Super Seven #18 Robert Starkwood
In the eighteenth of our Super Seven Questions Series we profile our Integrated Photonics Engineer, Robert Starkwood. Rob joined us in April, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge in experimental physics, fabrication and characterisation of photonic integrated circuits, and quantum cryptography
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Milton Keynes; home of Marshall Amps and Bletchley Park. I eventually got out and studied Physics and Engineering in Southampton and Glasgow. After chasing each other to various countries around the world my now-wife and I settled in London for a few years. We’ve just moved out to Bristol where the quality of life is almost as good as the quantum tech!
2. What do you do in KETS?
As an integrated photonics engineer, it’s my job to understand and control the physics going on at the core of KETS’ devices. The beauty of the job is that we’re a small team of great individuals who can always turn our hands to different tasks whilst constantly working things out together.
3. What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
Working inside a team of talented and stimulating people. The sheer breadth of interesting challenges I’ve found myself tackling keeps me constantly on my toes.
4. What inspires you?
Ever heard of “T-shaped” people? People who exhibit both a depth of skill in a field (the vertical bit of the T) and also a wide breadth of interests in all kinds of random areas (the horizontal bit…you get it). I’m usually amazed and inspired by people who manage a good mix of both.
5. What advice would you give someone wanting to get into Engineering?
Study. You’ve absolutely got to get the maths / theory / coding skills under your belt, no excuses. However, get started on pet projects or solving ‘real’ problems as quickly as possible. You won’t have a clue what you’re doing at the beginning but the sooner you start trying, failing, and trying again the sooner you’ll learn more valuable skills.
6. What do you do when you’re not in work?
During lockdown, since travelling to interesting countries and hiking up mountains has been off the cards, I’ve been doing a decent amount of cycling. Also making terrible music at home that thankfully only my wife and cat have to listen to.
7. What was the last book you read?
Becoming, Michelle Obama’s autobiography. She’s an inspiring woman. I loved the story’s message: ‘we’ve got our feet firmly planted in the reality of today but they’re always pointed in the direction of where we want to get to eventually’.
To get in touch with Rob, drop us an email at [email protected]