Jim Sykes

Jim Sykes

Why did you choose to study Mechatronics and Robotics?

I was always interested in studying something related to Electronics and Computer Control but didn’t want to be sat in front of a computer all the time. Mechatronics is great because it offers a mixture of Electronics, Control and Mechanics with lots of building and programming projects.
I was torn between Leeds and another University, which had the same entry requirements and offered a similar course. However, when I visited Leeds, I really loved the university and the city. There’s a great atmosphere in Leeds!

What was the best aspect of the course?

I’ve really enjoyed the variety of the course. Due to the nature of this course being a combination of three schools, it means there is a lot of different theory and practical work to get stuck into. Project work starts in the first term of first year. I’ve been involved in designing various remote control vehicles (including one with a robotic arm), a miniature robotic gripper for keyhole surgery and a swallowable capsule robot, designed for non-invasive obesity treatment.

As I’ve progressed  , I’ve become increasingly aware of the sense of community among staff and students in Engineering, which creates a really great working atmosphere. There are also lots of other things to do besides studying, such as visiting the Student Union, which is fantastic and provides many services and activities.

Have you gained any work experience?

I worked during two summer vacations for the School of Mechanical Engineering. I was involved in research, which contributed towards the ongoing work of the department. During the first summer I developed a programme, which could take a 3D snapshot from an Xbox Kinect and turn it into a virtual model. During the second summer I worked within a team to design and build a robotic arm for teaching.
It was helpful to practice skills and theory outside of academic work (and get paid for it!). I also felt that working closely with the staff and networking was beneficial.

How have you found life in Leeds?

Leeds is very multicultural so there’s something for everyone. The city is full of history, arts and music for all tastes, as well as great restaurants and bars! I was heavily involved in my Church and the Leeds University Union Christian Union, as well as a few musical societies.

What are your plans after graduation?

I have secured a job working for a small Electronics and Microfluidics company just outside of Leeds. I always intended to work in Medical Technology Development and I’m currently involved in that field, among other things, in my current employment.

There is a lot of support given by the Engineering Careers Team to increase employability for students, which really helps when initially looking for a graduate job.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

I would say, ‘Do it’! It’s such a great course. Although it’s pretty hard work at the time, it was definitely worth it because now I’m going to be doing what I love as a career and couldn't be happier.