Master of Science (Computer Science)
Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
From Hamilton's Hillcrest High to Silicon Valley, it's been quite a journey for computer science grad Gian Perrone.
Gian knew early on what he wanted to be - a computer scientist.
During Year 11 at Hillcrest High School, Gian sat the University of Waikato Computer Science Scholarship exam and gained provisional entrance to the University's Computer Science Programme.
"Although I originally intended to carry on in high school and finish Year 12, the fact that I was able to gain provisional entrance to the Computer Science Department meant that I was really ready to specialise further and dive into the subject I loved."
Gian has always been drawn to the research side of studying and did a significant amount of independent research during his degree. "The BSc ended up being a really great degree for me. I was interested in pursuing a very research-focused specialisation, so I was able to pick a programme that really maximised the amount of research I was able to do as an undergraduate."
He's full of praise for the leadership and mentoring he received from computer science staff, in particular former lecturer Dr David Streader and Professor Steve Reeves. "They influenced me hugely and were really able to challenge and stimulate me. I was given a lot of freedom to read widely and they taught me a lot on being a researcher."
The formal methods and software engineering skills Gian honed at the University of Waikato led to him completing his PhD at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and it was there he was finally able to meet some of his "academic heroes".
"The highlight for me was making that transition from standing back in awe at the cutting edge of computer science to being actively involved in it, and now my career is helping define the ways in which computing and information enrich our lives."
Life in San Francisco
Now, Gian's a software engineer at Square, Inc in San Francisco. Square, Inc is a mobile payments company enabling small businesses and merchants to accept credit card payments using a smart phone or tablet. Gian works in the distributed systems that are responsible for moving over US$15 billion each year in mobile payments.
"It's a really exciting time to be working in Silicon Valley. Square, Inc is growing really quickly and that brings a whole host of scaling, availability and reliability challenges which are just the kind of problems computer scientists love solving".