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Meet our alumni: Amelia Gould


Blue graphic with mortar boards and the words Meet our Alumni

Amelia used her degree in Engineering and Computer Science as the basis for a career in the Royal Navy which eventually led to her current role as head of engineering on BAE Systems’ Naval Ships Combat Systems team. 

What course did you study here and when?  

I studied an undergraduate degree in Engineering & Computer Science between 1996 - 2000. What was your background before that (where you come from, which school, other University or college etc prior to Oxford)? I lived in East London. I went to my local comprehensive to do my GCSEs, and was then awarded an Assisted Place to a private school for my A-levels (City of London School for Girls).  

What attracted you to studying Computer Science as a subject?  

I originally applied to study Engineering Science and in my first year that is what I studied. Sadly, in that time I discovered that no matter how hard I tried I could not understand Mechanics. My tutor suggested that I dropped the Mechanics part of the course and as I was good at Maths and logic I took up Computer Science instead. I had never programmed a computer before, and did not know much about the course, but I was willing to give it a go. It is a decision I have never regretted! I loved the course, and though I found some bits really hard the guys on my course were great and helped me when I needed it (I was the only girl in my year doing Computer Science). I wish I had been exposed to Computer Science earlier as I would have definitely chosen it straight away.  

What aspects of the course you studied here did you particularly enjoy? 

My project, (which was related to 3G Mobile Phones) and the open way the course was taught. It was taught very well, and I am very proud to have been awarded a First class degree, one of only two that year in Engineering and Computer Science.  

What did you do when you left Oxford? 

I joined the Royal Navy. They had sponsored me through university, so once I graduated, I joined properly and served for a further seven years.  

How has the course you studied here helped you in your current profession? 

The course taught me how to think, and how to approach problems logically. I learnt the principles of programming and Computer Science, which meant that I could interpret what may be going wrong when I was working as a Test and Trials Engineer. I can also now understand how algorithms are constructed and a system architecture when it is being described by my software engineers.  

What advice would you give to current students on applying their knowledge in the workplace, when they leave university? 

Try to keep an open mind about the career options available to you with your new-found knowledge. Computer Science is about much more than programming, I have worked on other parts of the engineering lifecycle – as a Business Analyst writing requirements and as a Tests and Trials Engineer breaking software for a living.  

If we went back in time and asked, what would the student you have thought about what you are currently doing – would you have been surprised, proud, amazed? 

All three! I never thought I would end up being Head of Engineering of a cutting-edge business, but I am very proud to have got here and amazed by the great people and interesting things I did along the way.