Geek Starter Pack – Oxford and Oxfordshire


So you’re a nerd or a geek who has just moved to Oxford or Oxfordshire. You are raring to get involved with all the amazing stuff that happens within the city and its surrounding areas. Oxford, interestingly, is a rather small world. Once you get to know a few people, you pretty much open the door to a whole array of interesting meet ups, groups as well as people. Getting your foot in the door is the main thing.

Geek starter events in Oxfordshire

If you are part of the university as an academic, then you’ll probably find that thanks to the clubs and social activities as well as your own college and department, your social calendar will be full of geekery. If you are not part of it, you may find that it is a bit more difficult. This article mostly focuses on the people who are not part of the university, but still want to be involved with all the magic that goes around.

Now I am an electronics engineer, who is mostly interested in science and electronics. While some of the items I discuss may apply more to the people of my genre, but I will also try and cover topics that should be more general for everyone.

Attend talks at Oxford University and Oxford Brookes

As expected, Oxford University hosts an amazing array of talks on all sorts of subjects and topics. While some of these are restricted to the staff or students of the university alone, a lot of them are open to the public. Some require registration beforehand while others you can walk into. They happen all day long, and are dotted all around the university.

A comprehensive list of these as well as more details can be found on the Oxford University website.

Similarly, Oxford Brookes, while with a smaller range of staff and departments, has a wide array of talks as well. While the list may not be as extensive, I have always found the talks at Oxford Brookes a bit more approachable and easy to understand for a lay man like me. All the information about those and the many other things that go on at Oxford Brookes can be found on their events page.

Join local groups

As expected, a lot of local groups exist that cater to pretty much all kinds of needs and interests. Whether you’re into knitting, GUIs, philosophy or photography, there is a group for that. A lot of these exist on MeetUp.com, but others can also be found by a simple search. Interested in ‘something’? Just Google ‘Oxford something’ and you’re sure to find a group that has a bunch of like minded people who like getting together once a month and discussing your topic of choice. Most of these are also open to people who may not be proper geeks about those things, but are just curious.

Give a talk

Oh yes. Not only can you attend talks, you can also be the person giving them. Over the years, I have been involved in various activities with Science Oxford and Oxford Science Museum where I managed to go and give talks. A lot of groups are always looking for people to speak. This is a great way to inspire people about your topic of interest and recruit more people who are into whatever you are interested in.

Volunteer

The best way to get knees deep into any thing is to do it. The best way to do it in Oxford I find, is to volunteer and help with a group of people who are already involved with it. Join a local group and help them out. Help organise events with them, help invite people, help invite speakers. You’ll not only make a difference, you’ll also be face to face the experts in your area of interest. Everyone from small groups all the way to the TedX Oxford welcome volunteers.

Use social media and the internet

It may sound obvious, but Google and social media search go a long way when it comes to finding activities and events of interest in the town. Give them a go. Search for the keywords, and hopefully you won’t be disappointed.

Some of my favourite groups/talks/events

As an example, I thought I should end by giving a list of some of the things I have really liked over the years:

  • Skeptics in the Pub (happens all around the UK)
  • Oxford Geek’s Night
  • Oxford HackSpace
  • Brookes Lectures
  • LiveFriday at Ashmolean Museum

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Sami Mughal is an electronics engineer who works for a medical start up in Oxford. In his spare time, he pursues his interests in technology via his website, www.oxgadgets.com. You can find him on Twitter as @smacula, or drop him an email on contact@oxgadgets.com.

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