Well, having started my MSc in Geographic Information Science at UCL back in September of last year, it's now starting to come to an end - or at least the teaching part of it is. This evening I have handed in my last piece of coursework, and next week my final exams begin. This semester I'm taking three modules that have exams and each of them is three hours long. They're basically placed a week apart, leaving a nice period in between for revision unlike in previous years in Manchester where I've had a day in between if I'm lucky.
Following the exams I'll be working full-time on my dissertation for the summer. June to September seems like a long time until I start thinking about exactly how much work I will have to do over the summer. Luckily it's work I'll enjoy doing so there are no real issues. Still, I'm sure the summer will go very quickly, hopefully involving lots of time spent in Regents Park and on Hampstead Heath, both of which are really close to where I'm living. If there are any wi-fi hotspots around there, I can even work while I'm there!
For my dissertation I'm lucky enough to be working with a company I've been fascinated by since the early days of the internet. Earlier in the term a GIS developer (who is also a UCL alumni) came in to give a presentation on the company he worked for, Multimap. With this being just at the sort of time when we should have been thinking about a dissertation to take on for the summer months, two things clicked in my head and I thought I'd get in touch with them to see if they had anything I could help them out with as part of my dissertation. I was very hopeful as they were basically doing exactly what I wanted to do - geographic information for the web. My whole course of education has been based on the fact that I'm interested in geography and computing and especially the areas in which they combine. That desire explains my choice of topics at A-level, BSc level and now MSc level. (If only there was some way of combining photography with them as well!)
I was really happy when Multimap got back to me and asked me to come in and meet them over lunch to talk about the possibilities. So now I have a dissertation topic to work on after the exams, in an area that fascinates me and with a great company. What more could I ask for? After I've researched the area in more detail, I'm hoping to create some geographic analysis software to help them out with some of the work they do. I can't really go into it yet, but hopefully will be able to in the future. I've been discussing non-disclosure agreements with them and my course tutor over the past few days and frankly it's fascinating - if a little scary at the same time. Whilst being aware of them, I've never had to deal with NDAs before at all.
The website I created as the final year project for my first degree (BSc Computing and Geography with Industrial Experience) up in Manchester was designed as a project on its own - not being worked on with any organisations - so there were very few restrictions as to what I could do. Originally I would have had more input from other organisations but sadly that plan never worked out, so it was a complete standalone project in the end. I still managed to achieve a comfortable 1st class mark for the project though, which I was extremely pleased with.
So, next thing on my agenda is to make sure I'm prepared for the first of my final exams on Tuesday...