Matthew Watts in physics lab

Matthew Watts

Bachelor of Science, majored in physics and computer science
Matthew completed his Bachelor of Science, majoring in physics and computer science. In his degree, he pursued his passion and also developed his coding skills.

Why did you choose your degree?

I have been interested in mathematics since I was in early primary school. This passion extended into higher education (secondary and tertiary) where I also discovered a love of science.

Whilst undertaking my first year studies, I took elective programming; a skill I had tried to develop in the past to no avail. I quickly realised I had a knack for coding, and thoroughly enjoyed the theory behind creating systems that perform specific tasks, and the methodology used to evaluate and improve these systems. I enrolled in a double degree and my third major in Computer Science a year later.

What challenges did you face when transitioning into university life in Sydney?

Life at university in Sydney is a major paradigm shift when compared with my life prior. An immediate challenge is finding yourself in a new place, knowing nobody, and in an environment where the rules are different to any previous experience.

An important part of maturing to move to university is becoming accustomed to independent living, and this was no less a struggle for me having skills in place prior.

University life is an adjustment from high school where most things are laid out simply for you. At university, you have the freedom to make your own rules for your study, but this comes with the responsibility of maintaining your motivation, dedication and organisation with regard to subjects and their requirements.

Juggling independent living and a self-driven study schedule is a daunting task for anyone just out of school. The best way to deal with these issues is to have a plan. I have found across my four years in Sydney, that having a plan to come back to and review (even if you don’t write it down necessarily) always reassures me that I am on the right track and I am achieving the goals I have set for myself.

What do you like the most about studying at the University of Sydney?

The University of Sydney has many resources available for students. I have been lucky enough to learn about many of the programs and tools the university has to offer through my role as a Student Ambassador.

As an undergraduate student, I find that the products and services the University invests in and makes available are invaluable in aiding my study, and my personal development. For example, the University subscribes to Microsoft’s Imagine Store, and so I have found that a worthwhile tool to access and download programs that aid in producing industry standard documentation for assignments.

The University’s large international population, and its advocacy for international study, means it is a meeting place for a wealth of people from different backgrounds and contexts. Again, this resource is unique to the University, and the opportunity to learn from peers both from across Australia and across the globe is second to none. This supplements my usual study regime by broadening the horizons on which a fundamental understanding of course content is built, and highlights the impact that education has on myself and the world around me.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I am currently halfway through completing my degrees at the University of Sydney, after which I seek to pursue further study in the field of cyber security. I have many options currently available to me, however I am aiming for a scholarship opportunity in the UK for PhD studies at Oxford.

Also on my mind is future employment, where my placement within the IT industry has already set me up for promising graduate opportunities within the government sector.

Any advice for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are thinking about studying at the University of Sydney?

Studying at the University is a rewarding challenge. The best advice possible is to ensure you take every opportunity to find what you enjoy most, and try new things. Paths to a great education are forged by getting out of your comfort zone and giving everything a go.

Raise your hand and say yes - you’ll be glad that you did.