Friendship paved the way for their careers​

​Tomas Forsyth Rosin is a developer at Spotify; Emil Axelsson​has similar duties at Apple. They became inseparable friends while studying Media Technology and Engineering, an MSc programme at LiU, and later completed a six-month project at NASA’s head office in Washington DC.​

Emil Axelsson and Tomas Forsyth Rosin outside an entrance to Linköping University in Norrköping Thor Balkhed

LiU Magazine met Tomas Forsyth Rosin and Emil Axelsson to talk about their time at LiU – about how the two friends have supported each other during their studies and careers.

For me, student life would have been much less fun, and I wouldn’t have done as well, if I hadn’t had Emil”, says Tomas Forsyth Rosin.

Emil Axelsson laughs, and responds:

Tomas says he needed his friends to help him understand our courses, but actually it was he who helped us. I could sit at home, studying all night, trying to figure something out. The following day I’d try to explain to my friends what Istudied, and right away Tomas would ask a super-sharp question.Then the penny would drop!”

Both Tomas and Emil grew up in Linköping and attended the same secondary school. Emil went straight to university, while Thomas firstspenta few years in electronics sales.

My plan was probablyto stay in Linköping, but after I started the masters in media tech in Norrköping, I moved there after just six months”, Tomas says.


Två alumni-studenter, studietiden.Emil 
gives his impressions of the programme:

I doubt I’ve ever lived so much in the now as during that time. The student life, the clubs and all the clever and creative studying was a wonderful bubble. Programming wasn't just a hobby – I understood that about halfway into the programme.”

 

Tomas and Emil met at the outset, and became good friends through their interest in programming. But they are somewhat different types.

Emil is absurdly creative and he always has fun ideas and smart solutions. I'm probably the one who says‘This is good, we have to do this!’. But I could never do it without an intelligent person next to me with a solid grounding in a good idea.

Emil agrees with this, to a degree:

But you can come up with ideas too. You’re better at getting things done. I’m a bit more tentative, I like to consider different solutions. Remember ‘The Castle’?”

They both laugh. The Castle’ was something they madewhen they were student mentors. It was a digital meeting place where new students hung around and met others, arranged meet-ups or asked questions. They walked around in a castle and on the castle walls.

And there were the towers, where only mentors were allowed to enter. We pushed each other to build more and more unnecessary features. Much of The Castle had no purpose, apart from being fun, clever and a bit silly”, explains Emil.

 

Två alumni-studenter, studietiden.The programme gave them several career options. Tomas got a LiU grant to study at Stanford for a year, which led to an internship at Samsung in Silicon Valley.While still in the programme he dreamed of working at Spotify, so he secured an internship there as well – and so did Emil.

Together they applied to do their degree project at OpenSpace, a collaboration that includesLinköping University, NASA and the American Museum of Natural History. Professor Anders Ynnerman is one of the drivers from LiU.

Six months at NASA itself – in the US! I would never have applied if Tomas hadnt said that it was possible”, says Emil.

“And I would never have applied if I hadnt had Emil with me”, counters Tomas at lightning speed.

That’s how the two friendcan carry on. At NASA their work was about visualising space weather, sun storms and the solar wind(plasma that the sun throws out far into space. Thevisualisationwas to be shown at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

“It was an adventure just to meet the museum’s director ofastrovisualisation, the legendary Carter Emmart – who by the way is an honorary doctor at LiU. The plan was to show our visualisation of sun storms’ plasma density on the museum’s giant screen, but we first had to hack the visualisation from Linux to Windows. And that took time”, says Emil.

They were finished in the middle of the night. At that time the museum was basically empty. On the way out they got lost.

Lost in the museum from the film ‘Night at the Museum’ – it was completely surreal. We walked around, totally alone, and realisedOK, now we’re among the mammoths’”, says Tomas.

From a distance we saw someone run past in a corridor, shouting ‘This is where you should go!.We ran after them, and got lost again”, Emil recalls.

 

Två alumni-studenter, studietiden.But career-wise, they don’t seem lostThey love their jobs atApple and SpotifyAfter graduation Thomas first got work at a fintech company in Stockholm. Emil became a research engineer at Visualiseringscenter C in Norrköping, and supervised students in OpenSpace. He still lives in Norrköping with his partner.

Tomas Forsyth Rosin lives in Stockholm with his partner and children. He and Emil meet regularly, often with their families or their old classmates. Emil tells how in 2019 he got a phone call from Apple, who later gave him a job:

The first thing I did was call Tomas!”

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