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Matthew Christophers

Bachelor of Information and Communications Technology Student

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While working as an Insurance Consultant at FMG, Matthew Christophers got to spend a day with the company's software developers. From that day, Matthew knew he wanted to work in software development, and three years later he's back at FMG doing exactly that.

While working as an Insurance Consultant at FMG, Matthew Christophers got to spend a day with the company's software developers. From that day, Matthew knew he wanted to work in software development, and three years later he's back at FMG doing exactly that.

Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, Matthew chose to study UCOL's Bachelor of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) because the programme's structure allowed him to easily plan his studies over three years.

Matthew says the programme gave him good broad ICT skills before focusing on his major in Software Engineering

"In the first year they give you a taste of absolutely everything, and then you start specialising as you get further into the programme."

"When you're applying for software development jobs, a lot of the programming languages employers look for is stuff that I learnt at UCOL. The lecturers definitely make sure you study things that relate to employment."

A highlight for Matthew was his third year internship with FMG. There he developed a prototype artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot to help the Claims Lodgement Team resolve customer enquiries quicker.  The chatbot is full of policy information and other resources which users can quickly find just by typing questions.

"It's like having Facebook Messenger, but you're messaging a bot which is full of hundreds of pages of policy wording, quick reference cards, templates, email formats, and everything to make their life easy," says Matthew.

Because it actively learns from its interactions, Matthew's chatbot learnt over 1600 questions and over 8000 different phrases during his four month internship.

FMG loved Matthew's chatbot so much that they have employed him as a Software Developer, to continue his work in the AI space. One of Matthew's next steps is to add voice recognition to the chatbot.

Matthew says he really enjoys the problem-solving involved in software development, and the sense of achievement when he finds solutions.

"I think software is great because code often doesn't work how you want it to at the start, so you have to figure it out and then you feel accomplished when it starts working."

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