Prizes for outstanding Mearns students

Thomas McMillan (Far left) from Portlethen
Thomas McMillan (Far left) from Portlethen

Two Mearns computing students have won awards for their outstanding academic performance at Robert Gordon University (RGU).

Computer Science students Thomas McMillan (35), from Stonehaven and Fraser Barclay (19), from Portlethen, both picked up awards at the annual School of Computing Science and Digital Media prize giving ceremony.

Fraser Barclay (Front centre) from Stonehaven

Fraser Barclay (Front centre) from Stonehaven

Thomas, who has just graduated with first class honours, was awarded the final year class prize, while second year student Fraser was presented with a ConocoPhillips award.

Former Mackie Academy pupil Thomas moved to London when he was 16 where he was a DJ and managing director of a café bar in Covent Garden. When he sold his company 10 years later he decided that it was time for a career change and moved back to Scotland to obtain his degree.

He said: “I chose Computer Science because it is a brilliant subject with boundless career opportunities at the end of it and opens up possibilities to work anywhere in the world.

“It was a five year degree including a one year placement during which I worked at Marine Lab in Aberdeen as a statistical programmer writing functions to calculate pollutants in fish across Scotland.

“The placement was extremely challenging but an amazing experience. I got to go to Copenhagen for a week as a data specialist for an important conference regarding pollutants across all European waters and talk to top scientists about their data which was a brilliant experience.”

Thomas added: “I would say the degree itself has been one of the most life enriching experiences I’ve encountered. I learnt so much about myself during this time and have grown hugely in confidence and personal development.

“The teaching at RGU was second to none and the staff across the School of Computing are excellent, friendly and really care about the students. The degree was extremely difficult but that makes me all the more proud that I walked out with first class honours.

“I was also class rep for four years and involved in open days for the school and various extracurricular projects including meeting secondary school pupils and telling them the benefit and importance of choosing a career in STEM subjects, particularly computing.

“With my degree you can pretty much go and do whatever you want - the possibilities are endless.”

Talking about his prize, Fraser said: “I passed first year with distinction but narrowly missed out on the award that year. This fuelled my determination to strive for it in second year which I have accomplished after receiving straight As, again passing with distinction.

“I have found the course engaging and challenging and I look forward to this continuing.”

He added: “I am currently on my placement year as an ICT Solutions Analyst at Aberdeenshire Council working on the redesign of the corporate website and all the school websites across Aberdeenshire along with a number of smaller projects and my day-to-day tasks.

“I would like to express my gratitude to RGU, ConocoPhillips and all others involved.”