Student close-up : Graeme Pope

BE (Elec) BSc (Maths)
1st Class Honours
University Medals for both Engineering and Science

Ever since I did work experience in year 10 at the Department of Electrical Engineering, Newcastle University, I wanted to study Electrical Engineering at university.  I was impressed by the robots and projects I had seen and the “toys” that I would have access to.  Towards the end of high school I was very keen on both mathematics and engineering.  Not being able to decide between engineering and mathematics, I decided to study both in a combined degree, with the philosophy that for one extra year, I could get one extra degree.  I chose Sydney University as it came highly recommended to me and I liked the look of its combined engineering-science programme.

Studying electrical engineering was not quite as I expected. 

My 5 year degree turned into a 6 year degree as I also decided to add honours in mathematics.  I never once built a robot, but instead I worked on a project in electrical engineering where we worked on 3D audio and took recordings at the Sydney Opera House.  As part of my degree, I worked for an integrated circuit and telecommunications company where I designed a decoder that could possibly be used for WiMax.  I worked for a company designing new algorithms for anti-virus software, modelled firing ranges for the Australian Defence Department and programmed small microprocessors and massively parallel graphics cards.

None of these areas I ever suspected I would work in, let alone that they existed before I started at Sydney University; however I greatly enjoyed working in all of these areas and am thankful for the opportunities that were opened up to me by studying at Sydney University.  It was some of my lecturers in electrical engineering that invited me to work in these areas and encouraged my interest in  many diverse areas.

In the end I finished up with a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) and a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics), both with First Class Honours.  

I’ve now moved to Zürich, Switzerland where I’m studying at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) doing a Masters in Computer Science and then a PhD in Electrical Engineering.

I’m glad that I also completed a degree in mathematics.  Not only did it help me with my engineering studies, but it enabled me to go into areas that electrical engineers do not typically study: for my mathematics honours I looked at cryptography on elliptic curves.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sydney University and what I studied.  I never thought I would end up studying in Switzerland in an area I had not heard of, but the more one studies, the more options become available, and it is because of Sydney University that I had the opportunity to pursue these paths.