Case study: ‘I still use my PhD notes’


Eben Upton, Computer science graduate

The benefits of doctoral research can be surprising. Eben Upton’s PhD subject at Cambridge involved converting a high-level computer language to a low-level one.

Two years into his first job, at Broadcom, an American company, he suddenly found he needed all his research notes. “Usually you never want to see the stuff again,” he says. Upton’s research was also useful when he came to invent Raspberry Pi, a tiny singleboard computer designed to stimulate computer science teaching in schools.

It was a success, and almost a million units have now been sold.

Yet Raspberry Pi was developed only after considerable academic effort by Upton – a three-year BA, a computer science diploma, the PhD and finally an MBA, to learn the business side. His advice to anyone thinking of a second degree? “Wait, but not too long. I’m glad I didn’t go straight into my PhD. Getting out into the world a bit gives you time to think about what you want to do.”