Dr Darren Walker - personal details
I began life growing up in a rural town somewhere in East Yorkshire; think Royston Vasey without the humour but with lots of pig farms. That’s where I gained my GCSEs and A-levels and why I went to university in Manchester.
Having gained a physics degree from UMIST in 2002 (anyone remember that far back) I went on to do a PhD in semiconductor physics at the University of Nottingham. My thesis was on the electronic and optical properties of some novel semiconductor devices; self-assembled quantum dots mostly with a smattering of mesoscopic devices thrown in for good measure. After passing my viva (a really quite relaxing and non-bowel emptying experience) in 2006 I found gainful employment at in the R&D department at a company in Southampton creating novel, solid-state, infrared detectors for commercial and military applications. I had a good two years there but life moves on.
I moved back to Manchester in late 2008 for personal reasons and, having decided that two degrees wasn’t enough, I completed a masters in mathematics and computational science at the university. After finishing that degree I was at a bit of a loss as what to do so gave teaching a go (yes that would be a fourth degree). Less said about that the better.
2012 and I find a job at technology firm located in Manchester that mostly make bank note validators for gaming and casino machines. However, I was not involved with that part of the business tasked instead with desiging an original facial recognition system. It took me two years, virtually by myself, to come up with a device that could perform the task to almost the standard required. A spin-out company was formed comprising just myself and two others and we set about building a prototype. However, once the prototype was built I found myself at a loose end and became the company’s glorified web developer. With no further R&D on the horizon I decided that I move on and found that Jodrell Bank were looking for software developers for telescope control. I jumped at the opportunity.
Here I am, sat within 100m of the Lovell Telescope, deciphering code written by various people over past three decades, attempting to implement updates, upgrades, and new features. Not bad for a boy from rural East Yorkshire where pigs are more numerous than people.