My adventures in the field of cybernetics began more than eight years ago when I graduated from high school in Prague and I could name properties of an alkaloid, draw a detailed profile of a cell or even calculate the derivative of a composite function, but I had no idea which college to go to. As a stalwart fan of science fiction, I have always been interested in robots and computers, even though I started with no knowledge of electronics or programming. Finally, with only a vague idea of what Cybernetics actually was, I applied for the FEL programme, Cybernetics and Robotics, specialising in Systems and Control. It turned out that it was a very good choice. Not only have I learned how to build and programme a robot, I’ve also learned how to control it. I admit that the course was challenging, but it was also fun. In retrospect, I must admit that the mix of theoretical mathematics, physics, programming, electronics and others provided by the school is well balanced and makes sense.
From my perspective, the best thing about cybernetics is the blending of deep theoretical knowledge with the real world. This is how the KyR programme works. Lectures are very interesting, but the greatest tests come in the laboratories, when one sees that the piece of code actually ‘moves’ something. And it doesn’t have to be a material thing like a robot, a car or a plane; it can also be more abstract, such as optimizing energy production. Another great advantage of KyR is the opportunity to be a member of research teams in some of the departments. This kind of work really gives you a boost. I was lucky enough to be part of the team of Zdenek Hurák at the Department of Control Engineering, where I worked on a project dealing with the effective management of entire lines of vehicles on a highway. Since we obviously could not afford to buy real cars, we used toy remote-controlled racing cars which we fitted with various microprocessors and sensors. At first glance, we were ‚“playing“ with toy cars, but we also learned to design hardware, programme processors and work with the latest scientific techniques. At the end of my master's degree, I was even given the chance to ride in a fully automated motorcade in Sweden.
The concept of the control column was so impressive to me that I decided to reject tempting offers from companies and continue with my doctoral studies under prof. Sebek. Doctoral studies leads a person to be creative and to have greater scientific independence. At the same time it allows them to deepen their knowledge through individual study and also by practising through attending lectures for lower grades. An integral part of the doctorate is presenting research at international conferences. At these conferences, doctoral students meet many of their peers, who are often tackling similar problems. A nice bonus is that the conferences are usually held in beautiful and interesting places. I have had the opportunity to visit such exotic locations as Hawaii and Cape Town.
At the moment I am handing in my dissertation and have just joined the company, Porsche Engineering. I have to say that the use of my cyber "background" could hardly be better. In fact, one has the choice of what one enjoys the most. I was finally torn between Porsche and Mechatronics in the development of autopilots for small aircraft at Honeywell in Brno, where I worked during my doctorate.
In conclusion, I would like to wish all future students good luck in selecting the right university and programme, and to quote Richard Feynman: „I don't know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough.“