Ziad standing in front of some palm trees

Ziad Abass

Why did you decide to study at the University of Leeds?

After doing some research and asking some friends, Leeds stood out as a setting that creates an optimum balance between the academic and the social aspects of the university experience. 

Why did you choose this particular course?

The future of almost every industry involves robotics/mechatronics or machine intelligence. This course not only manages to integrate mechanical systems with electrical systems, but also digs deep into computer science fundamentals which mechatronic systems would be useless without.

I have always been interested in understanding how intricate machines and softwares function. I felt that this course would firstly help me develop this understanding and, secondly, prepare me to be an innovator of my own.

What have been the best aspects of studying your course, and why?

The opportunity to work on hands-on projects is given from as early as year one, which, for me, was crucial to develop a deep understanding of what was being taught in lectures. I also enjoyed the lack of monotony in the structure of this course. In terms of teaching, it focuses on only the most practical modules from each of the three involved schools (Electrical, Mechanical and Computer Science), therefore helping one focus on what really matters. In terms of assessment, the methods varied greatly from module to module, and this minimised the tediousness of simply sitting countless tests and exams. 

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed on your course?

As a team of 6, we designed and programmed an autonomous mechatronic arm using SolidWorks and built it from scratch. The objective was to create a proof of concept for an arm that can guide a micro robot inside the body from the outside, making colonoscopy procedures non-invasive and much easier and accurate. Our team got third place in the competition. 
More recently, I worked on developing an interface system based on neuromuscular signals from hand/forearm gestures to be employed in stroke rehabilitation. I developed a wearable sleeve that can capture muscle signals from the forearm through dry, 3D-printed electrodes and interpret them. Machine learning was then employed to train a classifier that can realise which hand gesture has been performed based on the muscle signals read.

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

Anyone from any background would feel welcomed at Leeds. The city itself is always alive and buzzing, and there is always something to entertain students regardless what their interests are. 

What are your ambitions for the future?

I aspire to employ the knowledge and experiences gained through education in the real world to become part of big projects that matter. I would be learning more as I go down that path as I am convinced that learning does not stop upon graduation. 

What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

I believe the biggest one would be to always have a positive mindset, as I have seen how much grit and determination it takes to innovate and to get projects up and running. Although challenging, maintaining such a positive yet practical attitude especially in stressful times is the key to clear thinking and effective problem solving.

My time at Leeds has also shown me the importance of going above and beyond the syllabus. Being successful can never start with fulfilling the minimum requirements of a mark scheme, but rather with going the extra mile when working on a project to think of how it can be bigger, better and more useful.

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

This course is a tough ride for sure, but is also very rewarding. It leaves you with a sophisticated understanding of the systems of the world around you and helps prepare you to be part of the next big thing.