Why did you decide to go to Queen’s?
I undertook my undergraduate studies at Queen’s, and while it wasn’t always the plan, the funding for my current project was sourced via working with my Masters’ Supervisor, who heard about this particular call.
Tell me about your academic experience at Queen’s?
The majority of my time is spent at QUB’s ECIT facility, a world class centre for Electronics, Communications, and Information Technology, at the Northern Ireland Science park. While ECIT is about 5 miles from the Main University site, there is a regular free shuttle service. The facilities and environment afforded at ECIT allow for a great compromise between an ‘office space’ where I can knuckle down, strap my headphones on, and read papers or write simulations, and a collaborative space where I can discuss my research with colleagues in mine and other research clusters.
My project is particularly strange in terms of teaching support, and I have two supervisors with two research teams and two funding bodies spread across two (and sometimes more) countries. A lot of my supervision and interactions are Internet based, with occasional teleconferencing calls to discuss major issues, and in fact I believe this makes me much more efficient as I can work anytime from anywhere with an Internet connection.
Sometimes this arrangement does require face-to-face interaction, so I have lots of opportunities for travel (and the obligatory expense account!), and will over the course of my PhD become fluent in a second language.
What do you get up to in your spare time?
Outside of my research work, I’ve very involved in the local STEM community (much to my supervisor’s discontent!). In my Masters year I started a QUB Society called QUESTS (Queen’s University Engineering, Science and Technology Society) of which I’m still President. Additionally, I’m involved in the local IET chapter, and occasionally consult for local industry on recruitment and community matters. I’m also working with a group of local students and business leaders to build a ‘Geek Gym’ in Belfast City Centre, called Farset Labs, as a shared resource for the community to experiment in technical challenges usually out of reach to the general public and even the research communities.
What’s it like living in Belfast?
Belfast is a vibrant city with a great variety of nightlife and activities. I live quite close to the main university site, but city-wide transport is fairly simple, and 90% of the most interesting/entertaining places are within walking distance. Belfast has exceptionally low living costs for its size, and makes for a great home.
The rapid growth in the research and development industry in Belfast, and the wealth of experience in the area, make Belfast a great city to be a part of today and in the future.
What are your plans for the future?
To attain my doctorate, and to retire! Well, more likely to go into consulting, possibly getting involved in a few more local start-ups. Then Retire.
“The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry”