UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Science


Learning to make a Magic 8 Ball

Rohan Sekhri reflects on a successful work experience placement and how it has influenced his A-level choices and future aspirations.

Rohans project

1 August 2019

During my summer holidays, I was fortunate to spend a fantastic week at UCL's Aspire CREATE labs at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. I was able to talk and learn from all of the PhD and master's students about their projects.

Highlights include observing a neuroscience experiment, seeing an exoskeleton and using a smart wheelchair.

I was also able to work on a project of my own. Having been given an Arduino kit at the start of the week, I had to understand how the system worked to complete a small project. 

An Arduino is a single board microcontroller - simpler than a Raspberry Pi. Having only used Arduino kits once or twice before, I found it challenging at first, but with help from my mentor Tijana I soon began to make sense of the programming language and how to build the circuits.

By the end of the week I was able to build a Magic 8 ball using an LCD screen and a tilt switch. I subsequently used an Arduino kit to build an autonomous car that is able to detect obstacles and avoid them!

Persuaded me to take science A levels

The week in the labs was incredibly useful for me, as it helped me confirm my A-level choices and it also gave me a taste of what research is like.

As a result of my work experience, I am now studying Chemistry, Biology, Maths A-level and Further Maths AS at Stowe School and I have developed a keen interest in neuroscience and biochemistry.

I hope to study Natural Sciences at university and perhaps pursue a career in research.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Aspire CREATe team and would like to thank everybody there for their warm welcome and hospitality. It was a fantastic experience, and I would highly recommend it to anybody remotely interested in science. 

I was always interested in science. However, seeing the incredible application and use of scientific principles in everyday life persuaded me into taking science A-levels, a decision I have not regretted.