Dr Jihong Zhu
BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering, 2013
Postdoctoral Researcher in Robotics, Delft University of Technology
I work with robots, more specifically robot manipulators (which resemble a human arm). My job is to design algorithms for robots to safely interact with humans in the environment while executing a given task. Apart from my research, I am also involved in teaching assistance for the new robotics master programme at TU Delft and supervising master students.
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
The best thing about being in robotics is the feeling that you are not waiting for the future to come but inventing it. It is a young field and highly interdisciplinary. You will meet people from different backgrounds doing robotics, from computer science, control, mechanical engineering, even neuroscience.
How has your career developed since graduating?
I moved to the Netherlands for my master degree in systems and control, during which I also spent almost one year in Germany. I was first at GE Global Research for an internship, then at the German Aerospace Centre for my masters thesis. Then I moved to France to do a PhD in robotics. And now,, here I am again in the Netherlands working as a postdoc in Robotics and Machine Learning. I’ve studied and worked in four different countries, but it all started from Birmingham.
Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
Birmingham has a 2 + 2 programme with my home university in China, Huazhong University of Science and Technology. I chose this programme hoping to gain an international outlook during my bachelor (look how international I've become now!) and experience different study modules in the world's top universities. In addition, I was also fascinated by the beautiful campus of Birmingham.
What are your fondest memories of the University?
For me, my time at Birmingham was a life-changing experience. I remember fireworks at the Vale, celebrating Chinese New Year with my colleagues from all over the world and, of course, late nights at the old library (unfortunately the current student can't experience that anymore, but I’m sure they can in the new library!) trying to prepare for an incoming exam. If I have to name one fondest memory, that would be during my final year project with Professor Mietek Brdys. Thanks to his guidance I found a subject that I was really interested in. That led me to do a masters in systems and control at TU Delft, then subsequently my PhD in robotics.
How did your time at University help you start your career?
I found my interest during my time studying at Birmingham and that subsequently shaped my career. I started off doing electrical engineering and I am now a roboticist.
“Be bold, and try to stay out of your comfort zone.”