BIO

ABOUT ME

I am an electronic engineer, with an MSc in Artificial System Science and a PhD from the Medical System Engineering Department of Chiba University, Japan. I am specialised in Human-Machine Interfaces, Robotics and Neuro-rehabilitation devices. I have extensive experience in designing and developing robotic systems, embedded electronics and control algorithms.

I have been involved in several research and industrial projects, across many countries, which allowed me to become knowledgeable in many other fields and working habits. This is the reason why I can easily integrate into new projects and working groups to get things done fast.

Over the years I have acquired a broad range of skills, such as: research project management, experiment design, analog and digital system design and development, digital signal processing, machine learning, C and assembler for embedded systems, C++, Matlab, Python, C#, and PCB design

Since 2013, I am working as a researcher at the Neural Rehabilitation group of Cajal Institute, CSIC, in Madrid, Spain. I am currently leading the ARMS lab and participate in several European and National research projects. 

 

Early years

My first contact with a computer happened when I was seven years old. My father brought an 80286 based computer to our home, and it was amazing to us at that time. I started to play with LogoWriter, and after a while, I did my first program/animation with a cousin of mine. The program was a short animation of a guy (a stick guy) walking down the street and a car hitting him. After our protagonist was laying down on the floor, an ambulance came and picked him up. Of course, it wasn't amazing drawings, and the motions were only in 1D, but I had a blast doing it! We did several other animations until I got a copy of Prince of Persia and California Games, and well no more programming for a while.

After, when I became 13 years old I was able to build a cloned computer (at that time with had an 80480 DX) and I got interested in electronics and robotics. So, I bought a bunch of books from RadioShack to learn about circuits (Forrest M. Mims' Engineer's Mini-NoteBooks) and my first book about robots (Robot Builder's Bonanza). I was passionate about robots and so used some Lego Technic blocks to build my very first robot when I was 14 years old, along with two cousins. It was a 4-legged robot that could go forward or backwards (see the picture, yes that was me :S). Funny thing is we called it I-Robot, and at that time, there weren't any i-products (We should have patented the name :P). My dad gave me a Lego MindStorm Kit, so I did many more robots, one of them was a "billiard" robot that was roaming on a Billiard table until it "found" the white ball and then went to put it in a specific hole.

University years

I got my degree in Electronic Engineering from the best university in Costa Rica for Engineering: Technology Institute of Costa Rica. One of the strong points of this university is that hands-on laboratories are an essential part of the curriculum. Therefore, I got the chance to not only study the theory but also put it into practice. We build all kinds of analogue, digital, control and power electronic systems and were able to get a sense of how to make the connection between practice and theory.

During this time I participated in several extracurricular activities related to systems integration. One of these activities was working on a project that required from us to combine the areas of product design, electronics, and computer science to make a product. This project was a collaboration with the MIT, and we got to develop several ideas, from robot toys to intelligent monitoring systems for climate control greenhouses

Also, I participated in a Venture Business Contest with a device that another friend and I designed and developed. This device was aimed to control the talking time on a wall phone, depending on user settings (similarly to a phone central, but cheap and more focused to enable parents to monitor their kid's phone time). We got second place in the contest in Costa Rica and third place in an international contest in El Salvador. In the end, we were not able to solve one small technical problem that was a backbone of our business plan: to make the device plug and play so people could just go to the store, buy it and install it by themselves, so we were not able to produce it. However, not long after, the phone technology improved and mobile phones became popular, so the device lost its importance. Furthermore, I did some freelance jobs that were focused on hardware develop for several companies.

In 2006, I got the Monbukagakusho Scholarship (MEXT) from Japan, which allowed me to go to Japan and get my MSc and my PhD degree. For the last two years of my PhD. I was awarded the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science's (JSPS) Young Researcher Fellowship. During this time I got the chance to work on several projects related to medical engineering robotics. The primary focus of my work was on closed-loop control of upper limb prosthesis. I also, develop a Portable Functional Electrical Stimulation device to help hemiplegic patients to improve their gait. I develop the first control, navigation and tracking algorithms and embedded systems for a Mobile Bio-monitoring robot. This robot won the third place of the EvAAL contest in 2012. I also participated in other projects related to robot autonomous control, neuro-robotics, RGB-D processing, activity recognition, biomechanics, ultrasound imagining segmentation, human muscle simulation.

Working

Before going to graduate school, I worked for almost two years as an Automation Engineer. I was in charge of developing the Allan Bradley PLC programs (and two times migrating from a Siemens PLC) and was in charge of the start-up of different automatic processes for various industries. I got to work in the milk processing plants (Nestle Panama, Nestle Nicaragua), in the Palm oil processing plants (Pabo Panama, Qivel Costa Rica, Nicaragua), in the Electric Appliances industry (Atlas, Costa Rica; now Mabe Costa Rica.), and the Tobacco Industry (Tabacalera Hondureña, Honduras). It was a very demanding and stressful job, but I learned a lot of practical things, met a lot of interesting people, and I got to travel a lot around Central America.

Since 2013, I am working as a researcher at the Neural Rehabilitation group of Cajal Institute, CSIC, in Madrid, Spain. I am currently leading the ARMS lab and participate in several research projects. I have taken part in several European and National projects regarding Wearable Robots and Neuro-robotics. I coordinated the team working in the electronic architecture and the control for a humanoid robot (H2R project) and a compliant exoskeleton (BIOMOT project). During this time I have had the chance to work with many international (European and Japanese) research institutions and collaborate with them on several projects. I am also actively participating in project proposal writing while doing research on human-human and human-robot coordination.