ALTON College student Niklas Vangerow has been awarded the Netcraft AQA prize for one of the highest marks in the UK for A-Level computing.

Netcraft offers prizes for the top 50 A2 computing candidates in the UK. It is an internet services company based in Bath which provides internet data analysis, defences against fraud and phishing, web application security testing, and automated penetration testing. In addition to the prize, Niklas (previously at Robert May’s School in Odiham) was invited to an event in Bath to meet other prize winners and current computing students at top UK universities.

About to embark on a four-year MEng computing course at Imperial College London, Niklas has spoken about the award and his Alton College experience.

He said: “I’m so pleased to have won the award and to have been included in the top 50 students in the country achieving the highest grades. I was extremely grateful to Netcraft for the prize, and the event we were invited to in Bath.

“The evening at Netcraft’s office included talks about their work, as well as a practical workshop in which we performed man-in-the-middle attacks on vulnerable mobile phone applications. In the break between the talks and the workshop, I was able to talk to Netcraft employees about Netcraft as a company and their internship positions.

“Netcraft sponsor the Department of Computing Society at Imperial College and participate in some of the events that the society organises, so the open evening was a great opportunity to meet new people.”

Niklas explained: “I enjoyed studying at Alton College and the support I received there was invaluable to gaining my university place. I was invited to take part in the applying to competitive courses programme as part of the More Able and Talented programme and I attended weekly sessions where we covered topics such as researching courses, and writing personal statements.

“The early sessions made me realise how important it was to start the research and personal statement early, and I’m glad I did. Submitting my UCAS application early gave me more time to focus on my computing and physics coursework. I recall that in one ACC session we looked at past personal statements and tried to rank them based on how good we thought they were. We also did a session where we gave each other feedback on our personal statements.”

He continued: “The college was a refreshing change from secondary school. I really appreciated the fact that everyone addresses each other by first name; this provided a more informal and relaxing learning environment. Staff were always happy to answer questions either in person or by e-mail, and when I first started, I was struck by how passionate and knowledgeable the teachers were about their subjects. My experience at Alton College was overwhelmingly positive.”