Dr Jonathan Aitken: ACSE Research Fellow and Module Leader
Dr Jonathan Aitken is a Research Fellow in the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering but has recently undertaken a new challenge... teaching!
We have asked Dr Aitken to provide us with an insight in to his new undertaking and how his research at ACSE has not only helped him reach this pointbut also how it assists with his teaching methods and new role as a module leader.
Friday 10th Feb 2017:
Today was my first lecture, teaching on the Robotics course ACS329. It's been an exciting and enjoyable trip to get here, and it's great to be teaching on a course that I feel very passionate about.
Throughout my career (to date) I've always taken as may opportunities as I can to work with students either through teaching or demonstrating for lab courses. During my PhD I taught extensively on programming in C and Matlab, with particular focus on control and flight control. My first post-doc position was in the Computer Science Department at the University of York. Being a post-doc changed my teaching opportunities as demonstration was no longer an option. I was very fortunate however to be invited to give guest lectures on some of the MSc courses. These were very useful experiences and allowed me to build my confidence for managing and preparing teaching materials. This was also my first introduction to the rather large set of tasks that sits alongside teaching; although I wasn't directly responsible for them!
When I joined ACSE my long-term aim was to look for an academic career. I was keen to undertake some more teaching and I've been very fortunate to be offered Robotics ACS329. As a module leader it's a bigger challenge than I've previously experienced, as I'm responsible for the teaching and examination. So far the biggest surprise and hardest element to get used to has been the amount of admin work that has come with this new role, especially as I want to ensure a balance between my new teaching role and research outputs. Everyone in the ACSE support team has been fantastically helpful, and always on hand to answer the questions that I've got - making this balancing act much easier.
I enjoy teaching and it's great to be in-front of a class, especially when the subject is one that's so relevant to current technology and to my own research. I want the focus of the material to always come back to the practicalities of real-world implementations. This is especially important for anyone going into industry to work on robotics - it's key to know how systems function in the real world. I think it's also important to be aware of the impact of robotics on society as a whole, as I'm well aware from outreach events how concerned the public are about robots entering the workplace.
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