Laurence de Bruxelles: Robotics Software Engineer

 

Laurence de Bruxelles: Robotics Software Engineer

RAL Space — Didcot

"As a child I loved reading encyclopaedias and books about rockets and space"

(Credit: STFC)

What do you do in your job?

In our group we build robots that explore rough terrain, from farms to deserts. Researchers use our robots to carry all sorts of instruments to map and explore the world. The technology we develop will eventually be used for robots to explore other planets!

I write the software that controls how the robots move and navigate, so that they can safely drive themselves to where they need to be.

If you had to summarise the impact your job has on everyday life – what would you say in two sentences?

A lot of the technology we are currently working with is aimed at making farming more sustainable, by helping farmers monitor crop disease and use fewer pesticides.

In general robots are becoming more and more important for doing things humans could never do, because it is just too unsafe; such as inspect collapsed mines, decommission nuclear power stations, or detect unexploded landmines.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I love learning new things and trying new technology, and I get to do that every day in this job. No day is ever the same!

What did you study at school?

I always enjoyed both arts and sciences at school; as well as doing physics and maths I also have A-levels in history and English literature. At university I decided to study physics because it opens up so many different career paths. After that I went on to study further to specialise in space systems engineering, which has always been a dream of mine.

What inspired you into a career in science/engineering?

As a child I loved reading encyclopaedias and books about rockets and space. I’ve also always been interested in taking things apart to see how they work (which sometimes annoyed my parents!).

What top tips would you have for people wanting a job like yours?

  • Get experience any way you can; playing with electronics and programming for fun is a great way to learn.
  • Always ask questions.
  • If you show people that you love what you do, they’ll appreciate it.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes - try things even if you’re not sure what will happen.
  • Learn about the industry you want to work in - get an internship, go to conferences, read the news.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000