Testimonial by Abdel B., Technical project manager since 2012 @ Flanders Make
As a Technical Project Manager, you spend time discussing with and challenging people. I want make sure we are looking look beyond the current possibilities. That's why I get really enthusiastic when we are trying different things, because I want to see how far we can get. One thing I learned, is never to draw conclusions in a premature phase.
In the Locovision project 3 industrial partners were involved. The goal was to develop low-cost vision systems for industrial applications. We wanted to use existing low-cost components and add software. The resulting algorithms can be used for several applications:
- Bekaert uses vision systems to inspect the quality of metallic wire.
- Tenneco uses vision systems to monitor the road and detect bumps in the road to be able to increase the comfort in the car with smart suspension systems.
- Picanol uses vision systems to detect the quality of the yarn.
My role is to translate the project proposal into an execution plan:
After a discussion with the Core Lab Manager a team gets allocated to the project. As technical project manager you review the team and make clear which competences are needed to execute the plan.
- Concept Phase
As technical project manager I need to decide on the conceptual architecture. For this we work together of course. Several concepts are proposed by the team. I set up a meeting and ask the opinion of the industrial partners. You try to get everybody to look together at one concept so you can start developing. The argumentation to choose between concepts is also important knowledge to document for future use and reporting.
- Developing phase
I coordinate the execution. To develop a prototype I usually follow the V-model. However is not a one time shot. In an agile way of working you work towards milestones and iterate with the partners.
As a Technical Project Manager you don’t have to be the expert on the topic. I surely understand the basics but I can rely on the experts in my team for their detailed view. So I invite one of them to come along when I visit the partner companies. That's how we cover all aspects when we check out the company's requirements (maximum cost and working conditions, such as rain/wind or movements/speed,….).
I like the fact that you can combine the knowledge of different people – and together you can create something new: new content from that new combined knowledge. You get confident along the way that you can make technological breakthroughs happen.
I also like to work with a lot of different people. My challenge is to socialize. I can suddenly find myself in a room with different cultures, different views, different mentalities. A good example is how someone working at the industry side can sometimes say “I need this tomorrow” which contrasts quite a bit with academic experts that are used to a longer-term view.