Two amazing weeks!
Research Assistant at University of Kent
Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, Academic Ambassador
University of Kent
I am a PhD candidate in engineering, mainly working on humanoid robots
I am a final year PhD student at the University of Kent, Canterbury. I am originally from Romania, and moved to UK in 2012, when I got a scholarship for a masters program at the University of Kent.
I do a lot of volunteering work, such as various STEM outreach events, as well as organising different conferences, student mentoring and so on.
I also teach at the University of Kent, both as an ambassador (during the summer) and as a teaching assistant (during term time). I love teaching as this is one of the best ways I can share all my knowledge and experience with others, as well as inspiring them and providing them the support they need.
As hobbies that are not related to my work, I have recently discovered a passion for calligraphy, which I found very relaxing and satisfying. I love visiting places and I always try to find time to visit someplace new every time. I love watching films and TV shows. But my favourite way of relaxing is in a coffee shop with a nice cup of coffee.
Working with humanoids robots and using them in different scenarios (healthcare, education, business).
I work with humanoid robots and their implementation in the real world. I started on an European project called COALAS (COgnitive Assisted Living Ambient System), in which a NAO robot was an assistant to a disabled person. The robot had the ability to detect if someone has fallen and call for help when needed, as well as communicating with a robotic wheelchair and being able to control it.
In the summer of 2016, we have started using our three robots in school for teaching purposes. Depending on the age group of the students and on the nature of the session, we can offer either and interactive session in which the students can build tangram puzzles and the robot then recognises them, programming session (drag and drop, or coding), lectures, or demonstrations.
I am an active STEM ambassador for the University of Kent and STEMNet. Through these organisations, I got involved in different events, such as talks for the Big Bang Fair, Primary Engineer LEADERS AWARD, LEGO competitions, and many more. I am also part of a STEM committee in the UK and Ireland which aims to bring together all the different associations for a more unified approach in promoting STEM.
I am one of the main organisers for Teacher In-Service Program (TISP), with our first event taking place in October 2016 in 15 countries (in Europe, Africa, and Middle East). I am also a TISP Champion which allows me to deliver TISP workshops. A volunteer can be a TISP champion if they get trained by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering).
My Typical Day: On a typical day at work, I am able to spend time with my three NAO robots
I get to spend quite a lot of time with the robots. I have been working with them for the past four years, so I can say we now have a special kind of relationship.
On a typical day at work (if I am not teaching), I get to work with the robots. This is either for my own work, for outreach, or for demonstrations during the University’s open days. My main area is about making humanoid robots to walk and handle things. This means I get to do quite a lot of programming as well as lots of long and complicated equations.
What I'd do with the money
I would organise a lecture with the robots for schools to attend
I would organise a lecture at a university in the UK, to which I will invite schools from all around UK (including primary schools). The students can attend the lecture with the school or with their parents.
The lecture will be about how can these robots be used in schools, and why it would make a good assistant to a teacher.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Organised, ambitious, enthusiastic
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I was giving a talk with one of my robots and one of the students said that my session made them consider becoming an engineer.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not that much
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Medical Doctor (Cardiologist)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Trying to syncronise two robots for them to dance together. Didn’t go out as planned!
Tell us a joke.
What do you get if you cross a robot and a tractor? A trans-farmer!