SFU graduate combines software systems and music for her degree

June 09, 2020

By: Andrew Ringer

Software systems and music are not often seen as a common pairing. For SFU graduand Kat Siu, however, combining these two degrees has prepared her to work in the gaming industry.

“SFU offered a lot more freedom to take classes outside of my declared discipline, than other local universities, which meant I was able to take music classes at the same time as classes from other faculties,” says Siu. 

While she originally began her time at SFU as a double major in music and interactive arts and technology (IAT), she switched to a double degree in music and software systems after discovering that she wanted to go more in-depth in programming than what IAT offered. 

Since then, Siu has completed four co-op terms as part of her software systems degree in the School of Computing Science. Two of these terms came at PNI Digital Media, where she says she gained experience in “organization, leadership and communication.” The other two terms came at Blackbird Interactive, where she gained experience in the video game industry and received close mentoring from her supervisor while combining her music and software systems skills by working as an audio programmer. 

“I think that co-op is probably the most important thing to do while at school, and even though it's optional, everyone should do it if they get the chance,” says Siu. “Real world experience in the industry while getting mentorship as a student is a significant learning experience.” 

Siu also was a part of a student team that recently developed a paperless medical referral system to be used by health-care workers in communities with limited access to medical services. 

Now employed full-time at Blackbird Interactive, Siu is working on a game that will be released soon. In the future, she hopes to use her interdisciplinary background in software systems and music to develop games with more personal control.

“I'm looking forward to getting more experience in the games industry and possibly taking the opportunity to pitch my own project ideas.”