The graduation ceremonies for full-time and part-time students at the University of Ulster moved to Londonderry today as students from the University’s Magee campus received awards from the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Computing and Engineering.
The ceremonies were held in Derry’s Millennium Forum.
At the afternoon ceremony international musician and songwriter Paul Brady received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) in recognition of his services to traditional music and songwriting.
Among the graduates is James Knox, with today marking the culmination of many years of part-time study for the Derry man.
The father of four from the Culmore Road was awarded a BSc Honours degree in Computer Science (Second Class, Upper Division).
The former Post Office employee, who is now an ICT specialist with the Civil Service in the Western Region, admits he has an insatiable appetite when it comes to learning about computers.
Realising that computers were going to have a major impact on the workplace, he decided to study part-time in the evenings and on a day release basis to learn more about them.
In 1996 James took voluntary redundancy from the Post Office and enrolled on the Foundation course for mature students at Magee. From this he progressed to do a HNC in Electronics and Computing at North West Regional College and a Diploma in Teaching ICT before signing on for a degree in Computer Science at Magee.
With a young family to support James says he did not have the luxury of studying full time so he went back to work, first with the Ulster Bank, Stream and Civil Service pensions branch before taking up his current post as an ICT specialist.
“Once you stop learning, you fall behind,” says James, adding that he has no plans to stop.
“My qualifications certainly opened doors for me and I would recommend going back to school. It has been a really positive experience for me.”
Another University of Ulster graduate has designed an innovative new system for car park users that could see pay machines becoming a thing of the past.
Andrew Wallace (22) from Limavady has developed a ticket-less method to access and exit a car park using a mobile phone. Andrew studied for a BSc in Computer Science.
He said: “The biggest advantage of this new system is that motorists won’t have the headache of queuing at pay machines.
“It works through an application installed in your mobile phone which means that you simply hold it in front of a machine and an infrared ray sends a message with a unique identification code to a central database where the information is stored.
“Some organisations already use a system where proximity cards are used to get in and out of car parks — we have one here at the university.
“This is taking that technology a stage further and it could be rolled out to public car parks too. Motorists would also be able to pay for the car park through their mobile phone.
“There would be security benefits because the database would know who is using the car park and how long they were parked there.
“Also if you were visiting an area where there was a lot of crime you wouldn’t have to carry any money.”
Andrew, who created the car parking system for his final year project, would like to see a local company pick up on his idea and develop it.