Learning F# and games programming at the Applied Games Group during A-levels

Last week we had James Budnik over for a “work experience week”: a nice opportunity for British high school students to get a feel for what it is like to sit in an office all day and a way to gather some extra data to make an informed study career decision.  It was good fun to have him over and to see him work on his first ever computer program. 

It brought back memories of my first coding experience on my old TI 99/4A, with a squeaking tape recorder, a black and white TV, and an elementary form of basic. We have come a long way since then. James could start with a slick laptop fitted with a silent hard disk, a high-res colour screen and F#  instead of basic!

Here is what he wrote himself about the experience.  –Onno

My name is James Budnik and I have just completed a week’s work experience from the 25th to the 29th of June here at the Applied Games Group. As the end of term drew near for me after the completion of my AS examinations I had the opportunity to apply for work experience.  Instead of applying to any old local company I decided I would look for a placement further a field that would allow me to see where subject choices may lead me. I am personally very interested in Computer Science and I am taking the A levels with an aim to study it at university. After a great deal of searching I discovered Microsoft Research’s website, whose combination of exciting cutting edge technology and obvious relevance to Computer Science was exactly what I was looking for.  I was lucky enough to get a place (thanks to Mel Digny for her help with that), at the Applied Games Group, at the envy of many of my classmates.

For the duration of my time here I was with Phil, Onno and Lukasz who I had the chance to talk with over the course of the five days, giving me an insight into what they do. This was useful as it let me see a whole range of roles within the department: Phil as a developer, Onno as a researcher and Lukasz as an intern, which has helped me think about what kind of path I would like to take. It was also pleasing for me to see how enthusiastic many members of this department were about what they do. After some discussion of what I would like to accomplish during my time here it was decided I would look at programming in the F# language. This was the first time I have encountered programming which I found both challenging and rewarding. I began with a few introductory tasks but eventually I was given a project to write a game of Tic Tac Toe in the new language I had learned. Through a great deal of trial and error and extensive help from members of the Applied Games Group I have managed to complete this objective. It’s very satisfying to see something you have programmed come to life, as I’m sure many of you reading this have experienced firsthand a great deal more than I have.

I am very grateful to Phil, Onno and Lukasz whose time, help and enthusiasm have made this both innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. I leave now even keener to pursue a career in Computer Science thanks to this experience and I hope to be fortunate enough to return here in the future, not as a student, but as employee.

James Budnik


Comments (1)

  1. james budnik says:

    hi guys!! great to see that you’ve put this online!! love it!! 😛

    hope your all ok, would be great to hang out with the game-gang again :)

    drop me a txt some time 07905908783 that way ill have your numbers too!!  speak to you soon

    J-Budster x