TIMOTHY, AUTOPILOT LEAD
How long have you been at Navico for and what are your experiences so far?
I have been at Navico for five months and I’ve had a great time so far!
What kind of projects are you involved with?
Today I’m involved with the development of a vessel dynamics simulator, which uses a 3D engine and environmental simulation to provide a realistic test platform. I’m also involved with the development of software for our next generation of MFDs.
What makes Navico and the R&D team a great place to work?
Navico has a great team and atmosphere! The Auckland office is dominated by R&D, but there is product, support and sales and a ton of passion for boating, fishing and sailing.
How important is R&D to Navico’s industry (i.e. – the world of marine electronics)?
Navico’s market is specialized, small, high end and has stiff competition (there are four major players and many smaller suppliers). You need a competitive edge and high quality to make sales, and without R&D you will quickly lose that edge and quality.
In addition, the marine environment is rough on electronics – devices bake outdoors in the tropics, live in bilges and have to deal with salt and oil. That requires significant investment in development, testing and people.
You operate in a very specific field – i.e. – autopilots. How did you end up specialising in this area?
I studied electronics and computer systems, and then a Masters that focused on signal processing. After that I worked on projects designing robotics / control systems with a number of companies. Marine autopilots are an interesting mix of electronics, control theory and software. Other members of the team come from electronics engineering, pure mathematics, and more recently machine learning backgrounds.
Finally, what advice would you provide to someone that is aspiring towards a career in R&D?
You have to understand your product customers and market to a greater degree than other roles in engineering. Try branching out into design, marketing UX for example.