Peter Sandilands

Peter achieved a BSc (Hons) in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science and went on to do his PhD at Informatics too.

Name Peter Sandilands
Degree Course BSc. (Hons) Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science / Ph.D. with the Institute for Perception, Action, and Behaviour [thesis: Capture and Generalisation of Close Interaction with Objects]
Year of Graduation 2010 and 2015

Your time at the University

I first came to Edinburgh University as an Undergraduate because of its reputation in both teaching and research of Artificial Intelligence. It was rated one of the top in Europe and although meant being a little way from my parents in Bristol, it was my first choice of university. When I visited Edinburgh for the first time with my dad I felt it was compact enough to not be too daunting, yet had a unique history, culture, and importance on the world stage that there would be plenty of interesting things to do here. I wasn’t wrong! It was so interesting that apart from a brief stint in California working for Sun Microsystems (an internship which I acquired via a partnership at the time between Scottish universities and Sun), I’ve stayed in Edinburgh for the last ten years, winning the Young Software Engineer of the Year award with my work on the Sony AIBO and continuing on to complete a PhD in Robotics and Animation at the School of Informatics’ Institute for Perception, Action and Behaviour. Being part of that institute gave me the support and equipment I needed to author or joint-author 6 peer-reviewed articles in a range of internationally-recognised conferences and journals in multiple fields. I couldn’t have guessed I’d be capable of that prior to joining the University, and am very glad I was helped to do so by them.

Peter Sandilands image

Your experiences since leaving the University

I left the University eventually to join Rockstar North, a games company still based in Edinburgh, best known for the critically appraised and highly selling Grand Theft Auto series of computer games. Working on the core animation technology, this gives me an exciting and significant impact into one of the world’s best-selling games series, and allows me to work in an area which I also enjoy as a pastime. I’m also able to really look into innovative new solutions to problems that affect the millions of people that play these games, drawing upon academic and industry research.

It’s fun to know that code I’ve written runs on many millions of consoles and PCs in people’s homes around the world.

I’m certain the work I’d performed during my PhD directly contributed to me working in this area and in this position – much of my work in animation is applicable and even the robotics-side of my research aids understanding in the problem of character interaction with the (virtual) world.

Alumni Wisdom

Take the chances you are given – if you’re interested in an experience or opportunity, university is a great time to pursue it! A lot of excellent work is done by a single person with a passion or interest for an area – early on in University it’s good to spread out and find out what yours is, but later focusing in on it will be very rewarding.

It’s also worthwhile looking for opportunities that aren’t obvious, the University and other organisations invest a lot of time into setting up interesting programmes for students – there are grants for setting up your own business.

This article was first published in 2015. For updates on what Peter is doing now, find his LinkedIn below.

Related links

Peter Sandilands on LinkedIn