Univ Dates: 2011-2015
Degree: MMathCompSci Mathematics and Computer Science
Degree Level: Undergraduate
Occupation: Tech Philomath
Biography: Tomas is an explorer, philomath, and nerd. Most of all, he enjoys solving real-world problems with technology – as, for example, improving the friend-suggestions algorithms at Facebook, implementing a computer language to help people make sense of large data sets, or calculating the amount of student time wasted by belated buttery opening times. He also enjoys speaking about artificial intelligence on TEDx conferences, playing the flamenco guitar at Univ’s Master’s Lodgings concerts, winning medals by dancing ballroom, reading books from the likes of Friedman or Nietzsche, and gin and tonic.
He was awarded the Alexander Trafford Award in 2015 and the Kairos Society Fellowship in 2014 (an entrepreneurial society committed to advancing the world through innovation in education, healthcare, and clean energy). At Univ Tomas was elected an Exhibitioner in 2012 and 2013. He was a member of the Univ Tennis Club in 2013.
What made you choose Univ?
I visited a while before I applied with my school on a trip to England. I thought Univ looked interesting and I finally chose Univ when I realised there was a well-respected researcher called Andrew Ker there. I thought that was really exciting and he ended up being my main tutor, which was fantastic.
How were the interviews?
Those were hard, but they were exciting. The first interview was by far the hardest and I remember calling my parents and telling them I probably wasn’t getting in. But then opening up that email and finding out I had got in was a beautiful moment. It was an emotional moment because in English you have this wonderful way of constructing long sentences before you get to the point and I started reading my email and it seemed like the sentence was like five emails along…
Did you have any idea what you wanted to be?
Both my parents are entrepreneurs, so I was guided to just enjoy my time here as neither of my parents are doing anything connected to what they studied. The same with me, I always enjoyed lots of things – coding, mathematics… but then slowly I began to understand how coding worked and how computers worked and that guided me in to the world of technology and in that world it’s easy to find the good jobs if you have the correct skill set. Univ definitely gave me that.
Do you have a favourite memory of Univ?
A couple of the success moments when I was struggling with an exam subject and then suddenly I had a tutorial and I could see that my efforts were reasonably good. When a world-class professor like Andrew Ker tells me ‘this is fine work,’ – that’s very motivating.
What do you think of this gallery project?
I believe that colleges should keep in touch with their alumni and, equally, it is nice for the alumni to give back to the colleges. This is one of the many possible ways of doing it and, I think, a really effective one as it shows that the College really cares.
How did it feel to be invited to be part of the project?
I was excited! I was quite active in the Oxford Entrepreneurs Society and it seems worthy to show people that you don’t have to be working in the City as an advisor or a banker – so I very much agree with the diversity of this project. And if Univ can become the College for aspiring entrepreneurs, that would be wonderful. If later on I meet someone who saw my portrait and was inspired, it will touch my heart.