School of Computing, Media & the Arts

Student views

Tom Craven

Tom got his job through ExpoTees.

Tom  Craven

BSc (Hons) Computer Games Programming, 2012

The course had a strong focus on everything that the industry expects and made it really easy to transition from the final year of education to paid employment.

What brought you to study at Teesside University?

I chose games programming because I liked playing computer games and wanted to go into a job making them. I’d enjoyed programming in my spare time during secondary school and college (and was a terrible artist) so I chose the programming aspect of making games. I found out about Teesside by researching games programming courses and attended an open day. Teesside was originally my insurance until I attended an open day and switched it to my first choice. I was really impressed with the campus and facilities the university offered.

What was the course like?

The modules for games programming were varied, interesting and were relevant to the industry – C++, strong focus on maths, algorithms, etc. and modules relating to optimisation under memory constrained environments. The course had a strong focus on everything that the industry expects and made it really easy to transition from the final year of education to paid employment.

I was a founding member of Teesside Amateur Boxing Society, which won new sports team of the year. That was pretty cool, and was awesome for my fitness levels.

What are you doing now?

I am working as a Software Development Engineer II, with Amazon.
I’m part of a 16 person team that develops, tests and deploys a video playback solution to multiple platforms including PS3, PS4, Xbox One, and various smart TVs and set top boxes. The sub-team I’m in consists of me and three other people. We focus on core features of the video player, for example fast start up times, memory optimisation, the download heuristics engine, etc.

Our team has shipped software to millions of customers, and the Amazon Instant Video application on PS3 alone has approximately 300,000 video streams every day. Our team’s main goal is to develop the best video playback solution for our customers.

During ExpoTees I talked to two representatives from a company called Push Button. I had a phone and face-to-face interview with them and was offered a permanent job with them as a software development engineer I. The company was bought by Amazon shortly after and I’ve been working for them ever since.

I was hired as part of a two-person team to develop a video player for the PS3. We completed our task and our team shortly grew in size as we were tasked to port this to new platforms. After two years I was promoted to a software development engineer II and asked to be a part of the core features team.

I’m pretty happy at Amazon, the work is constantly changing and I’m frequently out of my comfort zone. I believe it’s important to feel constantly challenged at work and that’s something I’ve found at Amazon.