stick with me for the rest of my life. Although I decided to progress to postgraduate studies, it’s nice to see how my friends went into high-paid graduate jobs, with my one friend going into a grad job as a software developer and the other a graduate cybersecurity consultant – all from studying Computer Science at Cardiff Met. The three years studying my undergraduate degree were amazing… roll on the next three!