"An autonomous world would be amazing"
Marta Boavida from Portugal loves autonomous systems. She dreams of a world where people's basic tasks can be replaced by robots. No wonder she is now studying Autonomous Systems at the EIT Digital Master School. Go meet Marta.
Marta entered the EIT Digital Master School in 2018. Her first year was at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden and in her final year she attended the University of Trento. When she found out about this Master programme, she aborted an integrated bachelor/masters mechanical engineering in Lisbon in Portugal.
Why did you choose the EIT Digital Master School?
"I love smart cities and improving the environment we live in. I think cities should be smarter and there should be more technology in transportation. I was unhappy with the Master's I was in. I wanted to be more engaged with the industry. I knew about EIT Innoenergy, which is the same concept as EIT Digital, and works with the Lisbon University. Via a magazine from another university, I read about the EIT Digital Master School programme Autonomous Systems and I thought, "Wow this touches on both the engineering field that I like, and the entrepreneurial side. I applied immediately and quit the Master's I was already in."
What attracts you to Autonomous Systems?
"In the programme, you get a chance to work with autonomous systems and vehicles. I like the idea of removing human beings from basic tasks. That is how I see the future: people using their time to grow and invest in what they like instead of working in factories or risking their lives to save others when you can have robots to do this. The same applies to driving vehicles. Buses and trams can drive completely autonomously. That would take the weight off drivers. An autonomous world would be amazing."
How did you choose your entry and exit university?
"I wanted to go to KTH for its reputation. Plus, I wanted to study in the North and experience a completely different culture. Sweden is a technological country; people embrace technology and use it in their lives. In Portugal for example, people have just recently started using apps to pay. The University of Trento was a logical choice because of the specialisation in real-time perception, decision and control for autonomous driving. The university is open to smart cities projects and the teachers are really good, they talk from their own experience."
What is the best thing so far about the EIT Digital Master School?
"Ooh, there are so many things. I had an amazing opportunity to live in two different countries. I love the entrepreneurial side of the studies. I expected it to be more theoretical, but it is very hands-on. That is very useful. I am doing a Master's thesis now in a startup, and this background helps me to participate in brainstorms a lot for example. The double degree also is very good. Furthermore, I like the alumni association a lot. They do an amazing job of allowing Master's students to contact former students. On their website, you can see on a map showing you where alumni are based in the country you are currently in, so that you can reach out to them."
What are the three main lessons you have learned so far?
1) "Be open. You meet people from different countries who have different bits of knowledge. Some even have their own companies. It is a great opportunity to learn a lot outside of the classes."
2) "Engage and have fun with the entrepreneurial tasks you get. The classes in summer school are very hands-on for example. You are invited to participate in discussions, to freely talk and give ideas. So don't be shy and embrace this opportunity to let your creativity speak."
3) "Whatever your background is, believe that you have something to offer. It is precisely the different backgrounds that bring you the most when combined together. All EIT Digital programmes focus on this concept."
Where are you doing your internship?
"My internship is at the startup Done Enterprise Ltd in Finland. I work as a development engineer in my area: planning and control of autonomous vehicles. That is all I can say about my thesis. I and other people in the company work together to create a final product. Here, the things I learned to master during the EIT Digital masters are useful now, like thinking about users, business model canvas, lean canvas."
What will you do after your graduation?
"I have not thought about that yet. My dream has changed a lot. Honestly, I enjoy the position I have now. I learn a lot, working in a startup. You can talk about projects without feeling restricted to schedules or company rules. But I will most likely keep on learning, pursuing a PhD, for example, or I could work for a big company. I will see."