Greg Rigas - R&D engineer in Printed electronics
1. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child I wanted to be either an astronaut, a pilot or a formula 1 driver.
2. Who or what inspired you to become an R&D Engineer in Printed Electronics?
I would say that it was a direct influence from my parents. With both of them holding higher degrees in Engineering, they served as role models. Since I was 5, I was acting as my dad’s “sidekick”. From repairing our apartment’s broken boiler to designing an automation system for my fish tank, I was next to him passing over the tools or assisting him with his calculations. I was always amazed by his ability to understand and interact with pretty much everything governed by the laws of physics, maths and chemistry. In my question to him “how is it possible to do so”, his answer was always “because I am an Engineer”. When I finally decided that, indeed, Electronic Engineering was the right choice for me, everything else came quite naturally.
3. Tell us a little bit about your role. What does your typical day involve?
A typical day starts with reviewing the to-do list for the day. That usually involves prioritising the development requests from clients and designing the experiments required for each one of them. At the end of the day I review the experimental findings and plan the necessary corrective actions for meeting the requirements.
4. What qualifications did you take at school/college?
Maths, physics and chemistry A-levels.
5. Did you go to university? Was a degree required for your role?
Yes, I did. I hold an undergraduate degree in Electronics Engineering, a Masters in Nanotechnology and Nanoelectronics and, a PhD in the same field. Although the latter is not necessary to work in R&D, it provides some necessary skills and specialisation required in more cutting-edge fields.
6. What gives you the most job satisfaction?
Tackling the challenges associated with bringing printed electronics into large area production, is probably the most satisfying aspect of my job. Solving a new and more sophisticated riddle every day is what keeps me motivated when I wake up in the morning and prepare to go to work.
7. If you could give one piece of advice to a young person who is considering becoming an engineer, what would it be?
The first one would be “do it”. From building bridges connecting two continents, to inventing the tools for treating terminal diseases; Engineering is the point where all basic sciences merge to shape the world around us. As an engineer you are basically creating a world that has never been before.
8. What do your friends/family think about your job?
The majority of my friends and family consider what I do as “witchcraft”. Some of the concepts we are working on at early R&D stages can be seen as science fiction for sure.
9. Do you have any hobbies that you like to do to relax?
Yes, I do. I enjoy going to the cinema or playing a video game when it's too rainy outside, or hiking and astrophotography when it's not. I love road trips regardless of the weather and free diving when I am travelling to countries with warmer climates.
10. Would you say that you had a good work/life balance?
Yes, I definitely have.
11. What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future?
Imagine a future where instead of going to your local retail shop to buy your favourite gadget (like a smartphone or a tablet); you could simply download the circuit schematics from the manufacturer’s webpage (like a pdf), put some inks inside your home inkjet printer and print your fully functional and working device. Science fiction? Well… Maybe not.
Printed electronics are revolutionising the way we fabricate our electronic devices and, with advances in the field of nanotechnology, have the potential to realise a plethora of new concepts. Medical implants for enabling people to walk again, early stage cancer diagnosis at the cost of a pregnancy test and flexible smartphones; are only just a few of the examples within this exciting field.
12. What should no engineer leave home without?
A scientific calculator, a notebook and an appetite to change the world.