From prize-winning project to building a business
We caught up with Subu after graduating from Electronic and Computer Engineering BEng(Hons) with the IET Prize for 2020 to boot, and find out what she is taking from her studies and the award to help develop her business and her career. The prize is awarded to the student with an outstanding academic achievement on an IET accredited degree.
Congratulations on winning The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Prize at this year’s ceremony! Can you tell us about it?
My prize consisted of a certificate, and two years free membership of the IET, and I was awarded an additional cash prize from the University of Brighton to go with the IET Prize.
The two-year IET membership is most valuable. The E&T magazine, IET events, and resources available through the membership will boost my career and personal growth. The recognition itself is a definite plus to my CV. I anticipate this award will make a positive difference in my future academic and professional pursuits.
How do you feel about winning the award?
It was extraordinary. It was a personal fist pump moment. Having won the IET Sussex Network Prizes in 2018 and 2019, I had worked hard in 2020. I had received multiple merit and need-based scholarships while studying in Brighton. By winning the award, and proving my competence, I felt like I had made the UoB Philanthropy department and donors proud. I am very thankful to the engineering faculty, staff, friends, and my family for their immense support.
Can you tell us more about your final year project?
I built a low-cost data acquisition (DAQ) and telemetry system for the 2020 Brighton Racing Motors (BRM) Vehicle Performance Prediction team.
Telematics units have been used in Formula One race competitions over four decades to enable live monitoring of a car performance. The BRM team had not built/implemented a data acquisition and telematics system prior to my project in 2019-2020. I proposed the idea, under the guidance of Dr Daniel Coren and Dr Deshinder Singh Gill, to ensure valuable data were recorded every year.
Feasibility study of in-vehicular sensors, bump modelling and causal analysis of the sensor data were important early steps. The telematics system consisted of microcontrollers, microprocessor, and CAN controllers. I programmed resilient active-standby pairs. I explored AWS IoT Greengrass, MATLAB ThingSpeak and OwnCloud platforms for real-time data storage and analysis. Cross-platform command-line computing and network debugging were integral parts of the project. The current Formula student team is building upon my work.
I was mentored by cross-department engineers at Ricardo UK as part of the Ricardo UK – University of Brighton Industrial Mentorships scheme. Under their guidance, I was able to better analyse the performance of the DAQ and telematics system I built.
My long-term plan is to work in the field of automation, AI and control systems, which aligns broadly with the learning experiences I have had during my project.
Have you continued to have support from uni for your business, (a technological innovation (UNITEC) to avoid the use of extra call centres during clearing)? If so can you tell us about it?
I have received immense help from the Beepurple team. They helped me get endorsement for a start-up visa, which has provided me with a fantastic platform to further build on my idea. They have made valuable introductions, including mentors, potential investors, and IP specialists. This has truly made a difference in terms of my approach and attitude towards entrepreneurship, especially as we collectively face the economic and emotional impact of the pandemic.
Students at the University of Brighton have made an impact on our growth as well. Last semester, three students in the Engineering Management module evaluated our business propositions. Their feedback to the business was valuable. This semester, we are engaging with business students to get additional support in marketing and business modelling.
Perhaps the most important contribution to my business has come through the Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs Competition. We represented the University of Brighton in the competition and garnered massive learning experiences in pitching, team management and motivation. We were also provided a fully funded marketing intern through the University of Brighton-Santander Universities partnership. We are currently engaged in the UoB STEP-UP scheme. We hope to soon initiate a research collaboration with academia through the UoB KEEP+ scheme.
Finally, I have received massive support from UoB staff and alumni network. I was directed to approach the alumni network by the philanthropy team, which has proven to be very valuable.
How does what you learned on your course work support your business plans?
Perhaps the module most directly relevant to my business right now is year 6 Product Design. It taught me a lot of essentials in teamwork, strategic planning, operational planning, financial what-if analysis, risk identification, dependency modelling etc.
At Brighton, I got a platform to ask a lot of questions, trial out different ideas, learn and increase my engineering knowledge. Had I not been in Brighton and working as a student ambassador at the Clearing Call Centre, I would not have come up with my business idea. There is an immense entrepreneurship support culture in Brighton university and Brighton city. I am glad I came here.