Here Comes The Sun

Hello friends!

I’m Ursula and today making my debut post as ITQSummerIntern18 v3.0. Daydreamer, Froyo lover and Reggaeton enthusiast, I’m a soon-to-be-third-year Engineering Student on loan for four and a half short weeks from the University of Cambridge, UK. During my time at ITQ I’ll be subbing left from Robbie as Chief Visionary of the Farmbot project (but more on that later).

Two weeks into my stay it’s remarkable how much Gran Canaria has a way of feeling like home. From beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes and perfect (not to be understated) weather to lively streets teeming with bars, restaurants and shops, Las Palmas offers loads of opportunity to do as much, or as little, as you like.

While here on my internship with ITQ I’m staying at the Asociación Atlas Gran Canaria, an out-of-this-world hostel and meeting place for wanderers, artists and social entrepreneurs both from the local community and abroad. The people here are so incredibly friendly it hurts, from as many far-away lands as Egypt, Germany, Brazil and Turkestan (and yes, Spain) to gather in this little corner of paradise. Located in La Isleta at the northern end of Las Palmas, the hostel is just 6 minutes walk from La Playa de Las Canteras and La Playa El Confital. Yes that’s right, 6 minutes.

To tell the truth, I’m a bit of a homebody, so this is perfect for me. I love being able to go to the beach of an evening, swim, relax and wind down; watching the sun set over the ocean is such a yummy way reconnect with myself after a busy day at work, I’m hooked! What’s more, Las Canteras is home to some insane sand sculptures (and also ice cream shops) – as a lover of art, ice cream and beaches, it really doesn’t get much better than this.

            

To make my life even easier Atlas regularly hosts events for the local community – everything from yoga classes and origami workshops to presentations on Africa’s emerging sustainable textiles industry, film screenings and live music – the majority of which are free and open to all. Between this social goldmine and late night adventures to Pachichis (our favourite tapas bar) and beyond, my first two weeks in Las Palmas have been filled to the brim with sweet vibes and sweeter people.

I’ll be back in two weeks to tell you all about the killerrrrrr position I’ve landed as an intern at ITQ (there’s a robot yo). But until then I’m hoping for more sunshine, so I can keep working on my hot tan before I go back to rainy England.

Later kids!

Farmbot Update and the end of my Internship

Today was my last day at work and it was very sad to leave. The team is smaller than when I started so I have had more freedom to develop my project but there are also fewer people to play table football with at lunch!

As promised, I will talk a bit about the projects I have been working on in this post. These 6 weeks have flown by, probably because work has been fun (almost) every day. I have been developing the Farmbot project. A Farmbot is a robot which you can either make yourself or buy as a kit online which will plant, look after and monitor a bed such as a vegetable patch. My goal was to make a website on which you could manage and control multiple Farmbots in one place. The alternative is to use the official website which would require the user to remember lots of login details and this is also time consuming. I also had no knowledge of web design, ever!

I was told to start learning Django which is a framework in Python. It was very difficult and took me weeks to understand. Parallel to this, the company already has a Farmbot working in the south of the island on which I conducted testing on this the early stages of my project where my goal was to simply send and receive simple instructions and data to the robot. As the project developed, I was able to style the website (with some help), make the website intuitive and extend the control to multiple hypothetical Farmbots. I also started to add another page on which the user could make and edit sequences of commands which the Farmbot could execute one after the other.

In my fourth week, I had a lot of fun – I was allowed to leave my desk and start planning and making a new Farmbot from a kit. The kit was amazing, it fitted together so well it felt like an Engineer’s adult Lego set (picture below). This took a few days to build before I downloaded the software onto it and could see it come to life! The most rewarding moment for me was to see my robot respond to commands sent from the website I created. The next week, the website was published onto the internet so my friends could test it and watch the webcam with me working in the background online.

 

The website can be found by following this link (http://mygardenbot.stetter-itq.com) and an account is free to make, however most features can not be seen unless you own your own Farmbot. The website is in late development so forgive any remaining bugs! I attach some screenshots of the full website below.

It makes me very sad to leave because I have had a really great time working with the team. Even when my computer couldn’t run a few python scripts written in Linux making me hit my head on the table for 3 days was memorable, because the people around me were offering their help and advice. I’ll miss the tapas, the Tropical de Limon and the beaches too. Below is a picture of the team on my last day, they made it difficult to leave

My flight will leave tomorrow morning and I am quite excited to return to a country which is mostly cloudy but I’m also sad saying my farewells to the team and my friends. I hope I can catch up with the people I have met here one day and I urge them to come visit sunny Cambridge.

Thanks for everything – I hope I can catch up soon,

Robbie

Details about my project – It’s Sad to Leave

Hey, this is Martí again. During my last days in Gran Canaria I went to the south to discover a beach with dunes, in Maspalomas. The landscape was amazing! 

I visited Playa del Inglés, swam in the sea, sunbathed, and then walked for a while with my host family until we arrived in front of the dunes. They were so tall that it felt like I was in the Sahara. I still cannot believe what I saw.

But, I worked a bit too 😉 So now it’s time to talk about my job here. For my entire internship, I have been working on the Home Automation project. The main goal of it, as the name says, is to automate a house, which means to have full control of each appliance: interpreting data collected from temperature sensors, humidity sensors, presence sensors, luminosity sensors… and respond accordingly (opening or closing shutters, fans, lights…), as well as having an interface (probably a mobile app) to control it manually.

This project was linked with another one about the Face Recognition project, in which the main goal was to recognise people with a camera and show them personalised messages, tasks or other information. This was a project to implement in Hotels, and with the Home Automation project, we were also able to display the data from the sensors and control the actuators.

As I expected when I applied for this position, I’ve learned so much – mostly a lot of new programming languages. I have had to work with Java language for the Face Recognition program, and with C# to develop an application to connect both KNX devices (sensors) to the Face Recognition program. This was my first application, and I enjoyed this project a lot. I always loved programming and doing so confirmed it to me and I will definitely be able to use these skills in the future.

Now my internship has finished, but I have no doubt I will continue developing GUI applications (graphical user interface), as well as I will apply the knowledge and skills I have learnt to my Mechatronics degree and it will make my degree easier.

See you soon Gran Canaria, or “a reveure” in Catalan,

 

  

Martí.

‘Grand’ Canaria – Through a tourist’s eye

Hi, my name is Robbie and I’m from Cambridge in the UK. I am on an internship with the company for 6 weeks this summer working on several smart farming projects which I will go into more detail in my next post. I am studying engineering, and this is a great excuse to visit Gran Canaria!

I’m now halfway and I realise now I think I’ve landed the best internship ever! The work environment is very fun and there are lots of amazing minds to solve problems in new ways. It is nice to see the fast progress of projects as pioneering prototypes are developed.

I am living two streets away from Las Canterras beach in a traveller’s co-living space in Las Palmas. This means I get to meet a lot of similar people who are also struggling with the language, and have jobs doing similar things! This makes it very easy to relax when I return from work. Every Wednesday and Friday I will play beach volleyball or football at Arracavenas where everyone loves to meet new people.

 

 

So far, I have cycled to Tejeda with a co-worker (which I don’t recommend for a day trip, however the return journey was very fun – we had an average speed of 40kph) the trip took 10 hour in total, and papas arrugas fuelled us up the mountain. Below is a picture of Eric and I as we are nearly at the top of the mountain looking very tired!

 

As you can see, it was so rewarding- the views seemed to make every drop of energy worth it as we were able to see our houses in the distance, somewhere below the clouds. We stopped at the top for a very traditional Pan y Alioli tapas (bread with garlic butter) and a well-deserved beer.

We have also hiked along the north coast to Galdar, been surfing and experienced the old area of the city several times in the evenings.

I have been surfing on the beach but I haven’t been able to stand up on it yet – I blame the board, I think it’s too small for someone my height! I will keep trying though.

Other highlights include nights out in Veguetta. On Thursday nights, almost every young person in Las Palmas will travel to the old area of the city where a lot of bars will be open until 1am to serve mojitos and tapas (the mojitos are stronger and cheaper than what I am used to – beware). Some nights out in Veguetta have been very entertaining, however I think I should visit one time during the day to really appreciate it!

If the second three weeks of this placement are half as exciting and educational as the first, I will have learnt so much more that I’d have expected, whilst also feeling half like a holiday – I hope I can return in the future!

 

I’ll be back to write another post in three weeks to talk in more detail about the projects I’ve been working on here.

 

A Catalan in the Canary Islands

Hi guys,

This is Martí. As Úrsula explained few posts before, I’m from Catalonia and I’m doing my Mechatronics Engineering Internship here in ITQ – well, just finishing. I’ve been working since 20th of June and I’ll end in two weeks, at 8th of August. I’m so sad about that, the time has flown by…

In my opinion, and as I supposed it would be when I decided to apply for this position, I’ve learned a lot (mostly a lot of new programming languages). That’s why I did it. But, of course, the weather and the place helped too.

However, during my stay here I’ve discovered that it’s not true what is said about the weather in the main land Spain. I hoped for it to be 30 degrees all day, and that’s why I only brought summer clothes, but that was so far from reality. The first two weeks I spent here, I was very cold. Here? In Gran Canaria? Unbelievable. I thought about buying some thicker jeans, but fortunately the weather got better.

In my free time, only at the weekends 😊, I have visited some parts of the island. I visited Triana and Vegueta during the first few days. I found a library that has a really nice sentence in a board:

“It’s worth the pain if a tear, a sigh, a laugh or the breath is stolen from you… If the thief is a book.”

Going home with the Guagua (this is what they call the bus), I take this picture because the landscape amazed me. It is so different from where I come:

Then I visited Teror, a small village in the middle of the island, and last week I visited a place my co-workers recommended to me, la Caldera de Bandama:

Unfortunately, I won’t have enough time to see everything I wanted from the island. So probably I would come again someday. Hopefully, to keep working here :P.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the project I’m working at and my experience in the company. But now I don’t have time. I’m going to south to discover a beach with dunes. I can’t wait to see that.

See you soon, or “a reveure” in Catalan,

Martí.

ITQ Summer Event in Ruhpolding

The summer is here :mrgreen: and once a year all ITQ people coming from Germany and Spain pack our bags and go on  holiday together thanks to Dr. Stetter 😎 . We meet in some nice Bavarian spot, this year Ruhpolding, and have lots of fun and a good time after getting the sh*t done, yeeeah!!

Usually people travel by plane or car you know 🙄 , but we have some crazy ones that spent 8 hours riding bikes under rain for getting here, yeeah very ITQ spirit ❗ ❗

The first night was very relaxed, waiting for the rest of the team to arrive, having some drinks and chilling 😀

Next day the summer event started with short presentations about current and upcoming projects, so everybody could have an overview about what is happening in the company and get to know what is planned for next months 💡

Later we had free time for group activities, with games and some team challenges, hiking and sport. You can guess how much fun we had by seeing the pictures 😛 The weather was ideal with plenty of sun, very Gran Canaria style Emoticon Facebook palmera😍

During the evening the mood was awesome and we had so much fun ⭐⭐

It was an amazing weekend 😎 . Thank you to all people that made it possible. It is  awesome to be part of this team ❤❤

 

Working with sea, beach and nightlife?

Hola amigos,

I am Eric from Germany and I am going to write about my Bachelor Thesis here in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. First, I have to say – this island is AWESOME. But if you ask me why, puuuh, that’s a lot to tell.

My first motivation to come here, was to make the experience of working on a holiday island. I wanted to see how is it possible that a German company like ITQ, is able to earn money at this place. Because I only know from this island the good weather and the sea, and working in the heat around lunchtime? I wasn’t able to imagine.

But the only thing we Germans know about Gran Canaria (GC) is Maspalomas. Maspalomas is in the south of GC, that means that there is always sunny and minimum 26 degrees. Covered from the clouds by the mountains is there always the perfect holiday weather – but for working? Imagine 32 degrees outside, always perfect weather and you have to work on some software stuff – mostly inside? Not so nice. But if you look to the north of the island there you will find all this “covered” clouds and so it is most of the day cloudy and around 23 degrees or more (depends on the wind and clouds).

And by the way, the mountains aren’t good only for cover Maspalomas from clouds. I have to recommend to you that hiking tours to Roque Nublo and Pico de las Nives (the highest one) are very nice too as you can see on the picture of the title.

Okay, now enough from weather. My second motivation to come here was the sea. I learned windsurfing in Germany on the “nordfriesischen” islands and so it was amazing to come here to the island with the world cup beach for windsurfing. For sure I visited this beach (called Pozo Izquierdo) and was there for rent some material and to watch the other surfers. On an usual day there are always some professionals who train some new moves or only go there to have fun. Guys, this is unbelievable. This is like, if you like football and you could meet C. Ronaldo on his training field for free. Amazing.

Before I forget: yes it is true, it is possible to work here on Gran Canaria. I for example, work on a very nice project with Virtual Reality (VR). The goal for this project is to connect the VR hardware with another hardware in the real world. That means for example to control a drone, a robot or every actor with VR.

My task is to connect the VR with the airhockey table from ITQ in Munich. That means that after the project it is possible to play airhockey as a multiplayer game. One player at the real table and one in the virtual reality. The robot on the table is the controlled actor which is the connection of the VR player with the real world.

For me, this is something very special, because I have never tried some VR hardware before and I am “only” an engineer of Mechatronics (combination out of mechanics, electronics and software – mostly used in robotics and automation projects). So everything I did here was more or less new for me. For example, I had to create the virtual world using the Unreal Engine. Unreal Engine is (for the non-game-developers) a software for creating gaming content – something very special for a mechatronic engineer. I also had to program some code in Python for connecting my HMD (Head Mounted Display) to a webserver that I could control with the controllers of the HMD some actuators in the real world.

In the end I can say, it is possible to life here a normal live and it is hard to make every time these decisions, what do I want to do now? Because the island has a lot attractive stuff you could do, and the weather always motivates you, to go out and move somehow.

This was now my post from my biggest experiences in GC. There is a lot more to tell you, but for now I believe it is enough.

If you have a similar project or some questions about this project, I would like to answer your emails 😉

You can use the address below the post.

See ya guys and hasta luego,

Eric.

eric.hinderer@web.de (questions about the project)

hola@stetter-itq.com (general questions, own projects, …)

Our Home Automation project by our new guy!

Today we present Martí Solà! He has come from Vic, Barcelona, to do his internship. He is going to stay with us for two months! We hope this is enough time for him to enjoy and learn more than he already know 😉
He is studying mechatronics, a mixture of mechanics, robotics, electronics and computer science, at the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia.

 

 

If you remember the post of our Face Recognition project, we told you that there was another project which it was related, and that is where Martí is working on! It is called Home Automation and tries, as in the other, to connect the operation of the house with an intelligent system.

 

 

The hardware can detect all the necessary things such as the human presence, temperature an humidity by using detection and luminosity sensors. The programs he is using are ETS5 and Niagara 4 workbench. Now, to connect to the network, he is learning OPC in Java!
All this can be implemented in our Smart Villa when it is finished, isn’t cool?! 😛

Anniversary of FCPCT, part 2

Last week we told you that the Science and Technology Park Foundation where we work is celebrating its tenth anniversary. We were selected from more than 50 other companies to appear in their promotional video. Isn’t it awesome?
In the event where it was presented, there were high officials on the island such as the rector of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the president of the Cabildo, among others. We are glad about it 😉
We are grateful that we’ve been chosen and we are also happy to participate with them.
Enjoy the video! 🙂

Happy 10th Anniversary, FPCT!

Hi guys! Today I come to talk about the Science and Technology Park Foundation where we are located and where we have our offices. 😉

This year is their tenth anniversary and they will be exhibiting a video about the Foundation, the Science and Technology Park at an event today. For them, the activity in the Science and Technology Park only makes sense if it shows the work done by the companies and researchers working here. And that’s why they wanted to count on us to show up at the video I mentioned earlier!

 

This Foundation is the common point that Start-Ups and research centres can have. It has more than 50 companies based on innovation, technology and development. It was launched on June 17, 2008 after having built its headquarters in the University Campus of Tafira, where we work. They also have locations in Telde, Arucas and Gáldar (here in Gran Canaria, for those who don’t know our island). Its main objectives are to promote a culture of innovation, encourage the emergence of networks, increase competitiveness and manage R+D. 🙂

For our part, we are glad with the facilities and all the possibilities and advantages that have been offered to us by being part of the Foundation. Congratulations for this 10 years! We hope that there will be many more and that they will count on us to continue growing.

And I’ll see you guys next week! Have a nice weekend 😛