Software Engineer UK - Simon




Simon works as a software engineer at our Chippenham office.

What is your job and what does your work involve?

I am a software engineer working for SCISYS, which predominantly involves programming in C++. Most of my day-to-day work is spent programming to develop new features or fix issues in software. I work closely with members of my project team to discuss solutions to problems and figure out the best course of action. Occasionally I also visit the customer to help integrate our software into their systems and fix any issues they’re having.


What is your educational background?

I went to Loughborough University and did a Master’s in computer science. After graduating, I stayed on to do a PHD in multi-agent systems. That was difficult but a lot of fun, although I don’t think it quite prepared me for the working world. It all revolved around software and programming in general. That said, my C++ was self-taught, so I didn’t really have any formal education in C++. I had plenty of experience and knowledge in other languages. 

Tell us about your career at SCISYS so far.

I’ve been working here for just over a year and a half. My career has been good and very enjoyable. I think my case is slightly unusual because I’ve worked on only one project throughout this time. My understanding is generally that you are moved around a bit, you work on lots of different projects and you get a lot of experience in a variety of areas. In my case I came onto the project and have stuck with it throughout.

For me personally that was fantastic. I’ve shifted around areas of the project, so even though I was not experienced in different projects initially I have now worked on a variety of aspects. I started off just programming the software, experienced unit testing, learnt SNMP for networking and coded the interface to pieces of hardware.

So, even though I’ve only been on one project I’ve done a load of different things. I’m one of these people who likes to jump in and help out wherever I can. So I’ve done graduate career fairs and helped out with new starters. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to get involved. It has been fantastic and everyone here is very friendly and nice to work with.

What tools and skills do you use in your role?

Tools: I work with C++ and use Qt developer as my IDE. I use SNMP and DDS for network communication. Geotrans, which is a piece of coordinate conversion software. SVN and Bugzilla together; SVN is our revision control system for the project and Bugzilla tracks issues with the software and assignment of work.

Skills: Programming in general, lots of problem-solving skills, especially working at SCISYS. They don’t babysit you here, they give you a problem to fix and give you the freedom to figure it out and solve it yourself. Of course there’s always help if you need it. Teamwork; you work with other people on your project and find solutions, if someone has a problem and you have expertise in that area, they come to you and you help them out.  


What kind of projects are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on a project that is creating a platform management system for a vehicle. It essentially takes the vehicle’s sensors, system and equipment from anything attached to the vehicle and displays it for the crew to view and gives them an interface to control these devices. It’s very entertaining and interesting work.


What do you like most about your job at SCISYS?

The one thing I like the most is the people I work with. I think they’re all fantastic - maybe a bit quirky but really good to work with and all very highly skilled. Coming from university, I wasn’t really prepared for real-world projects. I could code - just not to a “professional standard” because that’s not really what gets taught at university.

I had a lot of help from people guiding me, giving me advice and improving my abilities. Now it’s at the point where I feel like a valued member of the team with the people I work with, where I can give other people advice on how things can be done. I’ve only worked here a year and a half and they consider me a senior member of the team. They know that they can give me anything and I’ll get on and do it. A close second is the actual projects that we work on, they are really very interesting, and I enjoy it and like learning a lot about it.


What, in your opinion, are some emerging trends in your specific field?

I don’t really know, but personally I think we’re going to move towards a lot more unmanned vehicles. My PhD involved programming Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and personally I think in the future we’re going to get a lot more commercial applications. There are still a lot of difficult problems to solve before we see wide usage, but you can see with the Google self-driving car and Amazons UAV delivery service that there are lots of incredible applications.

Text & photo: Victoria Whitehead, work experience.