After studying mechanical engineering and completing a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, it didn’t take long for Simon-Pierre Côté to find the yellow brick road to Kinova Robotics. At 30 years old and after a year working for the company, the verification and validation test engineer readily admits that he lives in a dream at Kinova. Here are 10 questions to the voluble and friendly engineer…
1- Tell us about your journey, what led you to robotics?
“In the imagination of a little boy, robots are like magic, with movies and TV programs that talk about robotics, it was already an interest but I did not think I could make it my daytime job because it was complex. A product that brings together electronics, mechanics and software seems a lot. I was wondering if I could do it. Finally, I studied mechanical engineering with biomedical concentration.”
2- Your studies have led you to what type of job?
“I had a first job in software validation in medical imaging at the Institut de cardiologie de Montréal. It was interesting but not quite what I was looking for.”
3- What was your first contact with Kinova?
“I realized that I had friends at Kinova and I learned about the company, the product, its mission, its vision and values, and I applied. It worked and since I started it’s almost a dream. When my girlfriend talks about my job, she always says that I found my dream job and I have to say, she’s right.”
4- What guided your choice towards Kinova?
“It’s one of the only robotic companies in Quebec. Other companies work with robotics, but they specialize in industrial robots, it’s more a machine than it is a robot. These machines are made for performance and repetitive task. It is an interesting product but there is no vision or values behind these machines. The magic of Kinova is that, yes, it’s a robot, but it might not be, it’s foremost a product meant to help the world using robotics. So Kinova combines the passion of the little boy in me (robotics) and the adult who wants to help others.”
5- What do you like about your work?
“I like my colleagues, the atmosphere and how we are treated on a daily basis. We have a certain degree of freedom, we work hard while having fun, which is nevertheless cool. The product we use is great. I play with JACO all day so, I’m a lucky guy, right?”
6- What is your job exactly?
“My job is to use the product to the maximum of its capacity to find all its small problems. Clearly, my job is to crash the robotic arm! (laughs). Jokes apart, it’s more complicated than that, but when I explain my work in a sentence to people who do not know robotics, that’s what I say (laughs).”
7- What do you think the future of Kinova holds?
“We will dominate the world through robotics but in a positive and altruistic way. I hope we get there but it won’t be without its challenges. In the meantime, we’re growing fast. Thanks to the diversification of products, there is always a lot of work, always in robotics, so it’s inspiring for the future.”
8- What would you say to someone who would like to work at Kinova?
“It’s a bit cliché, but the first quality we’re looking for is passion. A passion for our vision. We must work hard, it is sometimes difficult, but it is a very innovative rewarding sector where we must always push our limits forward. Sometimes you will be asked to do things you don’t like, and to get things done, you’ll need this passion for robotics.”
9- What are the advantages of working for Kinova?
“Someone who wants to realize his childhood dream of playing with robots will fulfill their dreams here. However, they must know that it is difficult, that it is filled with challenges but together we can overcome these challenges and it’s a thrill to meet those challenges. You are always evolving because it is a new field.”
10- Finally, tell us more about you, outside of work. Where do you come from? Do you have hobbies?
“I’m from the North Shore, I grew up in Lorraine but currently live in Montreal. One of my hobbies is robotics … I mean, I make robots at home just for fun. I have my own robotics projects. I also play ultimate frisbee.”