Mechanical Engineering and Neurotechnology
John Lewis and Blacks
Imperial College London
I’m a student who makes wearable sensors when I’m ‘at work’, and robots when I have free time
I’m a PhD student at Imperial College London, working in one of our many robotics labs. Most of my time is spent designing and building new wearable sensors, just like the ones in smartwatches, and the rest of my time I spend making other cool things, playing football, or eating pizza. My dream is to go to Mars as an astronaut!
My work is in the field of neurotechnology, designing wearable robotics to help us see how brain diseases affect the way people walk and balance
Sometimes, when people get a severe brain disease it can make their brain less able to control their body. An example of this is Parkinson’s disease. I’m designing sensors to study the changes that take place in these people – such as walking more slowly, or being less balanced. With this information, it may be possible to make better treatments and improve the lives of these people.
My Typical Day
Breakfast, coffee, second breakfast, coffee, lunch, coffee, dinner.
In reality, there is no ‘typical’ day. Part of doing a PhD is that you get to decide what work you want to do, and you get to set your own deadlines. That means that almost every day, I just do the thing that I feel like doing – so sometimes that’s writing some new code for an App, and other times it’s testing out a new design for a sensor. Every day is different, and I get to decide!
What I'd do with the money
Robots for everyone!
In reality, what I’d like to do is develop a health monitoring kit that you can make and personalise. It would record maybe your heartbeat, and how active you are during the day – maybe even with a leaderboard for your class. Who would be the most active? You could customise it too, and make it whatever colour and shape you like!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Hard-working, ambitious, goofy
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
What did you want to be after you left school?
An astronaut (and I still do!)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, a little
What was your favourite subject at school?
Design and technology
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
I built a 3D food printer
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Tell us a joke.
I used to think an ocean of soda existed, but it was just a Fanta sea
This is my desk. I always want it to be tidy but it never is:
We use Arduino boards a lot, as it helps us to make prototypes very quickly:
When we’re happy with a design and we know it works, we miniaturise it and get it made by a professional company:
Here’s a wearable glove system that I built with a team to measure the quality of a person’s sense of touch, when they’re recovering from a stroke:
The results were sent from the glove to this mobile app I built – and it would update the score for each finger:
This picture is the final design of a 3D food printer I built with a team. It’s about 1 metre wide and 1/2 metre tall!
This is halfway through printing. You can see one of the cartidges of food here – the other two ingredients are pumped in on the back via tubes.
And here’s the result! They’re chocolate and strawberry flavoured!