Welcome to a blog series about what it’s like to work at a venture capital (VC) funded robotics startup. This blog is focussed on our mechanical engineering team who design and test the physical parts (gearboxes, motors etc) of our patent-pending and world-leading wall climbing robots for inspection and maintenance.
Today you’re going to meet Jenna and learn some more about her robotics career, background, training and what it’s like to work at HausBots.
I (Jack, CEO and Co-Founder) have written up a short interview with Jenna to hopefully get more of a background.
Jack: What does your job at HausBots entail?
Jenna: It really depends on the day. As a mechanical engineer I can be doing anything from designing a 3D model, performing simulation studies, preparing manufacturing documents, experimentally testing a prototype in real, or researching novel ideas for future designs. Although every day is different, one thing that is constant is problem solving unexpected issues that occurred that day in either my own work or a colleagues.
Jack: Can you tell me some more about yourself, background and training?
Jenna: I am originally from Canada, but I’ve been living in the UK for a little over 3 years. I got a Bachelor’s degree in Canada in Mechanical Engineering Co-op, which means I completed my degree while earning 2 years of full-time work experience in the oil and gas industry. After I graduated I moved to England and completed a Masters degree in Human and Biological Robotics Engineering at Imperial College London. After that I got my job at HausBots and moved permanently to the UK.
Jack: Why did you get into robotics?
Jenna: I was first introduced to the idea of robotics at my elementary school. I was lucky enough to have a robotics club, where I got to experience building and programming little lego mindstorms. We entered First Lego League competitions and competed with other elementary schools so I think that’s where I developed an interest in the industry.
As I got older I really developed a passion for Mechanical Design, which led me to pursue my undergraduate degree. Throughout that time I gained invaluable work experience as it helped me realize what industries I didn’t enjoy working in, and it inspired me to expand my skill, which led to my masters degree. The rest is history!
Jack: Why does working at a startup appeal to you?
Jenna: I have always enjoyed working on group projects in school, and working in a startup has a similar vibe. You learn to wear a lot of different hats, more so than a large company, because you have limited people to do things so your skill set grows exponentially. Also the idea that I could play a significant role in the development of the project or business appealed to me.
Jack: What advice do you have for someone looking to explore robotics as a career choice?
Jenna: Well I guess this answer depends on the age of whoever is reading this answer, but I should start off by saying that the field of Robotics is very diverse – you can work in a lot of different fields, for example medical robotics, animatronics, human-robot interfacing, Artificial intelligence, etc. and within each field there are different specializations to pursue, for example mechanical design, electrical engineering, control development, path or task planning, etc. Just because one element of robotics does not interest you, explore other options!
The first thing I would recommend someone do is to start being creative at home, and see what interests you the most. Make anything.
Second, look for opportunities at your school or University, see if there is a robotics club, or a coding club, and if there isn’t see if you can start one!
Third, jump at any opportunity to visit a robotics lab, or participate in a hackathon, or other robotic style competition. Don’t worry about your skill level, the main purpose is to learn.
Lastly, get as much work experience as you can. That is what will help you figure out what work you like to do, what work environment interests you, but most importantly it can help you learn what you don’t want to do. Before I settled in robotics, I had a lot of work experience that I didn’t enjoy.
There is no one way or right way to go into robotics, just follow your passions, and put yourself out there to try new things.