After obtaining a PhD in psychology, Tom Putzeys changed track and embarked on a journey within software engineering. He landed in Atlas Copco and is now focused on delivering smart control solutions for compressors.
“During my psychology studies I focused a lot on how the brain works and how information is processed. I used many engineering tools and models, that’s why I later decided to go for a job in engineering,” Tom says. He continued his engineering track with a university degree in software engineering and thereafter joined a consultancy firm. “This firm had a talent program where you could work for one of the participating companies for one year. After that you could, together with the company, decide whether to continue or not. This is how I landed in Atlas Copco,” he says and explains that he met his current manager via this program.
Tom knew early on that he wanted to be part of the company for a longer time. “The very first day I knew that I wanted to contribute to something bigger. I didn’t like the mindset of leaving after one year. I wanted to be part of writing the longer story”, he says.
“In the beginning it wasn't all clear what I was going to do, but I quickly understood that the way of working was a good fit. There were also a bunch of interesting projects starting-up,” he says. Already a few months in, it was decided that he could make the official transition and join the company.
Fast-forward to today, Tom’s current role as Software Engineer Team Leader in Atlas Copco’s Airtec division is all about innovation. Airtec designs, develops and manufactures a wide range of compressor elements and core parts used in the compressors being built. Tom’s job revolves around the design of the next-generation smart compressor controllers. “In R&D we try to innovate as much as possible and we get a lot of freedom to explore different technologies,” he says and as an example he highlights the controllers’ role inside a compressor. “Controllers are intelligent computers that drive compressors, they tell them to start and stop at the right time. My team builds the low-level software which enables the controllers to talk to the hardware,” he says and explains that the team is responsible for a broad range of hardware, compressors, and controllers.
With the advent of the Internet of Things, many opportunities exist regarding remote monitoring and control of compressors. “We need to develop new solutions that don’t exist in the compressor world yet. This means we need to draw inspiration from other sectors to see what’s working there, and how it’s done. It’s important to see the bigger picture and to steer the team in a good direction,” Tom says and explains that he likes the combination of looking for new technologies, doing proof of concepts and seeing technologies come to life with the efforts of his team and other people involved.
His best advice to someone who is new in the company is to be ambitious and explore new things. “Try to go outside of your comfort zone, connect with as many people as possible to broaden your vision. One big advantage in Atlas Copco is that we can try many new things, it’s really a playground of innovation,” he concludes.