Published 10 August 2020

An interview with Alan Pedrassoli Chitayat

Tell us about your link with the University. What course did you do and what college you were linked to?

I did a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science, with a year in industry. I spent my year in industry working for a company based in the Department of Computer Science, Cybula, and so I’ve always been involved with what’s happening in CS.

During my time at the University I was a member of Goodricke College. 

What did you like most about being at the university as a student?

I loved all of the initiatives and little events that happen through the year. When I first joined I took part in a ‘Raspberry Pi’ event, a competition for first year CS students that included a challenge to make an automated AI play battleships against other competitors. I had great fun coming up with my own AI and despite not winning the competition it was a great way to meet people. In fact, that is how I met my best mate!

There were also lots of opportunities to get involved in hackathons and game dev challenges and through these events, the chance to meet people, make friends and share new experiences.

I got really involved in sports clubs during my time as a student and enjoyed the chance to compete at different levels. From inter-college events to University level tournaments, York offers the best of both worlds when it comes to sports. I agreed to play darts for Goodricke because the team needed another player but it ended up being one of the most enjoyable experiences and I became part of the Goodricke darts team. I played floorball at University level and still play for the club today!

Tell us about your current position and how you ended up working where you do?

I work as a Software Engineer at Weavr, a company focused on developing tools and models to enhance esports audience experiences. My main role is to develop infrastructure to retrieve data from live esports games using machine learning. This isn’t as straightforward as it seems! There is a vast amount of complex data which is always changing. 

The journey to my current role began back in my third year as an undergraduate with CS, when I applied for a job at Digital Creativity Labs (DC Labs) working on a research project investigating data generated from people playing Dota 2. This small job, which I did whilst studying, was a great opportunity to meet people from the academic side, including people from other departments. Working as part of DC Labs put me in a very good position to apply for my current job.

Tell us about DC Labs and WEAVR?

Digital Creativity Labs is an interdisciplinary research centre working across interactive media and games. DC Labs is a really good group for collaborating with other researchers and academics. I found that as someone with a CS background, getting to talk to someone with a background in TFTI, Psychology or Music is a really great way to get a different perspective and input.

DC Labs is University Research Partner to Weavr, an industry-led consortium exploring new audience experiences that are presented by the coming together of data analytics and immersive technologies in the context of esports. Weavr develops tools and models that can be displayed through various modes of consuming content for entertainment including mobile apps, VR and twitch overlays.

How has the University of York helped you succeed?

The experience I gained studying for my degree has definitely helped me to succeed. From maths foundations to neural networks and machine learning, the course covered a wide variety of subjects and modules were taught by people with a vast amount of knowledge in their field.

The support I received during my year in the industry also helped me to succeed. In fact, embarking on a degree with a year in industry was the best decision I ever made. I gained so much experience during that year and met many different people, building new connections and truly understanding how the industry works. This experience was incredibly valuable but I couldn’t have done it without the support of the Year in Industry Coordinator who helps with things such as CV checks, workshops, and setting up interviews with prospective employers.

Where do you hope to go next?

I’ve just been accepted onto the IGGI (Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence) Programme and in October 2020 I’ll be returning to the University to start my PhD. If that’s not a testament to how much I’ve enjoyed my time here then I don’t know what is!

My research will be focused on understanding player decision making based on game events. I’ll be using a lot of the tools and techniques I’ve tried during my degree and my role at Weavr and I’m excited to put that experience into new research as part of my PhD programme.

Do you have any advice for incoming students? 

Get involved in as much as you can that interests you, and do a year in industry - it’s the best thing I’ve ever done!