“My story is a story of passion”. With this short and forceful sentence, Oriol opens the interview we have prepared for him. Talking to him for a few minutes, we understand perfectly the meaning of his words.
Apart from the passion for what one does, Oriol Rius also embodies vocation. A vocation that, moreover, begins at a very early age: no more and no less than when he was nine years old. Before reaching the age of ten, he took part in his first computer camp: “For a child from a small town, all that was very impressive. My enthusiasm for technology began that very day,” he explains. As a teenager, Oriol was already able to connect to the Internet using ham radio stations (at a time when nobody knew what Wi-Fi was).
What do you like most about what you do? We asked him.
“You’ve probably watched Toy Story: toys come to life when no one is around. Well, it’s a bit the same: we have many passive physical objects around us, but at the same time, they could provide us with very relevant and useful information… IoT is that: adding a layer of information that adds extra value to things.”
Getting up at 5 am or how to make your passion a modus vivendi
That’s right, Oriol gets up every day at 5 am. A habit that, he says, gives him a strategic advantage over the rest. First thing in the morning, he sets the day’s goals, and until 8 o’clock, he works on personal projects.
Not only that: he confesses that the IoT is present even in the most ordinary situations of his life. And he illustrates this with a very curious example:
“I had a problem because in my town, stray cats were peeing on my house. Well, I created a hidden fence with infrared lights at two heights: one, at a low height, and the other, higher – at the height of a person. When both detectors were activated, it meant that it was a person and nothing happened. When only the lower one was activated, it meant that it was an animal, and immediately the sprinklers came on. I haven’t had that problem since.”
From technical to human
For more than 20 years, Oriol has dedicated his day-to-day work to the purely technical side of IoT. However, two years ago, he decided to turn his career around: he started giving classes and public talks and discovered that, from that side, he could help more people.
“I already know that I can achieve whatever I want with technology because I’ve been doing it for the last 20 years. But it’s more satisfying to help, teach, train… and help people make their dreams come true thanks to this technology.” In this line, Oriol defends as a leitmotiv the acronym “SKEC”: Sharing, Knowledge, Experience & Creativity.
For Oriol Rius, being the new Director of the Global Master’s in Internet of Things at Zigurat means taking this leitmotiv to the maximum exponent:
“During school, later in high school and finally at university I always questioned that the educational plans did not fit what I thought I had to learn at each of those stages. I finally have the opportunity to be able to say what competencies or skills people should acquire to develop specific positions. And it’s amazing.”
Rius also proudly defends the fact that his new program is a long way apart from what is currently available on the market:
“Normally programs in this field are not created by professionals active in this sector, but by academics or professors. It’s knowledge, yes, but not experience.”
Quite the opposite applies to the current teaching team of the IoT master’s program that Oriol leads. Its faculty board is made up of active professionals with extensive experience in different disciplines within the IoT field, such as cybersecurity, connectivity, Cloud Computing or Data Analysis and Visualization.
Asked about the main challenges facing the IoT, Oriol responds with a surprising statistic:
“Many IoT projects fail. I once read that around 75% fail. And they fail, moreover, in their most initial phase, the so-called Proof of Concept (PoC) phase. This PoC tries to validate the hypothesis that IoT can be useful for a project, that it makes business sense. Well, PoCs usually focus on finding the technological solution, and that should not be the first thing to validate. The first thing to validate should be whether the project makes sense for life, as a business. Then we will see how we can solve it technically.”
During his speech, Oriol repeatedly argues that technology alone is useless, that it is only a tool that should always be used with a purpose, not as a purpose.
Rius is also concerned about data privacy: “Technology will guarantee us a prosperous future, but the price will be our privacy.” Something, he assures us, to which we do not currently give the importance it deserves, and which can only be changed through education.
Another concern in this sector, he admits, is the lack of professionals in this field:
“IoT is the example of new market requirements for which education is not prepared. The reason is that it is a mix of knowledge from different disciplines: electronics, networking, systems administration, data analysis…. That is our challenge in this master’s degree: to educate to meet these new requirements.”
“Our challenge in this master’s degree is to educate to meet the new requirements of the market”
But not only that: in this program, he adds, special attention will also be paid to soft skills, those that have to do with the relationship with people: “The biggest challenge we have today is not technology, but being able to align the interests, the mindsets of the people who are part of the projects,” says the director of the master’s degree.
Asked about the prerequisites that students should have, he replies: “Curiosity. Being a curious person, who wonders how things work, is the only requirement.”
And, he says, this master’s degree is not specifically aimed at technical profiles -although it has a strong technological component- but will provide all the skills needed to create a prototype, allowing a project or solution to be demonstrated to be viable.
Oriol ends the interview by talking about the IoT revolution, which he assures us opens up new and promising possibilities for the future. A revolution that future students of the master’s program he leads will surely be part of.
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