Di Fu, scholarship winner

“I think everyone who studies computing science dreams of making computers more like humans,” says Di Fu, referencing the popular film Her, which examines a world where people form relationships with advanced operating systems. 

“I feel computers can bring people warmth and love. They are no longer just pieces of metal; they can be more than just a tool or machine.”

It’s this kind of big-picture thinking, combined with outstanding technical skills, that won Di the Sophos Annual Computing Science Scholarship 2014, valued at $1,000. “It was an honour to be recognized by a well-known company like Sophos, which is a leader in computer security,” he says. “The scholarship helped me financially, of course, but it also gave me confidence.”

For other student interested in applying for SOPHOS, Di recommends maintaining good academic performance, while also getting involved in extracurricular activities and projects. Ultimately, he says he sees the scholarship a reward for passion and learning.

“I was part of a student team working on a project related to network security, which I mentioned on my application,” he says. “I added a feature that transmits encrypted data, which I think helped showcase my potential.”

He also recommends taking advantage of the Faculty of Applied Sciences student advisors’ services. “Danyu Zhao and Nancy Bart helped me a lot,” he says. “I asked tons of questions about my studies and the scholarships and they were very supportive and patient.”

Di is part of the Dual Degree Program’s (DDP) Chinese cohort from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. A top-ranked Chinese university, Zhejiang is often referred to as ‘Cambridge of the East.’ He first heard about the award-winning DDP program from a brochure he received from his DDP coordinator in China.

“My course supervisor told me that SFU has a lot of good professors,” he says. With the support of his parents, Di made the 8,000-kilometre journey from Hangzhou to Vancouver. “They didn’t worry as much as the other parents,” he says. “They knew I was resilient and adaptive, and I worked as a teaching assistant at an English language school in China, so language wasn’t a problem.”

On the advice of an SFU professor, Di chose to take a grad course this semester, along with three undergraduate courses. He is relishing the opportunity to push himself academically and also dip his toes into the world of research by working on a cloud-computing project with PhD students.

The research opportunity emerged when Di took the initiative to contact Professor Jiangchuan Liu and ask whether there were any available opportunities. “He was happy to include me in the research team, where we analyze video streaming and network latency in advance gameplay on a cloud network,” he says.

After graduation, Di hopes to apply for grad school and continue his research in the field of networking, systems, and cloud computing. Alternatively, he would like to have his own startup, possibly specializing in intelligent operating systems.

 For now, he is soaking up the experience of studying in North America, working on leading-edge research and immersing himself in new experiences. “Engaging the world is the spirit of SFU,” he says “It means breaking out of your comfort zone and trying new things, asking questions and gaining inspiration from peers and professors. I feel very lucky.”