Gwyn Cole – Computing Science
From software engineer to filmmaker
Gwyn Cole says he has been influenced by his experiences at Staffordshire University throughout his life.
Following a successful 18-year career in software engineering, he retrained in 2012 and now makes short films and training videos, with clients including the NHS.
And despite the two fields being quite different, Gwyn says he could apply the skills learned at Staffordshire to both careers.
“My software career came to end as I found myself drawn to the world of story and film,” says the 44-year-old, from Newtown in Mid-Wales. “I’ve approached my education with the same enthusiasm and vigour, using many of the same learning techniques that I had gained at Staffordshire University. I use the same way of thinking, the same methodical approaches and the same problem solving skills.
“As a student, I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of the high quality education that the University gave me. Like Steve Jobs famously said, ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.’ This is so true! As I connect the dots looking backwards, the University played a key role throughout my life.”
Gwyn chose to study at Staffordshire due to the reputation of the computing department. He graduated with a computing science degree in 1994 and relished the challenge of applying what he had learned on his course to his professional life.
By 1997 he was working in London for one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies and just eight years after graduating he was in demand as a speaker within the UK software engineering community.
This led to him co-writing a technical computing book in 2002, Developing WMI Solutions: A Guide to Windows Management Instrumentation, which is still on the recommended reading list for Microsoft’s Developer Network (MSDN).
“Writing the book was a great personal achievement,” says Gwyn, who keeps in touch with many of the friends he made as a student. “The education at Staffordshire University helped me to figure out what the right questions were and this ultimately enabled me to write a book that was aimed at educating others.
“The placement I worked at as part of my sandwich degree course turned out to be one of the pivotal milestones in my education. I had to find my own way of putting theory into practice in a methodical, repeatable and structured way.
“Although I didn’t realise it at the time, the experience shaped all my future projects. The lecturers, the study, the assignments all played a part in shaping how I approach difficult challenges.”
Gwyn now plans to pursue filmmaking and continue to develop his skills.
“Who knows where this road will lead?” he says. “One of the most significant lessons I learned at Staffordshire was the importance of core principles.
“In my new life as a filmmaker, I continue to learn from the best and continue to learn the core principles of story, cameras, lighting and all things connected with film.
“My life has changed and my way of thinking has in many ways been influenced by the great people who are a part of the academic institution.”