What attracted you to the role of KTP Associate?
KTP blends the creativity and innovation of a research job with the reality and needs of the industry. It gave me the opportunity to develop a system from scratch and bring it to a production machine, covering all aspects of the project development.
To what extent has your understanding of the role been realised?
From the beginning of the KTP, I understood the challenges of the project and the needs of the company and had to acquire the necessary skills to design and develop the final system. Through all this process, I had help from the company and university sides.
Had you heard of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships before applying?
Yes, I heard about it during my PhD. I was looking for my next step when I was finishing my PhD and found the role on a job search website. For me it was the perfect transition from the academic world to the industry.
What have been the most positive aspects of your role?
Apart from working on a project from start to finish and applying research skills to real-world problems, it also gave me the opportunity to lead all the aspects of the project. I gained invaluable experience in all aspects of robotic design, from the review and selection of components, CAD design, manufacturing techniques or programming and designing a system from scratch to manufacturing level.
What have been the biggest challenges?
When you start working on the project, you realise that two years it is not a lot of time if you consider that you are working from scratch on something completely new and you have to deliver a working solution at the end of the term. My project was very multi-disciplinary, and I had to work on many areas at the same time developing the necessary knowledge and skills to complete the task.
Describe a typical day as a KTP Associate:
My typical KTP day was changing as the project was moving ahead. At the beginning, I was spending more time getting to know the company, the industrial field and the challenges of the task. Then, there were stages were I was more focused on CAD design, other times I was building and testing prototypes, dealing with suppliers for purchasing of equipment, programming or using manufacturing equipment. Since you are in charge of the whole project, you need to do a bit of everything.
Have there been any unexpected experiences or outcomes of your role?
Apart from the main automated robotic workcell, there was a first semi-automated prototype developed early in the project, which is currently being used by the company on their real product. We also developed new jigs to hold their small semiconductor devices.
What training and development have you benefited from as a result of working as a KTP Associate?
The KTP residential modules provided an introduction to project management and business and financial concepts. On the management area, I also took a Sig Sigma course. Given the importance of programming in my project, I took an introductory and advanced course on VB.NET and Python. In addition, on technical aspects I did some training on Autodesk Inventor.
How would you describe the unique experience of working as a KTP Associate?
KTP is the perfect bridge between academia and industry. It is like a research job but designed to solve a specific real industry need. You work within a company but are not subject to the demands and constraints of a production environment where your day-to-day work schedule is dominated by short-term deadlines and objectives.
Instead, the KTP allows you to lead a project to develop a key long-term strategy for the company. In my case, the KTP project has allowed the host company to develop a new robotics system completely in-house improving the process efficiency and the capabilities of the company. This was made possible thanks to the resources released by the KTP program, blending the experience in the semiconductor industry from the part of the company with the knowledge in automation and robotics by the university side.
Would you recommend a KTP Associate role to other graduates?
The KTP has been a great experience for me and I would definitively recommend it to graduates or to anyone willing to transition from academia to industry, like PhD students. Furthermore, it still gives you the opportunity to keep publishing, improving your academic profile. Although it can be challenging at sometimes, you have a lot of support from the company and university sides, while expanding your technical and personal skills. Furthermore, the available training budget is a perfect opportunity to enhance your skillset.
Which three words best describe your experience of being a KTP?