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Student story

Kusal Ekanayake

20 July 2023

"UC gave me the skills I needed to get stuck into the software development industry..."


Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Software Engineering

Developer, Verizon Connect

From playing in a band, to studying Engineering, to developing apps with Verizon Connect, Kusal is happiest when working in a team.

"I love technology, especially when it's software-based," he says. "Ever since learning about basic programming in high school and finding out there was a degree that incorporated the use of programming with teamwork, this seemed like the perfect degree for me.

"It definitely has the right balance of team-based work and independent work. I enjoy the way it incorporates logical thinking too. It's always providing me with challenges that I learn to overcome."

While he was at high school in Lincoln, Canterbury, Kusal got a preview of life at UC when he took the popular STAR course, MATH 199. It proved useful as an introduction to university study, but it also gave him more options when it came to planning his degree.

"The STAR course was a great introduction to tertiary education as I was familiar with the environment of attending lectures and I learned what the workload for a course at UC would be like," he says. "It meant I was able to complete EMTH 201 [Engineering Maths] during my Intermediate Year, when it is normally taken in the First Professional Year, so with that out of the way I was free to explore other courses, such as Psychology and Statistics.

"STAR helped me by making me more confident with my mathematics and took a lot off my plate for the Intermediate Year of Engineering. It was still an advantage in my later years of studying. The extra statistics skills I picked up thanks to the room the STAR course provided me helped me secure my first internship, which eventually turned into my full-time career! I would highly recommend participating in STAR courses to anyone considering studying a tertiary education. If you put the right amount of effort and time into it, it can give you a great head start into your degree at the University of Canterbury."

Kusal agrees that Engineering studies involve a lot of dedication, but says that getting involved with extracurricular activities on campus is a great way to learn on-the-job while still enjoying university.

"You just have to make sure you put time aside to relax and have some fun, which is extremely important when it comes to managing stress," he says.

"During my last few years I managed to get super involved with the UC community, being the Marketing Manager for the Computer Society, and participating in the TuneSoc"s Battle of the Bands event. The flexibility of the UC courses also allowed me to get heavily involved with the community through local youth councils and other volunteer groups such as Youth Voice Canterbury. I also volunteered my time at the weekly Code Club at Ilam Primary School."

Now completed his Software Engineering studies and starting off his career in mobile applications development, Kusal can see how all of his hard work has launched him further into the industry.

"Looking back now, after having completed my Bachelor's in Software Engineering with Honours, I can feel confident in saying that UC gave me the skills I needed to get stuck into the software development industry. UC helped me feel prepared going into the workforce as it taught me a good balance between technical and soft skills. Thanks to the balance that I was able to create between study, volunteering, and recreation, I was able to place in the top 3 students of the New Zealand Emerging Leaders Awards in the Digital & Technology category for 2018."

He plans to continue his leadership initiatives and success by eventually starting his own software company.

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