Name: Ronnie

Job Title: PhD Student

Please can you share an overview of your journey so far?

When I was applying for university I was torn between Computer Science and Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and in the end I did a joint programme at Heriot-Watt University. This meant that I mostly studied digital Electronics and software, and when I was interning with Leonardo during my degree I worked on FPGA firmware. Although I enjoyed my time there, by the time I was due to graduate I had developed an interest in robotics and AI and was seeking opportunities in that area. As it happens my university hosted one of the few Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) in robotics in the UK at the time, the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, so I applied and was lucky to be accepted into the 2018 cohort. Since then I have been working on my research into assistive robotics, particularly on enabling pro-active robotic assistance to support people individuals living with mild impairments at home. In the past few years, I have also been a co-founder of a robotics start-up which creates modular robotic solutions for the care sectors.

What made you choose electronic engineering?

I think the reason I ultimately did a joint degree was because I wanted to understand the “full picture” of technology, so to do Electronics or computer science on its own I would have felt like I was missing out on something. I have enjoyed learning about the many layers of modern devices from circuit design, to firmware, to operating systems, and to the applications that run on them. I think my undergraduate degree led me naturally into robotics, since it allows me to build on a lot of what I already learned about complex electronic systems.

What excites you most about electronics and your career going forward?

Most of my Electronics work at the moment actually happens through my start-up, where I am jointly responsible for all engineering aspects of the business, including Electronics. My focus there at the moment is on developing our modular interface system, which allows the functionality of the robot to be expanded / modified by hot-swapping individual modules that integrate with the system electronically and in software. I am most excited to see how robotics and other assistive technologies can contribute to easing the pressure on resources in the care sectors by automating repetitive tasks so that carers can focus on the more personal aspects of care.

I think studying electronics really can open the door to a wealth of potential career paths. There are so many interesting areas emerging in Electronics that you could find yourself working in, whether it is in high-speed wireless communications (5G, 6G, and beyond), Internet of Things (IoT), implantable nanoscale electronics, or robotics!

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