Generating Genius X UCL Computer Science Summer Programme
24 November 2021
UCL Computer Science is committed to increasing awareness about studying Computer Science in underrepresented communities.
Last summer, our students volunteered for careers events held for sixth-form students by Generating Genius as part of the Uni Genius programme. Uni Genius is designed for Year 12 A-Level students from African and Caribbean backgrounds to gain key skills to thrive in the world of STEM.
Generating Genius has been working for 15 years to ensure that talented and able students from disadvantaged backgrounds are positioned to excel in STEM careers. For us to accomplish this goal, we must ensure students can gain a place to study at top universities and attain good jobs in top businesses.
UCL students joined a careers panel with about 15 participants from the Generating Genius scheme. Here is a write-up from the two UCL students who participated.
‘I welcomed the attendees by covering my unusual pathway through UCL. Going from Electrical Engineering through to Computer Science, I wanted to show its okay to find that your desires change as you progress through your education. I also talked my journey going from a disadvantaged start through my A-levels to graduating in the top 5% graduate within my department.
This illustrates that we have more potential within us, and that if you work hard and work smart you can truly become the best version of yourself, no matter where your starting background lies.
I showcased a Machine Learning project that I undertook in the final year. I built a recycling classifier which automatically classified recycling objects by material, through just the use of a camera and clever Machine Learning techniques. I thought this was a cool mesh of my hardware knowledge from electronics and my software knowledge from programming all in one – a project that represented my weird route as a student through UCL.’
‘I talked about my background and non-traditional route into computer science. I covered the benefits of being interested in computer science from, say, the age of 18 and reassured participants that they needn’t be too worried about not having computing-related qualifications because having the exposure to computer science is useful in itself.
I encouraged attendees to try out different projects and coding tutorials as a means of getting exposure to coding and seeing what they like. I briefly touched on Mazin’s point about working smart and not hard and how this is a good piece of advice. Finally, I demonstrated my summer project that I was working on with an industry partner.’
Event leader Rae Harbird said:
Our students are great role models, and they have a lot to offer younger people who are in the process of considering what degree courses to apply for at university. In these events, CS students talk about their journey to university and why they love what they study, highlighting a favourite project. CS students also talk about their career aspirations; it’s interesting to learn where their degree will lead them and it’s often very varied.