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A short video from engineers at Kitronik and Pimoroni on how they got into physical computing and how they grew their careers.
I’m the tech director here at Kitronik. So I run the technical development team who are responsible for developing all of our in-house products. And we also evaluate, technically, the stuff that we buy in from other suppliers. I am electronics hardware engineer at Kitronik. Mainly involving hardware, PCB, circuit design, but also included in the role is coding and testing of products. Technology is in day to day lives. I mean, everybody carries around a mobile phone, which probably has more computing power in it than the rocket that sent man on to the moon sort of thing. So it’s in trying to get people excited about how those sort of products work and electronics and the software behind everything like that.
I’m the co-founder of Pimoroni, and we design, manufacture, and sell fun electronics to anyone who needs them. It’s important because a lot of electronics can be off putting, and we want to change that so people feel that electronics are for them, or something they can play with. I do education and outreach, and that’s basically, I take the technical things that we make, and I make them understandable for people. I’m head of digital content, and that involves quite a mix of different things. So when I first came in, it was mainly writing tutorials to tell people how to use our products, and probably more kind of the technical side of it. As well as I do photography and video.
So product photography and short bits of video about our products.
I did not come a conventional route. I studied physics. So I’m actually a nuclear physicist, and then I went in to ticket fraud analysis. I’ve been a conveyancer, and sold houses, and done the legal paperwork for that. I’ve been a teacher and I’ve been a special needs teacher. So all of those things add up to making me an inquisitive person who’s logical at solving problems, and working out how to explain them to other people. So I think that has been my route into physical computing. I got here today by a very non-standard path. I did well at school, and then I went on to university.
And it was going to be out of university to be an engineer, except the six months in, the maths was just my brain switched off and said, I’m no longer interested in this. And it was 1995, so the world wide web was just coming along, so my brain went, uh, shiny. Let’s follow that. So I dropped out, followed that, learned how to graphic design and make web pages. Then fell into companies doing that. Then fell into companies doing technical things. And so I flipped between graphic design and technical, learning new skills until I started making my own company. Yeah, it’s really complicated. So my background is in science. And so I did a degree in medical microbiology.
I went on to do a PhD, and that was also in microbiology, but part of it was also kind of programming and data analysis. So that was kind of my introduction to the world of coding, and kind of scientific data analysis, and that kind of thing.
There’s so many skills you can pick up either through simple online courses or just by having a go yourself that gets you started before you might want to go in and get perhaps more official qualifications in some of these areas. There’s not necessarily one route. If you are doing something that involves communication, you are getting those skills. If you wanted to go a formal route, for me, the explaining, the delivering things in person, the doing workshops, all comes from my teaching experience. So I have that from there, but you don’t have to become a teacher to get that experience. You can go volunteer at a code club, or you could go and help out a local school.
You could listen to kids read and you could help them to understand what they’re reading because part of this is about helping people understand technical manuals. I didn’t do a huge amount of programming at university. Actually, a lot of the stuff I’ve learned I’ve gone online and tried out some of the tutorials and things like that. And buying products that you can just kind of get to grips with a little bit, and so really help improve your creativity. And just having a go. You do a lot Googling. If possible you try it. If you know people who know a little bit about it, you kind of find a way to get that knowledge from them and work with them.
Make friends with them, spend some time trying and failing. A lot of trying and failing, and research, and you’ll probably be fine. On most things out there, there is information out there now for what you want to learn.

In this video, you’ll meet some of the people working in physical computing today.

You’ll find out how they got into physical computing and how they grew their careers.

They also provide their advice on the pathways they might recommend for anyone interested in developing a career in physical computing.

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Introduction to Physical Computing

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