Hey, what about studying computer science?

11 April 2018

Lynley St George web
Lynley St George is graduating with computer science and physics majors.

When she was at high school Lynley St George managed to break three computers. “So I thought I’d come to university and find out more about how they work,” she says.

This month, the 22-year-old of Ngāti Porou descent will graduate from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Science double majoring in Computer Science and Physics.

Lynley actually came to Waikato on a biology scholarship but soon switched to computer science because she realised she didn’t know a lot about it, whereas she’d done biology right through school. “I was so keen to learn, that I thought I could throw a whole lot of subjects into my degree before I realised university doesn’t quite work that way, but I did get to do a paper on traditional Māori weaving in between all my science subjects.”

Lynley is concerned about the lack of women and the lack of Māori taking sciences. She was only one of two women in her physics classes. “But our lecturer was female and she was inspiring,” she says. Pākehā males and international students dominated her computer science classes.

This year, Lynley has started studying for her Master of Science (Research) in computer science, and she’s also working as a research assistant and a mentor for Māori students. “University has helped me connect to my Māori side. I can see the divide between Māori and Pākehā at university and that’s something I’d like to see change.” She's started to learn te reo Māori.

While Lynley's still firming up what she’ll study for her masters degree, it’s likely to be in the field of human-computer interaction. “How we can make computing more accessible to all types of people, make people want to use computers more.”

When Lynley started studying computer science she thought it would just be a matter of learning computer languages such as C# and Java. “But I soon realised that you have to learn how to work with different languages and it’s more important to know the principles of how to pick up a coding language. It’s a subject that’s constantly changing and you have to be able to pick up new ideas and run with them, and it’s really important to be able to work in teams.”

During her study years, Lynley was awarded a Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarship, co-funded by Waikato Regional Council and Waikato Tainui, and she also managed to travel overseas for the first time in her life, thanks to a Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE) scholarship. There, physicists and other academics talked about their research in extreme environments.

"That was an awesome opportunity. I’ve loved my time at Waikato. I like the fact it’s central and it attracts such a mix of people from all walks of life and all around the region. I’ve taken advantage of the range of learning opportunities. I’ve never felt boxed in, I’ve been able to explore and have fun, and if I find an academic’s online profile and they’re researching something I’m interested in, I simply go and knock on their door for a chat."

And outside uni? “I do a lot of ‘nerdy reading’, and for something completely different I really like watching the home organisation channels, seeing all these simple yet effective ideas for storage.”

Related stories

Waikato alumni doing their bit

Three University of Waikato graduates are the driving force behind an innovative project to provide…


Keeping your drone in the air

Joseph Simblett is making a drone control that will fit in the palm of your…

Challenging stereotypes in the digital industry

Alaa Abuellif may be studying in a male-dominated field, but she’s determined to encourage other…

Tyler Marriner

Playing in the blockchain

The blockchain is that decentralised database that keeps all records of digital transactions, but what…

Waikato students take out the grand prize for the NZ Cyber Security Challenge

Hundreds of aspiring cyber-crime fighters tackled a range of increasingly tough tasks, hacking drones and…

Facing the challenge of women in cyber security

The NZ Cyber Challenge is taking up the issue of the under representation of women…

Students fast-track to work

At Rocketspark’s office in Cambridge, the staff all have one thing in common. They are…

Hacking your holiday

Dr Joe Burton looks at how cyber criminals are increasingly targeting the tourism market.

Scott Brown and Thye Way

US ambassador drops in

US Ambassador Scott Brown was keen to hear about research being done in cyber security…

Deterring cyber attacks: old problems, new solutions

Dr Joe Burton looks at how we change responses to cyber attacks.

Cree and Frank web

What on Earth is that?

Scientists are using artificial intelligence to quickly identify pest plants and insects.

How do you deter cyber-attacks in an increasingly complex world?

Dr Joe Burton has been in Estonia at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of…