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Mr Jamie Bonnar Balfour

Basic information

Name Jamie Bonnar Balfour
Date of birth 13th July 1991
Address Contact me for my address
Mobile Contact me for my mobile number
Email Contact me for my email address
Website jamiebalfour.com

About me

I am a dedicated hardworking individual interested in computer science. I have had experience in many different fields, particularly related to the combination of technology and teaching. My other main interests in the field are the world wide web and web development and web design, HCI and interaction design, networking and hardware, programming and the effects of technology.

I am an outgoing person and like to apply myself wherever I can. As a result, I have volunteered for roles that include Paired Reading support at school, various in-class support activities including leading the class for some lessons, and being a member of the Ross High School Young Enterprise Scotland team, as well as tutoring and helping in schools from time to time.

I attended Summer School in 2009 and obtained a Merit Award for computer science for my personal project and was referred to as a strong speaker, which has since become an important quality within me.

As an individual, I am sociable and approachable, but I also enjoy working by myself from time to time, particularly on my own projects - but keeping the balance is very important.

One of my biggest hobbies at the moment is working on my website, where I actively write tutorials, articles and reviews. I also have many larger projects including a collection of components for the web such as a blogging system and menu bar. I also have developed my own programming language, compiler and interpreter. I thoroughly enjoy programming and working on projects like this.

I am an exceptionally talented web developer with a keen eye for design and have over four years of experience with both frontend and backend development. Many have complimented my skills, and as a result I am often seen as the first choice web developer for any job.

In October 2015, I got one of the greatest opportunities in my life - working in a classroom. I got a great satisfaction out of this and the students of the class really enjoyed having me as their teacher. I was also assessed for this and was given full marks for my methods of teaching and helping others.

In June 2016, I was awarded a BSc with first class honours in Computer Science from Heriot-Watt University. I also was informed that I obtained the 4th highest grade in my class for that year and would receive numerous awards, all of which I hang with pride and honour.

Interests

  • Cycling
  • Walking
  • Web design and development
  • Computer programming
  • Graphics and video editing
  • Going out with friends
  • Playing computer games
  • Photography

Key skills

  • Technically minded
  • Problem solver
  • Fluent and confident speaker and writer
  • Enjoy computing related projects
  • Interest in my work
  • Leadership skills
  • Planning skills
  • Research skills
  • Public speaker

Technical skills

Software development

  • Java
  • Microsoft C#
  • Python
  • Microsoft VB.NET

Web development

  • CSS (including Sass)
  • HTML5
  • JavaScript (including jQuery, D3.js, React.js)
  • JavaServer Pages
  • MySQL
  • PHP (including Symfony)

Other technical skills

  • I have knowledge in version control systems, including both SVN and Git.
  • I have a lot of experience with Linux and Apache based web servers including the use of shell scripting.

Awards

2016: Watt Club Prize

"The Watt Club Prize is awarded each year for exceptional distinction in the final honours year and as such recognises the highest achievement possible in undergraduate studies. No more than one prize can be awarded in each distinct discipline offered by a School."

2016: Andrew Stewart Prize for Fourth Year Computer Science

"For the most deserving student in the fourth year of a degree course in the Department of Computer Science."

2014: Andrew Stewart Prize for Second Year Computer Science

"For the most deserving student in the second year of a degree course in the Department of Computer Science."

2013: Merit Award for First Year at Heriot-Watt University (average grade of 70%+)

Issued to students who obtain more than 70% on average in the first and second years of the degree. I had an average grade of about 80%.

2009: Merit Award for Computer Science at LEAPS Summer School

LEAPS or Lothian Equal Access Program for Schools is a system setup by Edinburgh universities (Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh, Napier and Queen Margaret) to help those seeking to enter a university course and/or help them to get into the swing of it all.

I and one other received a Merit Award in the Computer Science course which I received for creating the best project (along with two classmates). Just two of these awards were given away in the class of 20+. I received it for my section of the programming as well as being the team leader. You can find out more in the completed projects section of my website.

Experience

Web Developer at DH Systems

August 2017 to October 2017

I developed websites for companies in the car salvage market. My first project saw me develop a system to generate an XML phonebook to work with Grandstream SIP phones using PHP and a database, thus allowing easy updating of the phonebook system. My second major project was to develop a new database-driven server monitoring application using PHP. I then proceeded on to begin re-developing some websites for the car salvage companies that were hosted by DH Systems.

I had to leave this job on health concerns/issues.

Support Developer at Maglabs

February 2017 to August 2017

My job at Maglabs was fast paced and required me to think on my feet a lot of the time. My job primarily involved me generating reports on database data and fixing bugs as well as adding small features to a PHP based web application service. The job taught me a lot, and I managed to hone my skills in PHP, MySQL and shell scripting as a result of it. On top of that I learned a lot of React.js and Symfony whilst I worked there.

One-To-One tutor at Heriot-Watt University

October 2016 to December 2016

As someone who has a lot of experience with teaching and has been recognised as such, Heriot-Watt University got in touch with me and asked if I would support a student with one-to-one tuition. The course I helped out with involved using the D3 JavaScript library, which I had used a year before. As a web developer who actively uses this library, I accepted the offer and began working with the student in October 2016.

Lab Assistant at Heriot-Watt University

September 2016 to December 2016

As a second time lab assistant I was well prepared for what I had to do here. Taking up two courses (F27PX: Praxis and F28WP: Web Programming) gave me diversity in what I was doing. One course, Praxis, a first year course, gave me experience working with writing tips, IT help and in generally helping students with the professional development. The other course allowed me to exercise my knowledge of web programming, since that is my forte. I spent two hours a week doing this.

PhD research student (PGR)

September 2016 to February 2017

Interested in extending my academic achievements, I considered doing a PhD. In 2016 when I graduated as with a first class honours degree, Heriot-Watt University got in touch with me about a PhD that they had and said that they thought I'd be a good candidate for.

I accepted the offer out of interest and was accepted as an 'outstanding candidate' due to all of my previous achievements such as my Watt-Club Prize and twice winner of the Andrew Stewart Prize.

My research here involved understanding concerns of carers of children with autism when it comes to their online safety and developing a solution to it.

I felt that my PhD did not allow me to take advantage of my technical skills and that I would be more suited to a job in the industry where I can use these skills.

Lab Assistant at Heriot-Watt University

January 2016 to March 2016

In this role, I assisted students in the first year of the same Computer Science (G400) degree I was working towards in the Web Design and Databases course. I also assessed students' work to some degree and gave them feedback on their work. I believe that my contributions to this course were valuable. I helped students and the lecturers with my fresh new knowledge and helped to make things clearer for them. This job involved me using my knowledge of HTML, CSS and PHP as well as MySQL for the latter part of the course.

Classroom Assistant at Ross High School

October 2015 to April 2016

As part of one of my courses at Heriot-Watt University I was involved in visiting a school to work with secondary teachers in Computing. This course meant that I visit Ross High School, Tranent, every Wednesday to work in the classroom. I ran the hour long class three times. On all occasions I worked on website development and production. This is part of the Higher/National 5 curriculum and so I ably ran the course by preparing my own resources and materials that the students could use and brought my knowledge from the industry in to the classroom.

All of my own run classes ran within three Wednesdays back to back. In the first class I delivered a presentation about HTML and gave the students a chance to play about with it. Many students were exploring W3 Schools as well as my own personal website for tutorials on HTML. The second class was on CSS. I started by delivering a presentation on the very basics of CSS and then asked the students to create some CSS rules. The third and final lesson I delivered was on JavaScript and PHP.

I also demonstrated authority with the students who were not working on the work they were asked to work on for the first time.

I received three reports (one for each class I have run) and all gave me great, positive feedback. From this, I learned that I am an incredibly confident speaker, even when presenting to children/teenagers - something I have not done in a long time. The students also enjoyed having me teach them on both occasions and praised on my teaching style which they believe is modern and more beneficial to their learning. Students also liked the way my presentations were made more interesting through the use of animations.

As well as this I assisted students with programming in all year groups, helped with ICT classes (word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentation packages and graphics) and gained an excellent understanding of what it is like to work in a classroom.

Class representative at Heriot-Watt University

September 2014 to April 2015 & September 2015 to April 2016

My election as class representative meant I had the responsibility of raising other students' concerns, worries and requirements at class representative meetings. I was elected as the third year class representative in September 2014 until April 2015, and then again in September 2015 until April 2016 as the fourth year computer science class representative.

I was also in charge of informing students of changes that are happening throughout the university and within the department.

My role is was important since it helps the university as a whole, as well as the class to ensure that the university experience is as smooth as possible.

During my time as third year class representative in 2014 and 2015, I had to represent the university in front of a panel from the BCS (British Computer Society) to help the university to receive recognition from them.

Freelance web developer

January 2013 to February 2017

Before becoming a freelance web developer, I would build websites for people at no cost. I then realised I have an exceptional talent for this and decided to begin charging and became a freelance web developer.

I develop websites on request for others. As part of this I work on developing responsive designs that work on multiple devices using CSS and JavaScript. I use the latest in web technologies including PHP 5 (including the new MySQLi drivers) and MySQL, HTML5 and CSS3. I build websites that are tailored to the individual requirements.

Although I have only built a few websites for clients down to trying to manage time while doing my degree, all of my clients have claimed that my skills and communication with them are second to none and would highly recommend me. There is more on what websites I have built on my personal website.

Tutoring

January 2011 to May 2011, September 2011 to May 2012

In January 2011, I tutored a pupil who was studying the SQA 'Intermediate 2 Computing' course at school. I would meet him twice a week and prepared loads of materials that he could revise from. In the end he received an A grade.

I took up the job of tutoring an individual again in September 2011, this time in SQA 'Higher Computing' which saw me meeting the pupil once a week to go through topics they were struggling with. I also prepared loads of helpful materials. In the end the pupil passed the course with a C.

Kitchen assistant at Bissets Hotel, Gullane

Summer job (2007, 2008 and 2009)

As my summer job whilst I was at school I worked as a kitchen assistant at Bissets Hotel in Gullane.

This job was an important step for me in becoming confident with individual clients as well as working within a team.

Work Experience (Bissets Hotel, Gullane)

September 2006 to October 2006

This job saw me working with another member of staff tidying and cleaning the bedrooms for a week and doing various other chores around the premises. It required me to get up at 6am every morning to be at work by around 8am to ensure that I would get there on time. It showed that I had determination and efficiency as well as the ability to work well as part of a team.

Voluntary work

Classroom Assistant at Knox Academy

January 2016 to May 2016

STEM Net is a system in which schools and other institutes request help from the ambassadors. As a STEM Ambassador I saw a request at Knox Academy, Haddington, (not far from where I live) and emailed to see how I could help. As it happens, I just missed the post. However, the teacher there asked if I would still like to help and I accepted.

My role here was as a classroom assistant in the Computing department. I assisted in all levels from S1 to S6 ranging from basic ICT to Advanced Higher Computer Science. Both teachers said that having me there was really useful and that I was incredibly helpful.

Projects

ClickIt

October 2015 to May 2016

In October 2015 I began to work on my BSc Honours year project. As part of this I developed an application to aid new web developers with web development called ClickIt. The main purpose of this was to help school children and new web developers learn HTML using a drag and drop system. More is avaiable at http://clickit.projects.jamiebalfour.com/.

Zenith Parsing Engine

May 2015 onwards

In October 2014 I began working on a completely new project, writing my own BlackRabbit Script in Java. I had to stop due to work and university consuming my time. In May 2015, I rewrote the whole engine. This time within one week, I had written a very powerful engine that can be built upon by others too. After two months of work, it featured a mathematical parser, a logic parser and a compiler for Java code. Some of my friends and colleagues were very interested and have written programs in my language. There is much more about it on my website. More is available at https://www.jamiebalfour.com/projects/zpe/.

Web Neutral Project

June 2014 onwards

As part of my own website development and moving away from using third party plugins, I decided to invent my own responsive menu bar for the web. Named JBBar at first but renamed BalfBar shortly after, I produced my latest project under my Web Neutral Project - a project to develop free and easy-to-style tools for any website. More is available at https://www.jamiebalfour.com/projects/wnp/balfbar/.

Another project I developed under my Web Neutral Project was BalfSlider. I had previously built a very basic image slider for my own website but never got round to making a fully functional plugin version of it. BalfSlider uses a modular design which can be expanded by put new JavaScript objects into it, making it flexible as well as lightweight (cut out the objects you do not need and keep the ones you do). To make it even more lightweight I developed a tool on my personal website that allows you to select only the bits you need. More is available at https://www.jamiebalfour.com/projects/wnp/balfslider/.

Dash Content Manager

June 2014 onwards

This project is a personal project to build the best content management system out there! In July 2017, the project was renamed Dash and was rebuilt from the ground up. My CMS is designed from the ground up to integrate with any website and make it easy to use. Dash is used on my own website and it is constantly receiving updates to make it better and better. More is available at https://www.jamiebalfour.com/projects/wnp/dash/.

My personal website

April 2010 onwards

My personal website (https://www.jamiebalfour.com/) is one of my biggest achievements. In April 2010 I had an idea that it would be good to share what I know with the world. Because of this, I decided to open a website dedicated to both professional works and my personal life. My website went through a major refurbishment in June 2013. My website is built with my skills in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP and MySQL.

Programming

2005 onwards

I took the hobby of programming due to my interest in it. I mention this job because I develop software on request for others. I have developed products such as an imaging/graphics application, a web browser and an easy to use programming language.

All of these are available on my website.

Education

Heriot-Watt University

Bachelor of Science (BSc) [Computer Science] : First Class Honours

I was the class representative in the third year and fourth year of my studies for the Computer Science degree which saw me keeping the class up to date with the latest news and events related to the university, taking up issues with staff on behalf of students as well as regularly checking with students that everything was okay.

I have worked on a number of projects at university, some of which I have documented on my website. Below is a list of my most applicable grades from my degree:

Year Course name % Grade SCQF level
Z Final Year Project 82% First Class Honours Degree 10
Year 4 Semester 2 eCommerce Technologies 80% A 10
Year 4 Semester 2 Network Applications 64% B 10
Year 4 Semester 1 Computing in the Classroom 88% A 10
Year 4 Semester 1 Data Visualisation and Analytics 70% A 10
Year 4 Semester 1 Industrial Programming 83% A 10
Year 4 results Average 77.83% A Total 10 476/600
Year 3 Semester 2 Foundations 2 69% B 9
Year 3 Semester 2 Language Processors 79% A 9
Year 3 Semester 2 Operating Systems and Concurrency 72% A 9
Year 3 Semester 2 Professional Development 67% B 9
Year 3 Semester 2 Software Engineering 67% B 9
Year 3 Semester 1 Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Agents 60% B 9
Year 3 Semester 1 Computer Network Security 64% B 9
Year 3 Semester 1 Foundations 1 63% B 9
Year 3 results Average 67.62% B Total 9 541/800
Year 2 Semester 2 Database Management Systems 58% C 8
Year 2 Semester 2 Formal Specification 77% A 8
Year 2 Semester 2 Software Design 60% B 8
Year 2 Semester 2 Discrete Mathematics 37% E 7
Year 2 Semester 1 Data Structures and Algorithms 69% B 8
Year 2 Semester 1 Interaction Design 50% C 8
Year 2 Semester 1 Programming Languages 55% C 8
Year 2 Semester 1 Web Programming 81% A 8
Year 2 results Average 60.87% B Total 8 487/800
Year 1 Semester 2 Introduction to Computer Systems 66% B 7
Year 1 Semester 2 Software Development 2 79% A 7
Year 1 Semester 2 Software Development 3 75% A 7
Year 1 Semester 2 Web Design and Databases 81% A 7
Year 1 Semester 1 Interactive Systems 84% A 7
Year 1 Semester 1 Logic and Proof 61% B 7
Year 1 Semester 1 Praxis 80% A 7
Year 1 Semester 1 Software Development 1 92% A 7
Year 1 results Average 77.25% A Total 7 618/800

LEAPS Summer School [Computer Science and Physics] : Pass

June 2009 to August 2009

This was an introductory course to university. LEAPS was also aimed to assist those who felt that they might not get the school grades to get into university since it would provide evidence that they have achieved success at university level. Whilst I did not need this support, it did give me a good introduction to what university was like.

I also achieved the Merit Award (given to one other) for Computer Science.

Ross High School

August 2003 to May 2009

I attended Ross High School, Tranent, for the full 6 years which taught me valuable lessons and prepared me for my career.

Whilst at high school, particularly in my sixth year, I was an in-class support pupil who would assist teachers with their classes. My duty was in a first year Computing class which saw me running the class in two classes as well as generally giving help to the students around the class. This was entirely voluntary and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was also a member of the Young Enterprise Scotland team for the school. Initially I took the role as the Finance Manager then took over as IT Manager in a minor organisational reshuffle. In this project we designed products to sell at a fair.

I also was a paired-reading tutor, meaning that I was required to assist someone with lower reading capabilities than the normal levels for high school.

Below is a list of my most important school qualifications:

Year Course name Grade SCQF level
2009 SQA Advanced Higher Computing C 7
2008 SQA Higher Business Management B 6
2008 SQA Higher Computing B 6
2009 SQA Higher Physics B 6
2009 SQA Higher History C 6
2008 SQA Intermediate 2 Mathematics A 5
2008 SQA Intermediate 2 English B 5
2007 SQA Standard Grade Computing 1 5
2007 SQA Standard Grade SVS 1 5
2007 SQA Standard Grade Business Management 2 5
2007 SQA Standard Grade Craft & Design 2 5
2007 SQA Standard Grade Physics 2 5
2008 SQA Intermediate 2 History D 5
2007 SQA Intermediate 1 Mathematics B 4
2007 SQA Standard Grade English 3 4
2007 SQA Standard Grade German 3 4
2007 SQA Standard Grade History 3 4

Other work

Liberal Democrats Party member

February 2010 to June 2010

With this unpaid voluntary work, I was a member of the Liberal Democrats for a few months helping out with duties such as delivering flyers and leaflets. My role was crucial in delivering to certain areas that had been difficult to cover by the party before, due to a lack of members in the area.

Young Enterprise Scotland

September 2008 to May 2009

I was a key member of our Young Enterprise Scotland team in charge of the IT side of the products as well as being one of the front members of the sales team. Our team managed to sell the majority of our products that were for sale and were one of the more liked teams by the public.

References

  1. John Paul Potter, Ross High School (former teacher)
    jpotter@ross.elcschool.org.uk
  2. Derek McCallum, Ross High School (head of school house)
    +44 1875 610 433
  3. Maureen Dawson, Bisset's Hotel (former employer)
    +44 1620 842 230
  4. Professor Greg Michaelson, Heriot-Watt University (former lecturer)
    g.michaelson@hw.ac.uk
    http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~greg/
    +44 131 451 3422
  5. Dr Tessa Berg, Heriot-Watt University (former lecturer, mentor and PhD supervisor)
    t.berg@hw.ac.uk
    +44 131 451 8223
  6. Simon Foley, CTO at Maglabs
    simon.foley@maglabs.net