School of Informatics

Alexandru Brisan

In 2018/19 Alex is his 4th year on our Master of Informatics programme.

Name Alexandru Brisan
Degree Title MInf
Year of study 4/5
Alexandru Brisan

Why Informatics?

I was always fascinated by how complex operations such as the ones we perform on our computers. To me, it was a complete mystery, that I felt I needed to conquer and was thirsty to find out more.

Why Edinburgh?

I knew that I wanted to study at a prestigious University and after a bit of research Edinburgh showed up as being one of the top choices within that category. I was also attracted to the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (in which Edinburgh excels) and that cemented my choice to apply to Edinburgh.

What are your interests outside of studying?

Driving and movies are by far my main interests. I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts, and – for better or for worse – it (the motoring virus) definitely passed along. When I don’t drive, I usually watch a movie or documentary. I enjoy watching them with my friends and am almost a fanatic when it comes to British director Stanley Kubrick. 

Tell us about your time studying with us

I think Edinburgh is a great University to study at, but I would like to focus on three aspects that I’ve found particularly nice whilst studying here:

  1. Being taught by passionate people who are leaders in their field: I have had courses where you could really see that the lecturer was passionate about the course content. Also, being taught by people who are at the forefront of research in most areas meant that I often received insights into content that I think I could not have received otherwise.
  2. Being exposed to top-level employers: big tech companies (Bloomberg, Microsoft, Google, JP Morgan, Sky Scanner, Amazon etc.) usually have a short list of Universities that they prefer to recruit from and Edinburgh usually makes that exclusive list. There are loads of recruitment events during the academic years, providing you with an opportunity to meet new people and potentially get a job out of it.
  3. Getting an opportunity to be actively involved in teaching and administrative processes at University: Informatics is really special within the University in that it offers its honours students an opportunity to work in Teaching Support, by being tutors or demonstrators. Whilst this is certainly rewarding from an academic point of view, one must remember that taking up such a position makes you a staff member, meaning you can get a unique insight into what happens behind the curtains.

What advice would you offer to prospective students?

  1. Try to make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into: you wouldn’t believe the number of people whom I’ve met and who think that Informatics means sitting in front of a computer and writing code all day. There is a fair amount of doing just that, but the profession is much more complex, and especially now with the rise of Artificial Intelligence, Informatics is getting an increasingly humanistic twist. Doing your research on what you will study means that you will have the right expectations of your degree.
  2. Don’t do it for the money. I know a fair amount of people who are studying Informatics because of the comparatively high salaries in the field, and most of them end up not enjoying their degree. You need to put in a lot of man-hours into it, and if you don’t have a genuine passion for what you are doing then it’s very hard to go on.
  3. Make friends! At times the amount of coursework you have can feel like a lot, but Edinburgh has some very good places for socializing. During my time here, I’ve met some amazing new people, and broadened my cultural horizons in ways I had not deemed possible before arriving. These 4 or 5 years will be some of the best of your lives, and you need to live them to the fullest.