I'm Silas Adekunle, 21 years old and my passion is Robotics. I'm a robotics engineering student at the University of the West of England in Bristol, where the biggest robotics lab of its kind in the UK is currently located. I came from Nigeria to this country with my family when I was 11. I'm currently on my placement year, trying to gain as much engineering experience as I can.
Apart from building robots, which is my number one interest, I have a wide array of things I love to do, to name a few: going to the gym, watching movies, chess, learning another language, reading and much more!
How did you end up running a teaching programme, while being thought yourself?
As far back as I can remember, I have always been involved interested in how electronic and mechanical things work, I was also Just as passionate about zoology and nature, so as a kid, if I wasn't taking my sister's toy part, I was looking at how spiders walked, freaky, I know. But Robotics was my opportunity to combine all of this together, it gives you the ability to dream up a new creation that can fascinate, inspire, entertain and educate people and then build it. My passion wasn't just building these things but to then share them with people.
In my first year, I got involved with the university's schools partnership scheme, teaching maths and sciences in local schools, I noticed that STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects were not very popular and most students don't plan on doing anything STEM related in the future. I read up on the subject and discovered it was a real problem, my solutions was to try and use my passion to make a difference, robotics ties is many aspect of STEM, and who doesn't like robots?
The next steps were up and down moments, looking for funding, getting advice from my professors and the schools partnership team but at the end of the day with a bit of luck and persistence I was able to get involved with Prince's Trust Excel programme, I now manage a team that takes robots into schools to engage students and hopefully we'll just keep expanding.
How has teaching other helped you personally?
Teaching others is very beneficial, you develop many skills such as effective communication and planning that later become useful in life, if you can stand in front of a class of noisy students, grab their attentions and teach them something, an interview with a prospective employer will be nothing.
Also nothing beats that feeling when a student tell you they're glad that you're making a difference in their lives. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to give something back to the community.
What other projects are you involved in
I'm currently trying to start my own entertainment robotics company, It is widely believed that robotics is the future and it's a rapidly growing field that will make a lot of impact in the next few years. What I like to do is Wow and amaze people, which is why I’m focusing on the entertainment side, if you ever thought of having your own robot with non-other like it in the world, it’s just around the corner.
What are the challenges you face while doing all the projects and University at the same time?
There are many challenges to overcome, greatest of all is time. I have barely any spare time therefore I try to be as productive as possible, with a 3 hour commute each day, I try to do some work on the train and the bus so those hours don't go to waste. Staying motivated can also be difficult but you have to keep your eyes on the goal.
What advice do you have for people who wish to turn their university project into a real invention?
Decide on exactly what you want your product to be, network and tell people about it, you'll get lots of feedback that can help refine your product. Know exactly why you want to this it, people believe in your passion more than your product, if you can sell yourself well, it will be easy for people to latch on to the product you're trying to sell. It’s not an easy road and you'll be busy, but you're young, have lots of energy and not tied down, this is the best time to pursue your goals, if things work out, you're rich, if they don't, you now have lots of experience that make your more attractive for employees.
What advice do you have for students who wish to teach their own field at school?
Again, decide on what it is and why, it has to be something you're passionate about. Use your university's network to its maximum potential. Schools don't have a lot of disposable funding, therefore don't expect people to throw money at you, you'll have to have something interesting and different to grab their attention. You could start by discussing your ideas with a local teacher at a nearby school and start making connections.
On a finishing note, stay motivated, look at the lives of many successful people and you'll see that they've worked hard to get there, if you want what they have, you'll have to work hard too. A quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger: "You keep pushing because you believe in yourself and in your vision and you know that it is the right thing to do, and success will come."
Click here to read more about Silas involvement with the Princes Trust.