My name is Michael Loughan and I left Aquinas in June 2008. I am a Computer Science student at Queen’s University Belfast, aiming to graduate in 2012. The range of modules offered in the Computer Science pathway is extremely diverse; from networking to games programming, from architecture to multimedia! During Level 1 and Level 2 at Queen’s, I was introduced to a number of previously unused languages, and worked on a number of projects, both individual and group based. Java, C#, and .NET were some of the technologies used for these projects. I have found these projects extremely rewarding, as I have been able to develop my technical skills, as well as my interpersonal skills while working as part of a team. I have included a short summary of each project below.

An enjoyable task during Level 1 was to create a small game using Adobe Director and Lingo code, which was to be embedded on a small XHTML website. I developed a simple balloon shooter game called ‘Sky Blaster’, as well as supporting documentation and a professional DVD. From this project I learned effective time management skills, as well as improving my technical knowledge with a new programming language; Lingo.

In Level 2 the Games Programming assignment was to create a game using Microsoft XNA. This was a team project, and I was involved heavily in coding, as well as creating the images and animations for the system. Our team decided to re-create the classic 90s game ‘Super Mario World’. I contributed to the documentation and organised team meetings to discuss progress with other team members. I feel this project gave me a useful insight into Microsoft Visual Studio, as I had previously not used this package as a development environment.

As part of the Level 2 Software Engineering module the task was to create a multiplayer, networked ‘air hockey’ game using C#. This was a team project, and due to the size of the task, required careful planning and consideration beforehand. Thankfully, this paid off, and we managed to deliver a fully working system on time. I worked heavily on the networking aspect of this project, establishing connections between server and client. Again, Microsoft Visual Studio was used as the development environment, and I found it easy to use, having previously used it in the Games Programming module.

At the end of Level 2 I was presented with the McKenna Memorial Award. This is an award for the student who achieves the highest average marks on the BSc/BEng in Computer Science.

During Level 2 I secured a placement position with Liberty Information Technology, and began placement in September 2010. During my time at Liberty Information Technology I worked on supporting and enhancing a document creation system. This project had a strong focus on databases, and although I had no previous database experience, training was provided and I quickly learned how to use the language. Throughout my year at Liberty, I feel I have learned a lot, in terms of the skills required to integrate into the work place, as well as the technical knowledge required to carry out the job. As Liberty IT provides services to the US based insurance company Liberty Mutual, I feel I have developed my communication skills, and can now communicate effectively through various means, for example telephone calls, conference calls, instant messaging and e-mail. I feel the experience gained during my time at Liberty IT has given me a real insight into the IT sector, as I got to experience development and support on a first-hand basis.

This year I’m starting back to Queen’s to complete the final year of my degree pathway. I have been lucky to secure a graduate position with Liberty Information Technology, and will be starting full time employment with them in summer 2012.