From Student to Software Developer


Mies hymyilee kameralle ja nojaa isoon robottikoiraan vierellään. Käsissään hän pitelee robottikoiran ohjainta.

Software developer Aki Panuma’s career at Probot started with project periods during his studies. The final project periods in the English-language program in Information Technology Engineering at Oulu University of Applied Sciences, led to summer job and eventually a permanent position.

Aki started his career at Probot through school project periods. Now his studies at Oulu University of Applied Sciences are almost finished, and Aki works as a full-time software developer.

The three-and-a-half-year studies in Information Technology Engineering attracted Aki through his hobbies. Most of Aki’s free time is spent working on cars, for example building and optimising engines. Other hobbies include 3D modelling and printing, gym, cooking and fishing.

– It all started with my hobbies and the idea that skills from my hobbies could easily be expanded and utilized in working life. My hobbies have focused more on the mechanical side of the field, which is why I wanted to study more on the software side. I thought it would be beneficial for myself, my hobbies, and also for future employer, Aki explains.

Specialized in Full Stack application development, Aki will graduate early this year. His title upon graduation will be Full Stack Web Developer, commonly known as a coder or software engineer.

During his studies, Aki has covered various topics such as software and application development, software process management, cloud service technologies, IoT solutions, data analysis, testing, and product development. His greatest interest lies in web development.

– I am most fascinated by visual aspects, both frontend and backend development. It’s rewarding to see tangible results in what you do. For example, visual design of the user interface and all the coding functions behind it are interesting, he says.

In Aki’s opinion, the best part of his studies has been the informality. However, with his studies overlapping with the COVID-19 pandemic, the social aspect of his studies was nearly absent.

– I have liked how much I’ve been able to take responsibility for my own studies and guide myself forward. However, the traditional student life was missed as student events and gatherings with classmates were minimal due to the pandemic, he notes.

This year, Aki will graduate as a Full Stack Web Developer.

Practical Learning from Project Periods

Last spring, Aki completed all three project periods at Probot as part of his studies. The purpose of project periods is to apply learned theoretical skills in practical work life. Aki heard about Probot through a friend.

– When looking for work placements for project periods, I considered several options where I could combine experience from the mechanical side with software studies and everything around it. Probot turned out to be the perfect package, Aki says.

During the project periods, Aki engaged in both mechanical design and programming tasks.

– I worked on tasks such as user interface design and project management. I got to work on HMI prototyping, control software for robot dogs, mechanical design, ordering, 3D modeling and printing, and machining design. My thesis focuses more on the software side, Aki summarizes.

Aki gained various skills during the project periods.

– I was able to hone old skills from the mechanical side, but I also learned a lot of new things from the software side, such as software architecture and how and what kind of software is used in robotic environments. I also learned about the interaction between the robot and its environment.

What Aki found most impressive when starting at Probot was the work community and its warm welcome on the very first day. The team’s professionalism also made a quick impression.

– The expertise at Probot is at an impressive level! Whether we’re talking about design, software, or marketing, it can be said that experience shines through. It’s essential to have skilled people around, and having a role that leads to upward development is crucial.

– The expertise at Probot is at an impressive level! Whether we’re talking about design, software, or marketing, it can be said that experience shines through. It’s essential to have skilled people around, and having a role that leads to upward development is crucial, Aki rejoices.

The most challenging aspect has been mastering new software complexities.

– When you don’t have a lot of practical experience at such an early stage of your career, there have been a lot of new things to absorb. My educational background is in web development, but robot coding is very hands-on. There is a lot of new technology around robots that needs to be learned quickly to produce an optimal outcome in projects.

Nevertheless, Aki feels he received good support from the Probot team in adapting to new things during the project periods. Additionally, work experience complemented his studies well.

– I have always received help when asked, and I have been able to share challenges with teammates, especially on the software side. It has been entirely different to work with software in practical work life, considering all the different aspects, than running a small piece of software on my own server.

Aki encourages all students on work placements not to hesitate to ask for help when facing challenges.

– During an internship, one should never fall into the role of not being able to ask for help. Regardless of the internship location, there are undoubtedly competent people around who can provide tips for your own challenges. It significantly speeds up finding a solution. Just the fact that someone else looks at the code you’ve written can bring up things that wouldn’t have crossed your mind during the development phase.

During the project periods, Aki has learned about the interaction between the robot and the environment. In the picture, Aki with the mobile robot Dolly™ equipped with Kinova’s arm gripper.

From Trainee to Full-time Employee

When Aki arrived at Probot, he immediately impressed the whole team. The project periods led to summer job and eventually a permanent position.

Last autumn, Aki started a permanent position at Probot as a software developer. His specialties include mobile robots, programming, and software development. Aki highlights the informality and the opportunity to influence his own work as the best aspects of working at Probot.

– I have been able to influence my role, tasks, and implementation methods a lot. There hasn’t been any strict formula to adhere to, and more efficient solutions could be constantly sought and implemented. And, of course, the delicious office coffee is always a bonus, Aki laughs.

Aki’s studies are almost complete, with only the final touches needed for his thesis. The topic for his thesis naturally emerged from his work, focusing on the development of a mobile robot user interface using the Three.js library.

Lots of Opportunities in the Field of Robotics

The field of robotics is evolving and becoming more widespread continuously. Even if robotics is not familiar, one can start to see its development, for example, in the cityscape.

– The future of robotics is on a continuous development path, progressing towards improvement. Robotics will become significantly more prevalent in the coming decades. This is evident, for instance, in those little bugs that carry grocery bags. Now, they have arrived here in Oulu too, Aki reflects.

Aki encourages everyone interested in the field to explore various educational and career opportunities.

– The key is to continually develop one’s skills as new things and technologies emerge, Aki summarizes.

– There are various job roles in this field, and as the field advances, new possibilities will undoubtedly emerge. By experimenting and learning, one can discover tasks and topics that they find most interesting. The key is to continually develop one’s skills as new things and technologies emerge.

With a positive attitude, curiosity, and ongoing skill development, one can find their place in the future workplace.

Read more career stories on our blog:

Probot Oy – Specialist in Robotics.

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