My initial placement was with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria but I was withdrawn after one year when it became obvious that organisational difficulties were preventing them making good use of me.
I then chose to move to Kaduna, working for the National Teachers' Institute, a government organisation providing teacher training by distance learning methods. As ICT Coordinator there my role was to improve NTI's use of information technology, thus improving the service provided to their students.
As part of this I developed a web-services-based data entry system for student records, with the server written in Java and running on Apache Tomcat and the client in Visual Basic .Net. I then started training NTI staff in Java programming, deployed the system to NTI's six regional offices and trained users there.
Other projects included setting up an email server and selecting and configuring a library automation system, thus making NTI's library catalogue available on-line. I worked with the staff member in charge of the LAN to improve his skills and carry out various small projects to improve network reliability and availability.While working at NTI I also developed my training and organisational skills, I organised a two-day workshop on library services for 25 participants. All this was carried out in the occasionally difficult environment of Nigeria, with unreliable power supply, difficulties in obtaining equipment and bureaucracy.
During my time in this job I gained experience in working as part of a software development team in a commercial environment. The projects I worked on involved everything from writing assembly code for PIC microcontrollers to developing desktop applications in Java, from tiny embedded devices and GSM handsets to wireless broadband modems and factory test systems.
My C programming skills improved and I learned a lot about real-time and embedded systems programming as part of work on a variety of communications systems. I learned Java, in both its desktop (J2SE) and embedded (J2ME) forms, which helped me improve my knowledge of object-oriented programming techniques. I also became familiar with source control and bug tracking systems.
The job involved working as part of both large and small project teams, sometimes working directly with clients. Through this I gained experience of commercial pressures and dealing with clients' demands and expectations.
My main responsibility was to maintain and operate a Doppler HF radar system used for studying the ionosphere. This required me to be able to fault-find and test electronic modules ranging from embedded microcontrollers to radio-frequency components. I was also required to run the computer system that controlled the radar. This involved writing radar control programs in C, administering a small network of PCs running the QNX real-time operating system and using Perl and various other tools under Linux to process data.
There was also a large amount of communal work on base, such as site maintenance, refuelling and cargo operations. This required that all of us be able to operate bulldozers and Tucker Sno-Cats.
In December 2000 and January 2001 I assisted the French polar research institute in carrying out the first maintenance visit to the radar at Kerguelen island since its construction the year before.
The subjects I chose in my final year were communications theory and systems, signal and image processing, computer systems and networks and analogue and digital electronics.
My final year project was in the field of digital acoustic underwater communications and involved selecting a coding algorithm suited to the difficult underwater acoustic channel and constructing an ISA card to evaluate the coding hardware in a PC.
The course also included a three-month project carried out at the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt in Germany. This involved programming Texas Instruments digital signal processors in assembly language.
|Certificate of Sixth Year Studies||Physics (A), Maths (C)|
|Higher||Maths, English, Physics, Chemistry, German (all A), History (C)|
Full UK driving licence (car and motorcycle).
|German||Competent in spoken German, out of practice in written German.|
|Spanish||Able to converse at a simple level.|
|Applications||Proficient in common office applications. Familiar with Matlab.|
|Operating systems||Microsoft Windows (all versions); Linux (including installation and admin); QNX (installation; admin and programming).|
|Programming languages||C; Java; Perl; Texas Instruments DSP assembly; Microchip PIC assembly; Visual Basic (6.0 and .Net); LabView.|
Travel: Germany, France, Spain, Slovenia, Turkey, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, USA, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana.
Travel Writing: researched and updated the northern Nigeria section of the Bradt Nigeria guidebook.
Hiking and trekking.
Photography: pictures used in everything from a Danish academic book about Turkey to a Swedish Heavy Metal CD cover.