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Student story

Marc Katzef

20 July 2023

"The experience I have had has prepared me to get up to speed quickly..."


Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Computer Engineering, with a minor in Communications and Network Engineering

Wanting a career working within global tech giants such as Google and Intel, Marc’s Computer Engineering studies have given him a solid foundation in IT and research development.

With ‘one of New Zealand’s top universities right on the doorstep’, Marc first got involved with UC through the STAR course MATH 199 during high school.

Marc was keen on the idea of technical work, and thought initially of studying Mechanical Engineering. After taking an introductory Computer Science course in his first year, however, Marc found a career in IT was what he truly wanted to pursue.

"The course gave me my first computer programming experience – showing me how powerful these machines are and convincing me to see what was down the rabbit hole," he says.

"For someone who has ventured into the world of programming, microcontrollers, or computer hardware or operating systems in his/her own time, this course should stay engaging all the way through. This course gives a good background of the field and prepares one for a wide range of IT careers."

Work placements through his degree over the summer months at Verizon Connect, as an Intern Software Developer, was an ideal introduction to the industry.

He also ended up taking a course from the College of Arts – ECON 223 on strategic game theory – under the Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Award programme in his final year.

"This was a great opportunity to see how other faculties operate and dispel stereotypes about those who chose different fields of study. I saw that we are all in the same boat at university – we have gone out of our way to push ourselves academically while balancing personal lives."

Socialising with other students on campus was one of the most valuable aspects of university for Marc, for meeting people both within and outside of his degree. Marc recalls a lot of fun events such as barbeques and industry talks with CompSoc, PhysSoc, and UC Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE); and Programming for Fun competitions run by the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

He also enjoyed club activities that ‘get as far from computers as possible’, including the likes of Canterbury University Tramping Club and UC Ultimate Club (Ultimate Frisbee). 

Following the completion of his Computer Engineering degree, Marc gained a Summer Research Scholarship for work at University of Auckland.

"My project was offered by a research group named PRETzel which develops safety-critical software and hardware – components which can be analysed and guaranteed to execute within a calculated duration.

"My task was to develop a compiler which took one representation of neural networks (or a group of neural networks) and generates C code from it. The C code needed to follow certain rules to be time-analysable and was optimised using multi-threading and pipelining. The tool I wrote will be used by members of the team in future publications (one master’s thesis and one journal article with the compiler as the topic)," he says.

"I found many aspects of the project itself interesting like learning about neural networks, time-predictability, safety concerns in software, and compiler programming. The thing I found most interesting from this project, however, has been exploring a different university. I was surprised to find out how similar UoA is to UC in terms of the content taught, and how easy it was to get into the swing of things in a research role from my UC education."

Before launching his IT career, Marc is looking towards completing postgraduate studies in the internet-of-things in Australia. He feels well-prepared for the next step in his journey thanks to his experiences so far.

"More than teaching you content needed for courses, university teaches you how to learn. My study has presented me with opportunities in research at two universities (UC and UoA) and in the workforce at local software engineering companies Verizon Connect and Trimble.

"I feel equipped to take on IT roles not even aimed at computer engineers, because the experience I have had has prepared me to get up to speed quickly." 

His overall experiences and academic results from UC were recognised with a 2018 University Prize scholarship in Engineering.

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