For Ross Hurley, chipping away at his goal of becoming a computer programmer has ensured he is able to study part-time while maintaining casual work in the industry.
He made the move from Port Macquarie to Newcastle to study a degree in computer science at the University of Newcastle in 2015.
Ross has been a casual employee as a Process Improvement Programmer with 4D Controls at Rutherford, near Maitland, for over a year now and hopes to complete his degree next year.
“I spontaneously chose to come here during my TAFE IT studies which helped me decide what I wanted to do,” he says.
Ross was a shy and softly spoken student doing a computer course at the Port Macquarie TAFE Campus. Not confident about his future, his TAFE teachers saw his potential and helped him to develop a plan towards achieving his goal of working in computer science.
Ross was able to build on his initial year at TAFE with a second year studying networking. North Coast TAFE had partnered with the University of Newcastle to develop a university pathways program, which gave Ross credits from some of his subjects already studied.
It was at that stage that Ross submitted his second application for a grant from the Hastings Education Fund with a much more strengthened plan.
“The grant was very helpful in my first year as I had to live and get around by myself so the transition from being around family and friends was hard,” says Ross.
“I was very much the ‘poor’ student until I got my current job with 4D Controls.
“With my job, I work solo but I’ve applied a lot of what I’m learning to my job and have used my programming skills to make tailored solutions and employee resources to make life easy for the organisation.
“I can even remotely log in and do IT work from home.”
When asked how helpful doing the TAFE course first, Ross stated that there is a culture in computing where merit is based on special projects done and that uni helps you learn the standards to do that.
“Networking and computer science are quite different fields (although computer-related), but the TAFE networking course was relevant to my job now, and it got me into programming,” Ross says.
“The highlight of my studies so far has been doing some eclectic research-orientated group work with others to help make some AI programs.
“I really like group work where you really get to go into depth and utilise a lot of knowledge and maths from different subjects and apply it to a real world problem and find a solution to it.
“I hope to get into more research-orientated computing work in the future.”