Make friends and influence tech: five reasons to join Bristol’s Computer Science Society

Composite image of Joanne from CSS, a CSS-branded cake and a student on a computer

Make friends and influence tech: five reasons to join Bristol’s Computer Science Society

Spoiler… It involves pizza…
Joanne is a final-year Computer Science student at the University of Bristol. Outside of her studies, she’s a member of the Computer Science Society, allowing her to meet new people who share her ambition to change the world through tech.

We caught up with Joanne in the colourful atrium of the Merchant Venturers Building. Over a casual coffee, we chatted about the society’s positive impact on her Bristol experience having moved to the city from her hometown of Liverpool.

We were curious about Joanne’s motivation for joining the society, and all the amazing experiences she has had since joining. After hearing what she had to say, we discovered five reasons why joining the Computer Science Society could be the best thing you’ll do at University. And of course, we were keen to share them with you!

What is CSS Bristol?

CSS stands for the Computer Science Society (not the style sheet language; although big applause for the creative abbreviation!).

The group is run by current students and represent those studying towards their Computer Science degrees. The idea is to bring students with a shared interest in tech and coding together via a number of fun-packed events dotted throughout the academic year.

And if you’re not already convinced, let’s dive right in…

#1: You’ll have a blast with like-minded people.

Love tech? Great! Love tech and meeting new people? Even better!

Moving to university may feel like a daunting prospect for some, but when it really boils down to it, there are SO many people who feel exactly as you do. Joining a society is a wonderful opportunity to make new connections and create lasting friendships with fellow students who share your interests.

Each year, CSS put on a range of events from coding competitions and workshops to summer barbeques and post-exam social trips, giving students the opportunity to interact in a relaxed environment outside of the lectures and workshops. The bonus? You’ll get to try out some of the city’s social hotspots too!

The connections you will make as a member of the society will prove invaluable; you’ll get to collaborate on projects, share knowledge and best practice, ask fellow members for advice, and so much more. It’s like real-life Reddit (but just the good bits!) .

#2: You’ll get to join epic tech battles and compete through code

Student wearing a VR headset working on a computer game.
One of the ‘most innovative’ winners
Listing the society’s events and competitions would take us some time, so here is a flavour of what you can expect…

GamesJam, is a society event often held in November. Using your creativity, skill, and imagination, you’ll get to design and build the most interactive, fun, and innovative game possible, and you’ll be challenged to do so over a 24-hour period. For an added test; you’ll have to follow a specific brief set by the society! Take a ‘heads-together’ approach by entering as a team, or choose to go it alone. Whatever your preference, you’ll be armed with cutting-edge hardware and tools to bring your imaginative creations to life – be it a nostalgic nod to the past with a retro arcade game, or a daring dive into the modern realm of virtual reality. Fancy a peek at last year’s winning entries?

BrisHack, a 24-hour hackathon, is another highlight in the society calendar. Held in collaboration with the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Society (BEEES), the event offers students with varied levels of programming experience the opportunity to gain new skills. In fact, you don’t have to study a STEM discipline to compete! The event returns this Sunday 26 February at Merchant Venturers Building and if you’re intrigued to learn more about this year’s theme, you can find out more for yourself!

ArtHack, the society’s newest venture, encourages participants to experiment with technology to create immersive art. Whether you’re interested in programming, electronics, VR (Virtual Reality), robotics, or a combination of all four, judges are keen to see students from across the Faculty coming together to express themselves through technology. The sky really is the limit!

#3: You could get to ask Google questions IRL.

Need expert advice and knowledge from tech leaders like Google? The kind that doesn’t involve typing into a search engine?

Throughout the year, the society hosts a variety of industry talks and workshops delivered by experts like Google, Bloomberg, and Amazon. These events not only give you the unique opportunity to put your questions to top industry professionals (who really know a thing or two about coding!), but are also a great chance to network with those who have lived experience of working for the companies you may aspire to be a part of. This could be an incredibly useful exercise if you’re looking to build connections in a specific field, industry, or company ready for your career beyond university.

Get a feel for some upcoming workshops on the society’s website.

#4: You’ll get free pizza, and lots of it.

Trolly stacked with pizza boxes.
Pizza time!
If all that networking has you working up an appetite, you’ll be pleased to know that CSS social events are strictly no rumbling tummy zones too!

With their self-proclaimed ‘Bristol’s biggest free pizza vendor’ title, you can rest in the knowledge that you’ll be adequately fuelled during your coding sessions and social events.

And if you’re not partial to a slice, society staples also include other delicious snacks like donuts and burritos, helping to keep energy levels up and productivity at a high – together you can dine, design, and develop!

#5: It’ll cost you nothing to join!

They say the best things in life are free and we tend to agree!

If you’re ready to …

  • Meet new people who share your love for tech
  • Get to know some of Bristol’s social hotspots
  • Fill your diary full of day trips, nights out, and personal development opportunities
  • Build your own video game using the latest tech
  • Level up your coding skills with the help of companies like Google
  • Fuel your coding and networking with plenty of free pizza

…you can do so for free, just like Joanne did. To become a CSS society member, head to the Bristol SU website, and select ‘Join This Group’.