08 November 2018

Companies that participate in the Vinnova-funded Link-Sic competence centre can obtain help from students during the summer. Sara Nilsson and Julius Kokko Ekholm tested navigation sensors for unmanned helicopters.

Magnus Johansson
“I’m sure it looked really odd as we travelled around with a wooden helicopter full of sensors on a trailer”, laughs Sara Nilsson.

Trämodell av Skeldar för testWooden model for test Photo credit Julius Kokko EkholmFor six weeks in the summer, she worked together with Julius Kokko Ekholm at UMS Skeldar, a company that markets and develops unmanned helicopters. UMS Skeldar is one of the companies involved in Link-Sic, the Linköping Center for Sensor Informatics and Control, a Vinnova-funded competence centre at LiU.

“We needed to replace the GPS receivers in the helicopters and wanted to test the different types of sensor thoroughly – how well they work, and what conditions give rise to problems”, says Ola Härkegård, system development manager at UMS Skeldar.

Navigation sensors

Information about summer jobs from several companies involved in Link-Sic was distributed through several channels to students in the fourth year of their programme. Both Sara Nilsson and Julius Kokko Ekholm are now in their fifth year of their master’s programmes in engineering, Sara is studying applied physics and electrical engineering with an international specialisation, and Julius mechanical engineering.

The summer job that caught their eye involved designing, planning and executing tests for different types of navigation sensor. And this is exactly what they did, where one of the experiments involved placing the sensors in a model of the helicopter and travelling around with it on a trailer. The signals from the sensors were measured and recorded.

“We reviewed the results every day. When testing like this, you decide from one day to the next how the testing is to proceed. That’s because it depends on the results you’ve already obtained. It’s like winding in a string to see what’s attached to the end”, says Ola Härkegård.

But there was much more to the job than just travelling around and measuring.
“What made it so interesting was the need to combine the practical aspects with thinking deeply about the technology”, says Sara Nilsson.

“We had to absorb new knowledge about the products that we sought out ourselves. We learnt a lot from this”, says Julius Kokko Ekholm.

Real application

And both are really pleased that the work they did during the six weeks of summer will find real application.
“It was a great feeling to be able to present them with a report – ‘Here you are, this is what we have done’,” says Sara Nilsson.

Ola Härkegård is more than satisfied with the results of the work the students put in, and is happy that Link-Sic means that the company can obtain help from students in clearly defined projects.
“This is the type of test we would like to do more often, but seldom have time for. The students contributed to developing our products, and the company felt the presence of two bright and lively students. They made themselves truly at home here”, he says.

Julius Kokko Ekholm and Sara Nilsson are also satisfied with their summer.
“I’ve worked at large companies previously, and then you spend most of the time talking to people doing the same as you. Here we got to see more of how a company works on an overall level”, says Sara Nilsson.

Julius Kokko Ekholm is also happy with the experience.
“It was interesting to gain insight into a company and get some background info about which type of engineering jobs are available. And the way they looked after us was great – not only at the company but also at the Division for Automatic Control.”

The next step for both of them is to find an exciting degree project to complete their master’s degree. Julius Kokko Ekholm wants to work with sustainability within electronics, and is looking for something in this field.

Sara Nilsson has been inspired by the summer.
“Navigation is an exciting field and I want to continue with something in automatic control.”


Linköping Center for Sensor Informatics and Control
A Vinnova-funded competence centre for industrially focussed research in sensor informatics and automatic control. Other companies in Link-Sic that have had students working during the summer include Alelion, Senion and Actia Nordic.

UMS Skeldar

Has approximately 40 employees in Linköping and 25 at the head offices in Switzerland. The company is a spin-off from Saab, and was founded in 2015.

Translation George Farrants

Competence centre

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