A CompSci meeting on communication

Let me introduce this post with a ‘joke’ on CompScis:

Q: How do you tell an introverted computer scientist from an extroverted computer scientist?

A: An extroverted computer scientist looks at your shoes when he talks to you.

Ha, ha, ha…

As CompScis supposedly have trouble communicating (an essential skill at any point in life), the second Part 1A meeting was on communication.

Just like last week, we were told to split up into two groups. Armed with a laptop each, the groups were put in separate rooms. Once we got our Skype connection set up (important detail: we had audio communication only) the instructions of the game were told.

Both groups were given a set of Lego which was not too complex, but involved more than just stacking 4×2 blocks. The instructions belonging to sets, however, were swapped. Now, the challenge was to build both of the Lego sets using audio communication only.

Surprisingly enough (not so much…), we did quite well building the Lego sets. The difficulty of the game was therefore increased by limiting the number of persons to touch the Lego in a group to one and that one person had to keep his eyes closed. The result:


A fully working helicopter

A Queens’ compsci’s first week

The first thing that I noticed about my first week at queens is that it was over.

That is to say, it was a very busy week.

On the Saturday, I arrived at Queens’, got my keys, found my room and started to unpack. I said goodbye to my mum and dad, and went to find my new parents -every fresher at Queens’ is assigned to a ‘college family’ to help everyone to get accustomed to life at Queens’.

So, once I found my parents, and had met my family, the week had already started. I was shown around the college, taught the etiquette of formal hall and shown around Cambridge by my parents. We even took to the river on a punt.

Already, it’s Monday. On Monday, I met our DoS Bogdan, and the rest of the first year CompScis. We’re all pretty similar, so we became good friends pretty quickly.

The next day was matriculation. This basically consists of a fancy ceremony, were you sign a book and meet the president, and a fancy meal. At the matriculation dinner we met Robin Walker, who was the DoS for computer science at Queens’ for many years – he had plenty of stories to tell.

On Wednesday, the day was useful to catch up with all the administration and things. In the evening was a meeting with all the Queens’ CompScis, followed by a formal dinner. We had a great time getting to know all the other compscis.

Finally, on Thursday, lectures began with a 9AM maths lecture. Afterwards was a databases lecture at the William Gates building, followed by a department induction event.

And that was my busy first week as a Queens compsci.

Our First Part 1A Group Meeting

Every Tuesday, the 1A (first year) compscis at Queens’ have a weekly meeting, where we do things that are quite different from the material we are covering in lectures. For our first session, we split into two teams of three and disassembled some old computers as far as we could.


The first stage was to remove the components from the case, which proved harder than we expected because the screws were so worn out, while also figuring out how all the parts work together.

Eventually we got all of the parts out of the case, and we were ready to start disassembling the components (after a short cake break). One group decided to work on the power supply, while the other attacked the floppy and hard drives.

Unfortunately, due to some inaccessible screws and missing tools, we were unable to fully disassemble the hard drives (a key would have been needed to extract the drives from their hot swap bays), but the other parts came apart well, revealing even more complex circuitry.


From Cambridge offer to coming up.

It’s the start of the new academic year and we’re all go at Queens’. Lectures have started, we’ve had two group meetings of compscis and supervisions are starting imminently.

I asked one of our new fresher’s, Aliyah Bond, to write a few words on her experience of the time between getting a Cambridge offer to coming up to Cambridge. She says:

From Cambridge offer to coming up

Those who have had a conditional offer from any university know exactly how it feels – a few days of elation, followed by panic that you won’t make your grades.

You probably expect me to say “don’t worry, everything will be fine,” but it’s a stressful process and completely natural to have concerns. What I do want to say is that Cambridge is most definitely worth the effort you put in to get here.

We were told on arrival that every offer is made to someone who stands out from the crowd as exceptional. Trust that the academics have chosen you for a reason, but be prepared for the hard work that’s yet to come!

We’re glad the the effort is worth it🙂.

Second and Third year results

The results for the second and third years came out last Friday. Well done all round. Here are the stats. 3rd years: 2 firsts, 3 2.1’s and 2 3rds. 2nd years: 4 firsts, 1 2.1 and 1 3rd. We had a couple of near misses this year and so very nearly had more firsts.

A particular well done to Rob who ranked 2nd across all 2nd year Computer Scientists in Cambridge and to Henry who ranked 4th.

4th year results

This year Eduard decided to stay on and take the 4th year option (known as Part III). In order to qualify for this you have to either get a First in the 3rd year or a First in both your 1st and 2nd years.

I’m pleased to report than not only has Eduard passed with distinction but he’s been awarded the “MetaSwitch Best Part III Student Prize 2016” for coming top of his year.

This was due in part to his excellent project score of 91/100. To score about 90 one has to meet these criteria:

  • Significant contribution to field
  • Evidence of considerable extra-curricular reading and original interpretation
  • Challenging goals, and substantial deliverables, without much help from supervisor
  • Close to faultless in execution and write-up

Well done Eduard!