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Student story

Joey Scarr

20 July 2023

"There’s plenty that a Computer Science or Software Engineering degree can offer you..."


Bachelor of Science with Honours in Computer Science

PhD in Computer Science

Software Engineer, Chrome Infra Security team, Google

"There's plenty that a Computer Science or Software Engineering degree can offer you even if programming"s not your thing," says Joey.

"For example, my field, human-computer interaction, is really the study of people – and it often involves more psychology than programming. Similarly, software engineering is as much about programming as it is about developing teamwork and leadership skills, and learning to communicate effectively.

"But, if you enjoyed math and science at school, it's certainly one of the best options available in terms of job prospects – demand for software engineers and computer scientists is constantly increasing."

Joey works for Google Australia, where he has previously interned twice while studying at UC, and completed his doctorate while over in Sydney. After taking a year to work on a start-up, he returned to work for Google in the Chrome Infra Security team working remotely from his Christchurch home.

"I studied ways to make interfaces more efficient by making use of human spatial memory – our ability to remember where things are. Almost everyone uses computers these days, and it's rewarding to develop ways to improve the interaction that people encounter every day – like selecting commands in Microsoft Word, or navigating through file browsers.

"While software engineering at a big company like Google can offer less freedom than research, it does give you the opportunity to make an impact by improving software that millions of people use."

Computer Science was the natural degree choice for Joey, who would often spend his lunchtimes at high school programming video games. He completed UC's STAR programme which enabled him to take some degree courses while still at school, and enrolled for his degree. He won a number of scholarships, including the Emerging Leaders' Scholarship for his first year, the GB Battersby-Trimble Scholarship and Allied Telesis Labs Scholarship for his honours year, and the Brownlie Scholarship (worth $26,000 per annum) for his PhD studies.

"The Computer Science honours programme – my fourth year – was my favourite year, full of interesting and challenging topics, and as a small class of about ten people we were able to build strong friendships. All of the lecturers and staff in the Computer Science department are friendly and easy to get along with."

Joey says his studies have given him an excellent set of skills to progress with his career plans.

"In terms of research, the honours year in particular was excellent preparation. Many of the courses are introductions to research in specialist fields, giving you plenty of chances to develop your skills.

"And in terms of software engineering, the second and third-year BSc classes at Canterbury are top-notch. The fact that they have you developing software in teams for a real-world client from day one is great for the skills and experience you gain. Much of computer science relies on programming skills, so if you learn to program in your own time and develop those skills early, everything else becomes exponentially easier."

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