I obtained my HBO-Bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering at the HvA in Amsterdam. Not quite ready to commit to a full-time job yet, I decided to work towards a master’s degree in delft. Having set my sights on an MSc in embedded systems (a dedicated field within electronic engineering) I still needed to bridge the gap between a HBO bachelors and a WO masters. Bridging this gap is done by doing a pre-masters course that takes roughly a year which I am currently doing.

Whilst walking around on the TU-delft campus a poster caught my eye, advertising a part-time function for project MARCH. I immediately got excited and after some short application process I was officially part of the crew! For me this was a great opportunity to learn more about the practical aspects of designing electronics, while still being taught the theoretical aspects during the premaster courses. There are some courses that have directly allowed me to apply my freshly gained insight in the electronics of the exoskeleton. Combining this theoretical knowledge with a practical project allowed me to learn far more than I would have imagined.

Within Project MARCH I am part of the electronics department, which designs all the electronics of the exoskeleton. This involves for instance all the power distribution and the communication between subsystems of the project. My main focus is the power distribution within the exoskeleton. Power distribution is extremely important for any battery powered vehicle, because it ensures that every subsystem has the right operating conditions to function properly. With every decision, I need to remember that the end product will have a real human pilot and therefore must be as safe as possible.

Currently we are in the process of building the first function Power distribution board for the exoskeleton. Working with motors that draw up to 15 amperes of power means that you have to be extra careful designing this board. If you choose one component that is not able to handle this amount of energy throughput, that component becomes the bottleneck. This by extension means that the entire system can fail due to only one wrongly chosen component. Additionally, with high currents you need to take into account the heat dissipation of certain components.

 The picture above shows a measurement of the heat generation of a power convertor.

The picture above shows a measurement of the heat generation of a power convertor.

For some this is quite scary, but I consider this to be a challenge. Doing the best I can to overcome this obstacle and succeeding is a great feeling. Failing, although not a great feeling, is arguably even more important because this means that there is an opportunity to learn something that I did not know before, and that is my main take out of this project after all, learning.

Working in this dreamteam has really been an amazing experience for me so far. Every time I get in I notice that we are one step closer to our end-goal (pun intended). Working together with a great team of bright minded students has given me the confidence that we will be able to build an amazing piece of medical equipment that will reshape the way paraplegics move around.