R&D Engineer graduate profile
Marcel Koller studied Electrical Engineering at the ZHAW School of Engineering. Today, he develops sensors for mobile telephones at Sensirion in Stäfa. Looking for unconventional solutions and developing something that does not yet exist in that particular form is what motivates this self-proclaimed ‘tinkerer’.
For Marcel, the world of electronics is a type of calling. “I am basically a ‘tinkerer’. I love developing something that actually works in the end and can be implemented in the real world. After my electronics apprenticeship, there was nothing else I was interested in studying other than electrical engineering.” The strong practical focus was what convinced him to choose the ZHAW School of Engineering.
“The fact that projects with industry partners can be realised while still studying appealed to me.” One of the industry partners that Marcel became acquainted with during his studies was Sensirion in Stäfa. The sensor specialist went from being a project partner to employer for Marcel. “I couldn’t have planned it better myself,” states the graduate today.
“I am basically a ‘tinkerer’. I love developing something that actually works in the end and can be implemented in the real world. After my electronics apprenticeship, there was nothing else I was interested in studying other than electrical engineering.”
Marcel Koller is involved in the research and development of sensors for mobile telephones at Sensirion. He normally fo-cuses on measuring humidity – but that is not all. “The important thing is what ultimately happens to the measurement value,” Marcel explains. “A humidity value alone does not benefit the device manufacturer in any way. What really matters is what the measurement means precisely, where any threshold values lie and what a device has to do if it exceeds or falls below these values.” Marcel is responsible for the complex interplay between sensor and device. He tackles questions such as how the sensor should be placed in or on the device so that it is well protected while at the same time delivers reliable values, or how heat that a device generates itself influences measurements and therefore must be incorporated into the calculations.
Developments from Sensirion can be found in various mobile telephones – a fact that motivates Marcel Koller. “The mobile communications industry is a driver of innovation. The sector is fast-moving and internationally connected. This also means that those of us involved in development must produce rapid and practical solutions.” Marcel particularly values the opportunity to confront issues and problems on a daily basis that still do not have standard solutions – because the possibility exists that his idea might make it into mass production. He is also in constant contact with clients, develops demonstrators and identifies application possibilities. The Electrical Engineering graduate works in rotating teams that are changed for each new project.
“The fact that projects with industry partners can be realised while still studying appealed to me.”
Specialised skills from his degree programme such as meas-urement technology and algorithms come in very handy in his current job. “However, the methodological skills I gained are almost more important. My work is always focused on recog-nising problems and solving them independently. A practice-oriented, pragmatic approach that results in rapid and reliable solutions is what really counts – and that is what my degree programme definitely gave me.” Marcel re-ceived his Bachelor’s degree from the ZHAW School of En-gineering in 2009 – in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis. However, this did not affect his job search. “I applied for three positions and received three positive answers. I would say that the demand for Electrical Engineering graduates is very high.”
Marcel would recommend the programme to anyone who wants to expand their knowledge after completing an Electron-ics apprenticeship and is not afraid of foundational subjects like mathematics and physics. “My interest in the subject actually grew during the course of my studies,” he says. It is no surprise that after graduating from the Bachelor programme, he decided to pursue a Master’s degree at the ZHAW School of Engineering. In any case, it appears that studying will be a life-long process for him. He explains: “At the moment I am looking for a continuing education course in the field of Project Management. I want to be able to take on responsibility and use my knowledge and skills to ensure that my employer is right up among the leaders.”