Drones, robots, and aerospace engineering
Yomna Youssef, MSc alumna, Engineering Systems
Superstar Aerospace engineer and robotics expert Yomna Youssef had quite an experience at Skoltech. Originally from Cairo, Egypt, Yomna chose to pursue a field uncommon in her home country and found a passion she's following to this day. Read her story to learn how she came to Skoltech and what she's up to now.
about me
I am a Skoltech graduate from Cairo, the vibrant capital of Egypt.

Before Skoltech, I studied Aerospace Engineering from Zewail City University. I chose my bachelor's program driven by my passion for flight and aerospace design, which I've been fascinated with from a very young age. I think watching documentaries and cartoons about it helped :)

When I entered university and began to take courses, I delved deeper into the realms of engineering and discovered a new fascination for robotics and autonomous vehicles. These machines that can operate independently and perform complex tasks with precision captivated me. That's how I shifted my area of focus towards the intersection of robotics and aerospace engineering, as they both can be traced back to fundamental principles rooted in mathematics and physics.

It is worth mentioning that, in Egypt, both Aerospace Engineering and Robotics are not widely recognized or popular career paths. I have remained steadfast in my chosen field of study because I wholeheartedly believe in pursuing what I love and being driven by passion and something that helps me feel fulfilled as a person and a professional.
on the way to Skoltech
I learned about Skoltech through my colleagues who had previously studied at Zewail City University. They did not only speak of the academic rigor and opportunities for research and innovation at Skoltech but also emphasized the enriching experience of living in Moscow and interacting with people from a diverse and culturally rich background. Their positive feedback about their experiences at Skoltech, both academically and culturally, intrigued me into exploring the university further.

I decided to join the Engineering Systems Master of Science program at Skoltech because it perfectly aligned with my interests and aspirations, particularly in the field of Robotics and AI. The program offered a diverse range of courses that fit my area of interest, including the Robotics course, Experimental Data Processing and Perception in Robotics. The courses' content was not only comprehensive but also reflected the latest research and advancements in the field.

Master's in Engineering Systems
The program focuses on enhancing students' critical skills, understanding and mastery to lead and shape up the digital transformation of industries and the development of cyber-physical systems, aerospace, and high technology industrial products in all fields on Earth and in Space. The program's main objective is to educate students with the competencies and digital know-how that will enable them to support and play leading roles in the real-life implementation of digital engineering, robotics, space technologies, and science. We teach students to find creative and sustainable solutions to the critical challenges in a wide range of industries, including but not limited to aerospace, energy, and robotics.

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Intelligent Space Robotics Lab
One of the major factors that influenced my decision was the Intelligent Space Robotics Laboratory. I explored both ongoing and past projects conducted in the lab, and I was amazed by the level of innovation and ingenuity in each project. I wanted to be a part of a group where excellence and commitment to success (supported by state-of-the-art tools and the latest tech, of course) were the key focus.

One of the projects I worked on was called "SwarmHand," which involved utilizing Crazyflie drones in an online format. Throughout this project, I gained a deep understanding of the Crazyflie architecture and its operational ecosystem. I successfully demonstrated a 3D RRT* path planning algorithm for a swarm of drones, showcasing the practical application of my knowledge and skills. The project allowed me to engage in hands-on experimentation and problem-solving, adding to the excitement and enjoyment of the work.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to work on the "Non-holonomic two-wheeled robot" as part of my master's thesis. In this role, I was responsible for SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) and Path planning on an uneven terrain, utilizing 3D-vision-based measurements from Intel Realsense cameras. This project not only challenged me intellectually but also allowed me to contribute to cutting-edge research in the field of robotics. The opportunity to work on such innovative projects further enhanced my overall experience in the lab.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time working in the Intelligent Space Robotics Lab at Skoltech. It was a rewarding experience where I had a chance to be involved in beneficial projects and had a lot of fun. The lab environment felt like a game, which is something I believe makes a job truly enjoyable.

Beyond the projects themselves, I also greatly appreciated the Skoltech community and the diverse group of intelligent individuals with different backgrounds. The collaborative environment provided an enriching experience where I could engage with fellow researchers, exchange ideas, and contribute to the testing of their applications when needed. This sense of community and the opportunity to work alongside talented and knowledgeable peers added another layer of enjoyment to my time in the lab.
career after Skoltech

I am currently employed as a validation engineer at Valeo, where I am an integral part of the LSMS (Low-Speed Maneuvering Systems) team. Our team's primary focus is on developing autonomous operation capabilities for vehicles in low-speed environments, including garages and house entryways. Our responsibilities encompass a range of tasks, such as implementing warning systems, parking assistance features, and exploration functionalities.

Within the team, I specifically work on a P1 project in the validation department. This project involves developing the system from scratch, tailored precisely to our client's requirements. We follow an iterative approach, continuously releasing software that has been agreed upon with the client. This approach allows us to see the results of our hard work, incorporate their feedback and ensure that the software aligns with their expectations.

Overall, the combination of being involved in the project from its early stages, working in a fast-paced environment, and having highly skilled team members has made the experience very enjoyable and rewarding.
my advice to future scientists
While I acknowledge that Skoltech students have received comprehensive advice from highly qualified faculty members, this insight has been transformative for me personally.

In our fast-paced world, there is often immense pressure to achieve rapid success and specialize in a particular field as early as possible. However, I have learned that this mindset may not always be conducive to personal and professional growth.

That's why I encourage students to embrace a more gradual approach, take your time and explore diverse projects until you discover your true passion. Engaging in various endeavors is never a waste of time; rather, it provides invaluable insights and helps you identify what brings you true fulfillment.
and now about Skoltech
We are Skoltech – a new international English-speaking STEM university that was founded by the group of world-renowned scientists in 2011 in Moscow, Russia. In just 8 years, we united dozens of researchers and globally renowned professors, built a stunning campus, set up world-class labs and made it to the top 100 young universities in the Nature Index. Read more >>
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