All the way back to mid-April of this year, I had the pleasure of visiting Aberystwyth to represent the University of Portsmouth and present my Final Year Project at the 10th Anniversary BCS Ada Lovelace Colloquium.
I sent in an application alongside my dissertation abstract to the poster contest in February after the encouragement of my Project Supervisor. To my surprise, I was selected as one of the poster contest finalists and invited to present my project in Wales! I was majorly ecstatic, especially since I had found out I was selected to present my project at another conference after receiving my acceptance to Aber – it was an excellent 30 minutes of receiving wonderful news. I had the best three days in Wales and definitely didn’t want to leave.
Day 1: Tuesday 11th April 2017
Day 1 was, of course, spent mostly travelling to Wales. Hailing from the South Coast of England, to the North Coast of Wales, it took around six hours by train. This didn’t phase me since I had a bucket of excitement in tow with my Final Year Project. I tucked away on the cushiony seats of Great Western Railway writing-up my dissertation. (Two weeks away until the deadline, every minute counts and this was a trip specifically for my project! Dedication at level 100.) The Welsh countryside views were also a beautiful backdrop alongside the soundtrack to Stormzy’s #GSAP album. (Yes, this really was the scenario…)
Three trains, a very over-priced coffee and one-carriage switch-over later, we had arrived! The Aberystwyth Train Station was filled with fellow Colloquium finalists and project posters aplenty.
I stopped by my accommodation to check-in, drop off my luggage and freshen up before heading to the campus to register and pick up my ID for the following day.
Growing up in a seaside town, I love being by the ocean. The sound of the waves brings me total, utter bliss. I can never get bored of the way one can look out onto the vast open space of the coast and see how the sky meets the sea or the way the sun sets and nature gives you a front-row seat to a spectacular show. Transitioning from blues, to soft pinks and fiery oranges, to the twilight blanket covering the town. Aber definitely brought all of this, and then some more, to the table!
I spent the first evening exploring the town and getting to know more about the place I would be calling home for the next two days. The colourful architecture was so gorgeous! Adorned with white picket fences, it definitely gave a distinct seaside-town look. The one vital thing I didn’t realise was that most of the places close at 9:00pm… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ This had made finding somewhere to grab a bite rather difficult. After a quick scouring through TripAdvisor, I found a cosy Mediterranean restaurant close to the city centre and served halal meat! I happily tucked into my Lamb Algiers before calling it a night and prepare for the next day.
Day 2: Wednesday 12th April 2017
Day 2 was conference day! Attended by over 150 delegates, a huge handful of industrial professionals and an array of speakers as well as an inspiring careers panel, it was a day to remember.
I scurried down to the campus with my poster and artefact in tow bright and early to set up my booth and have my project handouts ready for software demos and any user testing. It was an excellent opportunity to examine how users from my target audience would operate my software as well as gain any feedback for improvement. The evaluations went better than expected and I had plenty of content to write in my project!
The conference was dotted with speakers from each corner of the industry who had their own story to tell. They were all so empowering and inspiring, you could feel the motivation to achieve your goals within. The talks had concluded with a careers panel who shared their wisdom with the freshers and soon-to-be-graduates on how to excel in this industry and never to let the feeling of fear overwhelm you. “JUST DO IT” was echoed aplenty and something which has resonated with me ever since (with my personal twist: “shoot your shot and just do it!”)
The day had finished with an after-conference social at the Students’ Union with plenty of cake and refreshments.
Day 3: Thursday 13th April 2017
The final day in Aberystwyth was dedicated to strolling across the seaside and taking in the sound of the waves; a final goodbye to the wonderful small town in Wales which had given me so many memorable moments and a network of like-minded inspiring individuals who will all definitely go on to achieve so many amazing things.
Before I hopped on the Arriva Train Wales home, I stopped by Medina for some decadent sweets and coffee. There are many reasons I would always love to return to this town, the shortbread from Medina being one of them if I am honest.
The BCS Women Lovelace Colloquium was the first large-scale conference I had presented at. I will always be so grateful for this opportunity and proud to represent my university. The BCS Women Lovelace Colloquium had given me confidence to go out there and achieve my goals, become more of a proactive individual and gain a list of networks months before graduation! It is definitely a worthwhile experience and one of the best things I ever did for my academia. (After the conference and handing in my dissertation, I had won the prize for School of Computing Best Business Solution Project from the University of Portsmouth.)
The 2018 Colloquium will be held in Sheffield Hallam University and I urge you all to apply! Hand on my heart, it is definitely something that will open so many doors for you and I am so happy I was part of this excellent event for the 2017 leg.
Details can be found here: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/cs/outreach/lovelace-colloquium/