Meet a EEE Tutor – Prof Patrick Gaydecki
Meet the Department 20th February 2018
Prof Patrick Gaydecki teaches the third year Digital Signal Processing unit, which is a compulsory unit in the Electronic Engineering stream. Patrick also supervises third year projects centred around his musical research.
Please can you describe your research, for the layman, in ten sentences or less?
My research involves quite a few different things which appear surprisingly different. For example, we develop electronic devices and systems for biomedical applications, such as smart inhalers for people suffering from respiratory disorders, wearable internet-based devices to monitor progress in patients who have undergone joint replacement surgery and ECG and EEG analysis. We also have a big research programme in the live monitoring of bee activity in the wild – since bees are key pollinators of crops and are in worldwide design. Finally, we do a lot of musical instrument signal processing in my group. This involves making an electric violin sound like an expensive wooden instrument.
How can your research benefit the public?
Lots of ways. Clearly, the medical work has obvious and immediate benefit. For the bee work, if we can identify important factors that improve pollination and reduce long-term decline, that has significant public gain. As for the musical research, we have a spin-out venture that produces effects processors for violinists. Not only is the research commercially useful, it also allows musicians to be more creative with their performance.
How did you first become interested in your research area?
This is a difficult question. A scientist or researcher has to be open to lots of possibilities, so it is important to read widely and be well informed – not just about science but about current trends and all the other things you get taught at school. For example, it always surprises me how much artistic pursuits influence my interests in science and engineering.
Who or what first inspired your interest in Science and Engineering?
As far back as I remember, I had a love of science, and my father was an engineer who encouraged my interest. Much of my early childhood was spent in my father’s garage, amidst a plethora of tools, car batteries, bits of old televisions, model steam engines, dynamos, valves, tobacco tins crammed with nuts and bolts, bottles of mysterious and wonderful-smelling chemicals, electric motors, relays, bulbs, strange actuators filched from scrapped aircraft, timber, sheet metal, hardboard, paints and varnishes.
I would sit on the floor, playing with wires, whilst he constructed miracles of rare device that were usually lethal but almost always wonderful. He taught me to solder when I was nine, and together we built my first short wave radio.
These early influences stood me in good stead during secondary school and university, when science got tougher and more and more maths crept in. Somehow I knew that beyond the slog, the essential wonder of science remained, and all the techniques that I found difficult were just so many tools in helping you achieve something really worthwhile.
Can you tell us a little about your other interests?
Running. I do a lot of it. I am told that it is good for the brain. Also Reading – not just science but literature. In this business, if you want to write a good paper you need good prose. And sure as hell, if you read trash you will probably write it too. Other things include playing the guitar.
What do you get up to in your spare time?
Chatting with my two children, Callum and Lucy, who are neither scientists nor engineers but who have some very interesting views about life. I think it is important to be challenged.
Arguing with my partner about the best cafes to visit at the weekend – Didsbury is filled with them.
Going to the theatre as Manchester has a rich variety in this regard.
Running, playing the guitar, reading and going for long walks with the family dog, Dottie.
How does being based here in Manchester help your work and research?
Manchester is a great place for just about everything. The University is superb, and I am surrounded by colleagues and students with extraordinary talents. Manchester of course does not have a very good reputation for football; that is reserved for Leicester City.