Tim Drysdale has spearheaded and successfully communicated complex engineering and electronics research in a diverse international career. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Open University’s Department of Engineering and Innovation with special expertise in electromagnetics. He has embraced the potential of public engagement and celebrated academic research in locations as varied and prestigious as Buckingham Palace and the Singapore Science Centre.
Tim was raised in New Zealand and introduced to electronics at an early stage, spending countless hours playing with a programmable calculator aged just eight. A degree in Electronics and Electrical Engineering naturally followed at the country’s University of Canterbury and he built his experience further with a PhD set in the institution’s nanoelectronics laboratory.
His research next took him half way round the world to the University of Glasgow. Starting as a post-doctoral researcher, he progressed through a Royal Society of Edinburgh Personal Research Fellow and onto the faculty as a lecturer in the Electronics Design Centre. On the way he broadened from terahertz technology into optics and radio frequencies. “I started to diversify as all these interesting research opportunities came my way,” he explains. “I could see there were lots of really exciting application areas I could explore.” The enticing range of projects included specialist research modelling radio transmissions emitted from ZigBee collars clipped round cow’s necks. The devices monitored the herd’s health, offering farmers a previously unknown insight into the well being of their stock.
Tim discovered a passion for public engagement as he settled in Glasgow and introduced communities to state-of-the-art engineering through interactive activities such as exploring security scanning with the aid of a mannequin that members of the general public could frisk to try and find various hidden items. His excitement for electronics projects even earned him an invitation to exhibit at Buckingham Palace in 2006, an honour bestowed only on a select few of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibitors.
Tim spent 13 years at the University of Glasgow. In June 2015, he chose to move south of the border and accepted his current post as a Senior Lecturer in Electronics and Engineering for the Open University in Milton Keynes. “What I like most about my profession is that you not only get to indulge in incredibly satisfying work, but you can also use it to change the world,” he says.
His latest research in electromagnetics has particular interest in antennas and propagation, investigating how waves interact with structured materials. “I can help if you’re having a problem trying to get communications to happen in a difficult environment,” he explains.
Tim says he is passionate about making new connections and helping people succeed. “University startups are unique because the people in them have unbridled imaginations,” he says. “They’ve just come through university environments that are teaching them not to take the world as it is – but to change it.”
Tim is offering his expertise as a Future Worlds mentor to help entrepreneurs consider the technical aspects of their schemes. “Startups can benefit from my insight as we look at problems involved in wireless technologies, optics or electromagnetics,” he says. You can get in touch with Tim using the contact form on this page.
“My background is primarily in universities but I’ve also grown up around businesses,” he adds. “I’ve been involved in many aspects to do with commercialisation – in some respects, I’ve got a foot in both camps.”
Tim says he is attracted to taking on interesting and challenging problems. “I enjoy being around people who have ambition,” he says. “Future Worlds is connecting an amazing range of energetic people who have got great ambition. It’s very exciting to think how I can be helping people solve some of the technical aspects of what they’re doing to see them go on to do great things.”