Sam Thompson

Sam (he/him) is studying towards a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) in Computer Science.

Programme: Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) (BAdvSci(Hons))

Subject: Computer Science

“Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a love for computers and mathematics. I learnt to program and make videogames at first when I was 13, and ever since then I’ve enjoyed making games and teaching myself more about the topic. Throughout high-school, two of my three favourite subjects were always digital technology and calculus (the other being drama).

“I grew up living in Auckland, so I wanted to stay in the city. I had heard good things about the University of Auckland, and in particular their computer science department.

“I was fortunate enough to receive the University of Auckland Top Achiever Scholarship for my first year of university. This helped me significantly, as from my house in Henderson, it takes over an hour and a half on public transport to reach the University, so having access to the halls was extremely valuable, especially for my first year when I was getting settled in.

My favourite part of the [BAdvSci(Hons) Computer Science] programme is the fact that it’s not all the same specific topic. I’m able to learn about the theory of computation and the mathematics behind it, all the way to how computers are set up and how they communicate with other devices. However, I am looking forward to my third year and beyond, where I start to specialise.

Sam Thompson

“For the past several months I have been working as a Research Assistant for the master’s student Sebastian Dunn at the University. The project is about DNA visualisation for first year Biology students in virtual reality. The students start off inside of a laboratory, and then they shrink all the way down to the scale of DNA, where they can manipulate it, connect it up, and inspect different representation models*. To create this, we have been using the Unity game engine, which my friend (the other research assistant) and I have been using to make video games since we were kids. I’ve really enjoyed being able to use my passion to contribute to a research project, and I’ve found the exposure to working with and around researchers invaluable.

“I’ve made some very good friends at the University, and I love the environment of being around like-minded people who share the same passions as I. The Game Developer’s guild has been a great uni club, which has organised several excellent events, and is how I was able to find out about the research assistant job in the first place.

“Once I graduate, ideally, I’d like to continue to get my PhD eventually, and I’d also love to travel at some stage.”

*The virtual reality DNA experience has been showcased publicly at a number of different public engagement events, beginning with the Rotary National Science & Technology Forum 2021 and at the MOTAT STEM Fair 2021.