This is why he applied with the Flanders' Mechatronic Technology Centre (FMTC) where he worked as a project engineer for various industrial projects. FMTC is a member organization that researches and improves mechatronic applications in close cooperation with the Material Sciences Department at the KU Leuven faculty of Engineering Sciences. Mechatronics establishes an optimal combination of mechanics, electronics and software. Applications can mainly be found in machine design. “In the three years I was working for FMTC, I was contributing to about four projects, including defining and implementing a 3D object tracking system.”
About two years ago, Andy Motten was introduced to the Expertise Centre for Digital Media, a research institute of the University of Hasselt. This institute has been around since 1987 and focuses on Computer Graphics, on the interaction between man and computer and on Multimedia and Communications Technology. “I was able to get to work there as a Ph.D. student with a scholarship from the University of Hasselt. My research deals with Multi-camera Computational Video Architectures. My goal is to develop a hardware that is reconfigurable and offers a solution to the problem of the delay that occurs between capture and rendering of a multi-camera 3D system. After all, such systems require a lot of computing power and even with powerful PCs you are limited in the quality and speed of the image processing. The application possibilities of such architecture are many: 3D television, visual inspection systems, traffic monitoring, etc. I research the architecture that is at the base of future applications.”
Happy reunion in China
At the moment of our conversation, Andy Motten has just returned from a six-month visit to the University of Zhejiang in Hangzhou, China. The universities of Hangzhou and Hasselt are both working on different parts of the research project and at regular intervals, time is made to exchange information. But at the same time, the Ph.D. students of both universities are introduced to the working methods of the other university and that of course is very enlightening. “For me, it was a happy reunion with China. I like to go there and I had maintained good contacts after my first stay in Shanghai. I had visited Hangzhou then as well and so the city wasn't entirely terra incognita to me. Every time it strikes me how friendly the people are there: they do anything to make you feel at home. I stayed at a hotel at the university on the campus and was provided with my own workspace.” Andy gave presentations there detailing the state of affairs of his part of the research and learned about the progress of his Chinese colleagues' research. “I found that Chinese education is of a very high level. This is also further improved by the fact that master's students work together with Ph.D. students in the same laboratories. As a researcher, I found this particularly interesting.”
The international exchange, certainly between countries with different cultures, is particularly invigorating and stimulates research. “The fact that you are looking at a problem with colleagues from various backgrounds, offers new viewpoints, ideas and surprising insights. That sharpens your creativity and often helps you arrive at new solutions. During my stay in China I put that into practice by writing a few papers together with my Chinese colleagues. That was an interesting experience!” Andy continues the cooperation with the University of Zhejiang: he will soon be leaving for another week in China.
As mentioned above, Andy Motten owes his good contacts with China to the apprenticeship in his final year in Shanghai. “Still, the contact with China is not the only thing that makes GROUP T a special university college to me. Thanks to GROUP T, I can rely on a solid base of management and I learned how to communicate and present. I use in particular the latter regularly when I need to present the state of affairs of my research to my colleagues or other interested parties.”
And the future? Andy hopes to complete his Ph.D. within two years. And afterwards he would like to continue doing research. It makes no difference if it is in Belgium or abroad as long as he can make his dream come through.