Jesse Read

Professor in the Computer Science department at École Polytechnique - Paris, France

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences with Honours
  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • Software Engineering (Honours Programme)
  • Computer Science

Landing a job at an engineering school in France comes with its own challenges, even for an ambitious graduate with a fire in his belly.

Jesse Read graduated from the University of Waikato with his PhD in Computer Science in 2010 and is now a Professor in the Computer Science department at École Polytechnique in France.

To secure the position, Jesse not only needed to learn French but needed an additional ‘habilitation degree’ - the highest university degree on offer in Europe.

It also required a PhD from a reputable research group which Jesse achieved thanks to his studies at the University of Waikato.

“Having got my PhD in the Machine Learning Group at Waikato helped enormously,” Jesse says.

Born in Auckland, Jesse moved to Waikato at the age of 13 where he attended Fraser High School.

After high school, Jesse took a gap year to save enough money so he didn’t need a student loan.

Having already taken up computer programming as a hobby during his year off, enrolling at the University seemed like an obvious option for Jesse.

“Waikato was local and it had a good reputation, particularly in computer science.”

At first, Jesse wanted a degree that would let a future employer that he was a good computer programmer.

But there was much more than that.

“Getting a good degree is fundamental, but the so-called ‘soft-skills’ become increasingly important beyond that. Following on to a PhD or other advanced studies, self-motivation and time management are just as key as the core subject matter learned in undergraduate studies.”

He also encourages other students to learn to write well in natural language (English), saying it’s just as important as writing good computer code when it comes to publishing research.

Don’t neglect maths either, he adds.

“If anything, mathematics is a great abstraction that allows you to communicate technical ideas with people from other fields, like statistics and engineering, that are not necessarily great at computer programming.”

Jesse is enjoying life as a university lecturer, especially in rapidly evolving fields like computer science and artificial intelligence.

“Even today it’s necessary to keep on top of recent research.”

Read more about Computing & Mathematical Sciences at the University.

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