Student Zachary Burda wants to develop robots that make people's everyday lives easier

Zachary studies automation and robotics and he has admired Aalto's modern and entrepreneur-friendly outlook since he was in upper secondary school
Opiskelija Zachary Burda Dipolin edessä talvella Otaniemessä.
Zachary Burda at the Otaniemi campus. Image: Olga Morozova.

When Zachary Burda was in upper secondary school, he realised that he wanted to study at Aalto University, and he was determined to make his dream come true. Zachary is interested in entrepreneurship, robotics, and automation, and he appreciates the fact that Aalto enables a wide variety of studies. In his free time, Zachary likes to relax by doing sports, and he is actively involved in the Aalto Alvars basketball team.

Why did you want to apply to Aalto University?

When I was a kid, I saw my father fix an electric toy. For a child, it seemed magical, and since then I have been fascinated by electrical engineering and electronics. I moved to Finland from St. Petersburg in 2016 because I wanted to go to upper secondary school and university in Finland. I had been learning Finnish by myself, and I wanted to learn it properly before university and to see how Finnish society works.  

In upper secondary school, I visited Aalto and was impressed by how modern it is and how beautiful the architecture at Otaniemi is. Aalto's positive attitude towards entrepreneurship was important as well because that’s something I’m interested in. I probably watched all the videos on the Aalto YouTube channel where students tell about their studies. I had Aalto posters on my wall to remind me of my goal, which was to get into Aalto. 

What is everyday student life like?

The guilds organise a lot of fun events and game nights. I also like to do sports, it's my way of relieving stress. The guilds also organise a lot of sports, such as pond hockey and basketball. There are many different associations and sports clubs at Aalto. I’m personally in the Aalto Alvars basketball team. 

My dream is to develop robots that can interact with people and perform everyday tasks.

Zachary Burda

What has been the most interesting course?

I’m interested in robots, so the most interesting courses have been the Electrical Engineering Workshop course (Sähköpaja) and the Proto Workshop course (Protopaja). At the Electrical Engineering Workshop course, our team made a self-loading transport drone. At the Proto Workshop, we made a transport robot that was a small car on wheels that could transport small packages.  

I have also enjoyed courses in industrial engineering and management since I’m interested in entrepreneurship. I appreciate that you can take a really wide variety of courses at Aalto. 

What tools you have gotten from your studies to working life?

Course work has included working on projects related to business and industry, which has improved our teamwork skills and time management enormously. At various events, such as Dash Design Hackathon, students get to solve real challenges posed by companies. 

I have also gained work experience at the university by working as a course assistant at the Electrical Engineering Workshop and at a couple of other courses. Showing other people how something works has helped me learn in a new way. 

I like how the School of Electrical Engineering takes care of us and celebrates our achievements. The school encourages students with scholarships and overall patches – being treated this way makes us motivated to learn and be active. 

How do you see the future of the field?

My dream is to develop robots that can interact with people and perform everyday tasks. They would give people more time and opportunities to do things that are much more interesting. 

The future in this field is really promising, and COVID-19 only accelerated the development of automated processes. For example, the number of parcel lockers has grown very rapidly. 

I'd recommend the field to anyone interested in electronics. It’s a really interesting world – there's always something new to learn more about! 

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Zachary studies automation in a Finnish-taught bachelor's programme, read more about the major here (in Finnish). The School of Electrical Engineering also offers English-taught bachelor's degrees, see our Studies page for more information.  

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