Roger: Sometimes I think – a guy sitting in front of a computer all day. What a loser.

(Uttered during the semester he did Advanced Operating Systems)more quotes here

A blog post about finishing Uni. (or, ‘I’ve learnt lots about computers’). Total exclamation marks in this post: 12

Fav courses highlights, bad courses

I definitely enjoyed the courses in the later years better than first/second year [more on that later]

  • Extended Operating Systems – Great lecturer. Great stuff about kernels and other under the hood things.
  • Security Engineering Workshop – Nice to actually do some (really basic) reverse engineering and shellcode!
  • Distributed Systems – Heavy. Great teaching. Useful. Late night lectures.
  • C++ – The lecturer for the course changed halfway, which was kinda weird, but the language itself is definitely a good learn.
  • Computer Graphics – Okay

By the end of all this, you’d be fairly proficient in C (Operating Systems, Computer Engineering Design Projects, Security Workshop). I even used C during my thesis! At some point you’d also need to do some Java and Python programming. Strangely enough I didn’t learn any Javascript or SQL as part of my formal Uni education (but used a tiny bit for my thesis project)… $32,000 of fees don’t go that far ;P

I also did a few electives courses which turned out I turned out to not be too keen on:

  • Concepts of Programming languages !! Possibly chosen by mistake… sort of hoped there would be more course offerings tbh. Trying to learn type unification and doing assignments in Haskell before having ever programmed using a functional language, indeed a bad idea. (If you have actual interest in this area of computing, then you should do this course; otherwise I don’t recommend)
  • Networks – I did the old version of the course… when it was extremely boring. Apart from asking the lecturer about VLAN tagging, most was stuff I mostly already mostly knew.
  • Took Algorithms because basically everyone raved on about how it’d help you “pass coding interviews so you’d get a job”. (Hmmm yeah maybe I guess). Problem solving is more of a practice thing than ‘just learning it’.

Didn’t get to do:

  • Would have done HCI if it worked out with timetabling – that’s one thing that sucks about Uni!!

Uni work: Good times

We always joke about Uni group work being “an awful experience” where you’re forced to work with people who you can’t quite put a finger on why they’re even still enrolled (if you catch my drift) – and boy were there some great stories! But I’d like to thank my friends for hammering with me through those late nights πŸ™‚ OS, Design Projects A and B come to mind.

Met some really great guys during Uni for sure.

Persevering through bad

Early in my Uni career, I found myself not enjoying certain courses. Of course, upon reflection it really wasn’t so bad, but I struggled in First Year Physics and Electrical courses. Heck, I also used to think I wasn’t ‘smart’ enough!

Here’s a good read: I didn’t have Wolfe as I didn’t do the higher version of the course, but I’m a nerd so I found his site.

Also see:

I thank the professors from the Electrical Engineering school who let me pass all 3 electrical engineering courses that were core to my degree (ELEC1111, ELEC2134, ELEC2133 with final course marks of 55, 50 and 50 respectively). I’ll stick to writing software πŸ™‚

Did you know? There were a handful of people who transferred out from Computer Engineering due to struggles with either Electrical or Physics.

All that hardware stuff

Not many people know about the Computer Engineering degree. Likely because it sounds a lot like Computer Science, or Software Engineering πŸ™‚

The major difference between the other degrees is the coverage on computer hardware. This includes things like how a processor works, the digital logic behind it, and its electrical underpinnings (mosfets something something).

As part of the teaching, we learnt VHDL, which is a description language for digital logic – think of AND, OR, NOR, XOR gates. We used that to design some simple systems – not on actual hardware ($$$) but by way of a special class of chips called FPGAs. And super-slow simulation.

‘Oporto(s)’ closes 11pm, and McDonalds is (unfortunately?) 247

If I hated the Electrical Engineering courses, do I regret picking my Computer Engineering degree? (I could have avoided it all if I’d simply transferred to the mainstream Computer Science program). Not really, enter my fourth year thesis project:

I did my thesis project “A Driver Configuration Framework for the Argus Platform” with great help from Daniel Murphy who helped me hack on the Linux kernel to get it booting on soft processor cores. This was all part of one of the school’s research projects. (Read: FPGAs for research). I’d like to say I’m now fairly quick on the linux terminal, vim, and better at debugging ;P

Nick, Daniel and I would be the last ones to leave the Lyre lab at midnight (literal) before heading to McDonalds for food (read: Kensington nightlife on a Friday. actually). Daniel is the kind of guy who is 110% dedicated to working on solving problems. Once, even though he crashed his car on the way to Uni, he still made the rest of the journey to Uni via taxi to help us out on thesis work!

Security Engineering. Work hard and challenge the assumptions!

Towards the end of my studies, the school had just begun to really pick up on the cyber security courses. Perhaps if I started Uni a few years later I would probably have done more security courses. Although the courses are quite new (disorganised at times)… the staff are very dedicated. Many of the lecturers have full time day jobs.

Watch this! – Brendan is very professional πŸ™‚ #COMP9447

The above clip gives good insight into the cyber education program at UNSW. Australia needs more cyber security educators and teaching!

CBS made Uni.

Lastly, if there was anything I got out of Uni, it was what I got out of Campus Bible Study… yep. Quite honestly it definitely made me think lots about my Christian faith. I reckon they were the most worthwhile hours spent on campus.


Some of my coursemates have already returned to their home country (overseas students), others still in/am from Syd. As we finish Uni, it’s time to start working in the real world :O