Dr James Birchall

Alumni Profile: James Birchall

What I gained from my PhD with the CDT:

Aside from building on my technical knowledge base, and experiencing a variety of interesting experimental techniques, one of the most important things for me was learning how to be confident enough in my work to present it effectively to an audience of peers. This was something that was definitely not natural to me when starting the CDT, but that I can take in my stride quite happily now.

What I enjoyed most in my PhD:

Was probably having the freedom to solve problems a the way that both suited my skillset, and in a way I really enjoyed. For me this tended to involve lots of hardware engineering; building circuits, test rigs and measuring things! Additional benefits included being able to travel widely to present my work to a variety of audiences around the world.

What I have done since graduating:

I've been lucky enough to experience a few different roles since finishing full time study with the Center for Doctoral Training in Communications. These have tended to be centred around low TRL level research projects involving communications systems for the defence and security industries, with several interesting asides around ultra-low powered sensing techniques. Off the back of all of this, I decided to start a small engineering consultancy business (Electro-Technical), targeted at filling electronics and RF skills gaps in the hotbed of creativity that is Bristol. Over the past three years, we’ve built up a range of hi-tech tools and test equipment suitable for all kinds of diagnostic and developmental services, and a serviceable workshop for a range of rapid prototyping and light mechanical engineering; from heat-sinked enclosures to internal research on cavity filter production. As of February 2022 we hope to be in our own premises, just outside Bristol, with plenty of space for larger projects and hopefully expanding the team! Over this period we have contributed to projects as diverse as carbon fibre recycling, biological digesters, single photo detectors, and a range of counter surveillance and counter IED techniques.

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