Meet Joshua Olaiya, one of Nigeria’s rising stars in the field of robotics. Despite facing financial constraints, Joshua is determined to create his path in the world of robotics and make a difference in his community.
Through his hard work and dedication, Joshua has developed innovative robotic solutions for various industries, including agriculture, healthcare, and transportation. He’s also passionate about mentoring and inspiring other young people to pursue their dreams and achieve success in STEM fields.
Can you tell us about your background and how you became interested in engineering?
My background is in the field of robotics as a self-taught. I became interested in engineering and robotics through my natural curiosity and love for tinkering with machines and electronics. I spent countless hours reading books, watching tutorials, and experimenting with various robotics projects until I gained enough knowledge and skills to build my robots.
What are some of the most interesting projects you have worked on in your career so far?
Some of the most interesting projects I have worked on include developing an autonomous robot for precision security, creating a hand gesture robot for the disabled, creating a robotic arm for medical surgeries, and designing a self-driving car for urban transportation.
How do you stay current with new developments and advancements in your field?
Staying current with new developments and advancements in robotics requires a continuous process of learning and research. I attend industry conferences online, read technical papers, and participate in online forums to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies in robotics.
Can you walk us through your process for designing and developing a new product or system?
My process for designing and developing a new product or system involves identifying the problem or opportunity, conducting research and analysis, brainstorming ideas, creating prototypes, testing and iterating, and refining the final product.
How do you approach problem-solving in your work, particularly when faced with a difficult challenge?
When faced with a difficult challenge, I approach problem-solving with a systematic and analytical mindset. I break down the problem into smaller parts, analyze each part separately, and then look for ways to connect them to solve the overall problem.
How do you collaborate with other engineers, both within your team and across different departments or organizations?
Collaboration is a crucial part of any engineering project. But I am not in collaboration with anyone yet. Many of these guys that reach out to me ain’t as committed as I am. They kept pleading they are busy so I haven’t seen anyone as serious as I am.
How do you ensure that the products or systems you design are safe and reliable?
Ensuring that the products or systems I design are safe and reliable requires thorough testing and validation processes. I conduct rigorous testing, both in the lab and in real-world environments, to identify any potential issues or safety concerns.
How do you test and validate your designs before they are implemented?
To test and validate my designs, I use a combination of simulation software and physical prototypes. I test the design in various scenarios and conditions to ensure that it performs as expected and meets the project requirements
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenges I have faced in my career have been related to financial constraints, lack of resources, and limited access to cutting-edge technology. To overcome these challenges, I have focused on creativity, innovation, and resourcefulness to find alternative solutions and workarounds.
What do you see as the future of engineering, particularly in the fields of robotics, aerospace, software, and hardware?
The future of engineering, particularly in robotics, aerospace, software, and hardware, is incredibly exciting. I am seeing rapid advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics that will revolutionize the way we live and work. I believe that the future of engineering will be characterized by increased collaboration, interdisciplinary approaches, and a focus on sustainability and social impact.
Can you tell us about a time when you had to troubleshoot a complex issue, and what steps you took to resolve it?
Troubleshooting complex issues requires patience, persistence, and attention to detail. I approach the problem systematically, analyzing each component and testing various hypotheses until I identify the root cause of the issue. Once I identify the problem, I work to develop and implement a solution that addresses the issue at its source.
How do you prioritize competing demands and deadlines in your work?
Prioritizing competing demands and deadlines requires effective time management, organization, and communication skills. I prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency, communicate with stakeholders to manage expectations and focus on completing high-priority tasks first.
Can you give an example of a successful project you have completed, and what do you think made it successful?
A successful project I completed involved developing a Hand gestured robot that moves by following the movement of your hand typically built for disabled people. The project was successful because of my extensive research, and focus on user-centred design. I also conducted extensive testing and validation to ensure that the gesture robot was safe, reliable, and effective for its intended purpose.
How do you approach working with interdisciplinary teams, and what do you think are the key factors for successful collaboration?
Interdisciplinary teams require effective communication, collaboration, and respect for diverse perspectives and expertise. I can approach working with interdisciplinary teams by actively listening to others, being open to feedback, and valuing the contributions of each team member. Key factors for successful collaboration include clear communication, shared goals and expectations, and a focus on problem-solving.
How do you approach incorporating feedback from stakeholders into your designs and development process?
Incorporating feedback from stakeholders is a critical part of the design and development process for any robotic solution. To do this effectively, I take a collaborative approach and work closely with the stakeholders to understand their needs, expectations, and concerns. I listen carefully to their feedback, ask questions to clarify any uncertainties, and incorporate their ideas into my design process. Regular communication and feedback loops are essential to ensure that the stakeholders are satisfied with the final product.
16-What do you think are the most important skills for an engineer to have in your field, and how have you developed those skills over time?
In the field of robotics, I believe that the most important skills for an engineer to have are creativity, problem-solving abilities, technical expertise, and an eagerness to learn. Creativity is critical for developing innovative solutions that can address real-world problems. Strong problem-solving skills are essential for identifying and resolving issues that arise during the design and development process. Technical expertise is necessary for understanding the intricacies of the system being designed, while a willingness to learn ensures that engineers stay up-to-date with the latest developments in their field. I have developed these skills through a combination of self-study, hands-on experience, and mentorship from other experts in the field.
Can you discuss a time when you had to make a difficult decision in your work, and how you arrived at that decision?
One challenging decision I had to make was related to selecting the most appropriate technology for a robotic solution. There were multiple options available, each with its advantages and disadvantages. To make the best decision, I gathered information on each technology, weighed the pros and cons, and evaluated them against the project’s requirements. Ultimately, I made a decision based on the project’s technical feasibility, cost, and the potential for scalability.
How do you approach project management and ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget?
To approach project management and ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget, I use a systematic approach that involves defining project goals, breaking them down into smaller tasks, and assigning responsibilities to team members. I establish clear timelines and deadlines, regularly track progress, and communicate frequently with stakeholders to ensure that everyone is on the same page. I also allocate resources effectively and take a proactive approach to identify and mitigate any potential risks or obstacles that may arise.
Can you discuss a time when you had to adapt to changing circumstances or requirements during a project, and how you handled that situation?
In one project, I had to adapt to changing circumstances when the project’s requirements shifted midway through the development process. To handle this situation, I worked closely with the stakeholders to understand their revised requirements and identify areas of the project that needed to be modified. I then adjusted our approach, resources, and timelines accordingly to ensure that I could deliver a final product that met the new requirements within the given timeframe.
How do you approach continuous learning and professional development in your field?
Continuous learning and professional development are essential in the field of robotics since it’s constantly evolving. To stay up-to-date, I regularly attend online conferences, youtube live events from robotics or aerospace companies like Tesla, SpaceX or boston dynamics, read technical papers and books, and participate in online courses and workshops. I can also collaborate with other experts in the field, share knowledge and experiences, and learn from their expertise. Finally, I make sure to apply my new knowledge and skills to my work to continuously improve the quality and effectiveness of my robotic solutions.
Interviewed by: Mariam Badmus and Oluwatomisin Olowoyo