Shaun Burnell

Having completed his Bachelor’s degree majoring in Computer Science and Psychology, Shaun Burnell chose to go further with a Master of Computer Science.

Shaun looks directly into the camera with a laptop in front of him. Computer screens are seen in the background.

“I wanted to pursue courses related to artificial intelligence and machine learning, and this programme seemed like a good option as it offers a combination of coursework and research. I also felt it could offer me a good understanding of where the industry was going,” he says.

His research focused on classification of streaming data, with a particular focus on text classification. “I really enjoyed learning about text processing and classification in one of my earlier courses and was keen on doing a project focused around it. Text processing has many practical applications these days— you see it in play every time you do a Google search or have autocomplete recommend a word. More specifically, I looked at how genetic programming can be used for classifying text on streaming data. It’s a relatively new field, relevant in times like this when social media generates data at unprecedented rates.”

The connections he made during his programme gave Shaun the opportunity to work with a local technology-based start-up. “I was able to use some of the skills I picked up last year to implement machine learning systems into their production. Clearly, the skills that the programme helps you learn are what the industry is looking for.

“I was also able to interact first-hand with cutting-edge research in this field, as the University has some of the top researchers in evolutionary computing. Being able to hear them speak and understand their perspectives greatly added to my own learning,” he says.

“I found it very exciting that some topics I studied had been studied only in the past few years. Not only did I see the conversations about these topics develop, but the work I’ve done contributes to research in these areas. And that’s a great feeling.