Ahmar Ghafoor speaks about his time studying Mechatronics at Dundee Institute of Technology / Abertay University. He speaks about the societies he was involved with - Dungeons and Dragons, Sci-Fi society; his project to design and build a computer; the changes that university status brought; how the university has changed since then; his subsequent career working in mobile technology.
0.00 Interview starts – Ahmar Ghafoor, former student at Abertay, student during the transition to University status
What did you study and why?
Went to do an HND in Electrical engineering because failed GCSEs
0.50 Abertay was the first place to do Mechatronics – MSc sponsored by NCR and so was a joint Abertay and Dundee Uni degree
2.00 Was there anything else you ever considered studying?
Wanted to go to Warwick but family moved to Dundee, really wanted to do Mechatronics
3.20 What groups were you involved with?
Dungeons and Dragons; some people imported episodes of Star Trek: Next Generation from America and they’d all watch them in the pub on the big screen
4.30 What’s your proudest moment/achievement?
Design a computer and it worked first time, completed his MSc project in 2 weeks
5.10 Did you notice anything change when Dundee Institute of Tech became Abertay University?
Yes, more investment in the labs, library was built, there was a joke that there were “more computers that books”
6.20 What do you think the experience at Abertay would be like for students now?
Don’t have to carry so many books now, everything is online
6.40 Are you still in touch with anyone you met at Uni?
Colin McLean who is a former lecturer of his, once a year say hi to some people, Camilla at NCR
7.20 Is there anything in everyday life that I would use that you have worked on?
Mobile phones, 10 years in Nokia, worked on the first GPS Bluetooth chips in mobile phones; very first contactless payment designs but was shelved as was ahead of its time
8.20 Would you prefer to go to University as it was then or with the improved technology there is now?
Prefer it with improved technology, in those days you couldn’t get online if your Mum was on the phone; don’t need to go into Uni now,
9.07 Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories?
Sixth Sense film had just come out, was in a lift with some girls who were talking about it and they gave away the whole plot including the twist at the end. He still watched it that night!
10.10 Are you still friends with anyone from university?
Not really friends with anyone from Uni, moved away and there were a lot of mature students
10.43 What did you do after you left University?
Now works with the robotics team with Dyson, working on the next generation of robotic vacuums, works on the wireless communication to connect it to internet;
Before that CMR Surgical who made robots to aid keyhole surgery; UPTOS – machine that scans your eye
12.35 When a graduate it’s difficult, but afterwards it’s about learning how to learn – filtering, knowing how to find the information;
Never be scared to say I don’t know, the team will help;
Reasons for going into engineering - all about problem solving, need interpersonal skills too
15.20 What was your favourite thing about University?
Dossing around; when they got high speed internet, some would bring in their home computers and download things
After Masters had a researcher post, which can be very lonely, it was nice to share problems with others,
Gave him access to a lab even after he left to work at NCR
16.20 Did you ever get in trouble at University for anything you and your friends were doing?
Didn’t get in trouble at Uni, because it’s different
16.48 Were you involved in any sports clubs at Uni?
No sports at Uni, but now run a cricket club, never into sports until had kids