Internship - Flight Engineer

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5 Jan
Oran Ellis

Hi, my name is Oran Ellis, and I am currently interning for Gibson Robotics after completing my fourth year of aeronauticalengineering at Glasgow University. I began a three-month long internship at thestart of June and have been working full time as a flight engineer within theteam since.

After finding out about Gibson Robotics and its goals at the end of 2019, I was immediately sold and began looking into internship positions. The company’s immediate vision is to create an autonomouscounter-drone system to react to the new threat of malicious drone use in theaerospace industry. The idea is straight out of sci-fi and proof that thefuture is now.

Before starting my role at Gibson Robotics, I had3 years of experience building and flying racing drones as a hobby, so Ialready had a familiarity with UAV's in general as well as experience in avariety of related areas. The skills and knowledge I picked up from pursuingdrones as a hobby has helped immensely during my time at Gibson Robotics. Ihave good intuition regarding problem solving and coming up with novelsolutions whilst understanding the hardware limitations of drones. Havingfamiliarity with the problems I am trying to solve is a simple but understatedbenefit.  

Originally my role at the company as flightengineer included making sure the physical hardware can function correctly andfly towards the target drone, lining up the target on approach. A core part ofthe business ethos at Gibson Robotics is to encourage you to work to yourskillset, even if it's beyond the scope of your immediate role. As a result, myrole has diversified to include working on the hardware setup, firmwareconfiguration and software aspects of the prototype as I have hardwareknowledge that can transfer into writing software, as well as assisting with 3Dprinting to prototype various parts of the capture mechanism.

At the start of the internship, I was tasked withbuilding and configuring a test platform, which could serve to test softwarelater in the project and eventually be a target for capture. This involvedsizing components to the wing size and choosing suitably rated power electroniccomponents for driving the propeller. The drone had to then be assembled, wiredup and configured in software before flying. Having never worked in anengineering design environment this was my first taste of autonomous workingand problem solving. When working in a start-up where you are responsible forsignificant aspects of a project, coming up with ideas is an absolute must. Ihave found it very rewarding to see parts of the design shaped by solutionsI've suggested or designed, but none of this would have been possible if Ihadn't engaged fully with the project.

After building and flying the test platform Imoved onto the design of the prototype, as this type of problem has not beensolved before a significant amount of research and planning is required beforewe can begin building and testing a prototype. At this stage communication withother team members is key as the design is in a constant state of flux beforesolutions are settled on. This is made much easier by Gibson Robotics being anamazing team with no reservations about challenging ideas with everyone remaininginformed about other areas of the project to provide suggestions and support.The team has a very good mix of expertise allowing this complex project to berealised.  

Going into the role I was warned that it would be a busy summer and thatcertainly turned out to be true, however, that has not been a problem as therole is dynamic enough to not stagnate which I feel is one of the most excitingthings about working at a small company or start-up. This internship hasoffered invaluable experience to me at the start of my career, teaching me alot about being able to work well autonomously with a team and has given me aninsight into the engineering process in the real world. I have also gained manynew skills which I can take forward, for example group software development andmanagement. The role has given back as much as I have put in and I hope I cancontinue to move forward with Gibson Robotics.

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