A few weeks ago, the engineering team at Quanser grew yet again. Our new colleague, Thomas, is fresh from school, and his path to Quanser is quite interesting. So we sat together recently to talk about how he got here, and about his interests and goal.
Zuzana: Let’s start with how you found Quanser and how Quanser found you.
Thomas: My relationship with Quanser started a few years ago when I was finishing my Aerospace Engineering undergraduate studies at the University of California San Diego. I was taking a controls class, and in the lab, we used Quanser 2 DOF Helicopters, trying to learn the PID Control. That was the first time I encountered Quanser.
Later on, I came to the University of Toronto to continue my studies. During the Industrial Day organized by UoT, I met Paul Karam, Director of Engineering at Quanser, and I had a great chat with him. And a few months later, I attended the Alumna and Industrial Partners dinner at the campus. There were 10 or 15 long tables set up, and by a pure chance, the person sitting in front of me was Paul Gilbert. At the time, I didn’t know who Paul was. He was talking to one of my professors and when I joined their conversation, I realized that he was the Quanser CEO. I just talked to him about my interest in robotics and aerospace, and about my professional goals. And I think it was one of the most important conversations for me in my entire life. I really liked what Paul Gilbert told me about the company and its approach to engineering education and research. I thought I would love to be a part of a company like that and help it grow. So when I graduated later in Spring, I reached out to him to see if there would be an opportunity for me. And here I am!
Zuzana: Were you always interested in engineering?
Thomas: When I was in high school, business was my favorite subject. But I always loved airplanes the most. I was born near an airport. I saw airplanes taking off and landing every single day. That’s why I decided to study aerospace engineering. But I think having a broader focus is very important. So in my graduate school, I decided to shift a little bit towards robotics. At the University of Toronto, I worked in Professor Wasslander’s lab. I helped set up the drones and worked on aerial robotics projects. But at the same time, I also took courses in international business and financial engineering. One day, I would like to bring my passion for engineering and business together, so having this wide range of studies is important to me.
Zuzana: You are at Quanser for a couple of weeks now. What are your first impressions?
Thomas: During the first week at Quanser, I had to digest a lot of new information, but that’s normal, right? I need to learn a lot of things. I had a lot of questions, but everybody was very helpful and patient, no matter how busy they were. I am very excited and happy to be here.
I spent most of my first weeks with the QBot 2e robot, and now I started working more closely with the team developing the new self-driving QCar. That’s really cool. I get to play with it a lot.
Zuzana: What was the most impressive or the most surprising thing so far?
Thomas: I think I’m not going to be a typical engineer. As I said, I want to combine my engineering background with other areas, such as sales, marketing, or project management. And it is awesome that a company like Quanser would give me this opportunity and to let me become what I want to be. I don’t think I would get the same chance and support in a large company.
And with this, we welcome Thomas on our team. Being well-grounded in the theory of autonomous systems, and having experienced Quanser systems in both his undergrad and graduate studies, Thomas is excited to apply the theory to real physical systems. That is exactly the type of engineer that thrives at Quanser – regardless of whichever department their career takes them to!