Meet a Phd Student – Liam Brown
Meet the School 13th April 2018
Liam Brown is in the final year of his PhD study working on robotic applications in hazardous environments, his supervisor is Dr Joaquin Carrasco. Liam has been heavily involved in the UCAS visit days for the past two years so you may recognise him from the mechatronics activity.
I am building a pipe inspection robot for the nuclear decommissioning industry.
There are miles of pipework that may contain nuclear material. Without knowing what’s definitely in them, they have to treat them as contaminated. This is incredibly expensive to dispose of, so they want a robot to scan the pipes for radiation. My research is the development of that robot for traveling within these unknown pipe networks.
It can have benefits in multiple ways, not only does it reduce the time spent by workers in these nuclear contaminated environments. It could help to bring down the county’s cost of nuclear decommissioning which is a multi-billion pound fee. A saving in this could allow more funding into other areas of the country.
How did you first become interested in your research area?
Who doesn’t like robots?
As a kid I always enjoyed building things, especially K-NEX with the little electric motors, I suppose this was my first real enjoyment of robotics. The real decider on robotics for me was my degree, specifically the 4th year project. We built a robot for decommissioning glove boxes. The challenge and enjoyment of that project pushed me to wanting to do a PhD in robotics.
My A-levels in electronics and maths pointed me in the right direction of electrical and electronic engineering.
Who or what first inspired your interest in Science and Engineering?
I’ve always enjoyed building things and understanding how they worked, as a child that was K-NEX and LEGO. As I got older this developed into more complicated things, I enjoy playing video games so I built a computer to have a platform to play on. It wasn’t one thing or person just a continual interest.
Can you tell us a little about your other interests?
Outside of playing with robots, I enjoy tinkering with my cars. I find hitting old rusty things with hammers a nice contrast to programming and building small robotics every day.
What do you get up to in your spare time?
Apart from tinkering, I also am a fan of beer. This takes me on lots of trips across the North West to pubs and breweries. When I get some time apart from all that, there’s always video games and YouTube to keep me busy.
How does being based here in Manchester help your work and research?
Manchester is great, not only does it have some cracking pubs but our robotics department is really good. This means for me, I have access to lots of new equipment such as 3D printers and it really aids in me developing my robots.
What course did you study with the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering?
I did the 4 year MEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Manchester.
What did you enjoy most about it?
For me it was the projects throughout the course. They inspired me to do a PhD and really made the difference for my motivation to work throughout the course.