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Björn Lindqvist
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From space engineering to robotics and AI

Published: 2 February 2021

Björn Lindqvist graduated in 2019 with a Masters in Space Engineering. Today he is a PhD student in robotics and AI at Luleå University of Technology.

What do you do as a PhD student?

- My main task is writing scientific papers to conferences and scientific journals, within the areas of the depatments active projects. I have already from the start been involved in serious research projects with large industries where I have had to take a leading role.

What is the best part about being a PhD?

I like research and finding solutions to open problems. If I have to mention one specific thing it is probably our collaboration with NASA:s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, the largest robotics competition in the world. Even if I didn't end up in the space sector I still got to work in a project with NASA and that is very exciting of course! Robotics is a very real-life based and experimental research subject, and it is very satisfying to see algorithms you developed yourself perform and solve problems.

When you look back at your education, what are the most important things you learned?

- It might sound boring but the mathematics and physics that I studied during the first and second years at the university definitely is what contributed to getting into my subject. I also think that the time at space campus in Kiruna, with the Institute of space physics in the same building, gave me very important experiences - suddenly we students were in the middle of space researchers and satelite labs.

How was it to study at Luleå University of Technology?

- Personally I love Luleå. The university has a large focus on research, so almost all of your lecturers and examiners are doing research in a bunch of interesting subjects. For me that contributes to keeping the education interesting, and creates possibilities for students to get involved in projects.

Do you have some advice for someone who is thinking about studying space engineering?

- Space engineering gives a great baseline during the first years, and you really have the opportunity to specialize and customize your courses in multiple directions. Choose a subject or course that really interests you and spend your elective courses to get into that subject. For me that was automatic control and robotics, which I knew absolutely nothing about before I took my first course in control theory.

How are you using your education in your current job?

- Except giving a good baseline, it is probably the project courses and my master thesis that I did in robotics that are the most useful. Although, we have just started a research project in a very interesting subject in collaboration with researchers at Kiruna: Space Robotics, and there I see how my space specialization is directly applicable.