Dr. Richard Thomas shares his passion for LabVIEW and how the software is essential to his career.
Q: What were some of the first projects you worked on with LabVIEW?
A: In 2000, I was completing my PhD studies at Leicester University where LabVIEW 6i was controlling and acquiring data from a large-scale wind tunnel. I took to the concept of graphical programming like a duck to water and began using LabVIEW to acquire, process, and present the masses of data I was collecting. Because it was so easy to experiment and explore software ideas, I quickly created an interactive, animated plot to show a measured boundary layer time variation, which I could export as a movie file. When I later worked at the University of Cambridge, I created numerous software solutions for myself and students, including high-speed data acquisition, 3-axis robotic probe controls, and APIs for communicating across instruments. I also created a network-enabled safety-monitoring application for students working in isolated laboratories. LabVIEW drivers made it easy to communicate with most third-party hardware.
Q: What did you do to improve your LabVIEW programming skills?
A: I initially just explored LabVIEW, examined existing code, and interacted on the NI forums to learn programming techniques. When I joined Product Technology Partners Ltd, I started a more rigorous training program. By studying the resources and training manuals on the NI website, I honed my software development skills and became a Certified LabVIEW Architect (CLA). The training helped advance my professional approach to designing full software solutions for customers.
Q: How has LabVIEW helped advance your career?
A: LabVIEW has been absolutely instrumental in my career. After studying aerodynamics for many years, I realized in 2008 that LabVIEW development was what I really wanted to do. I took an ambitious sideways leap into the software consultancy world and I’ve never looked back. Becoming a CLA raised my profile in my local LabVIEW developer community. LabVIEW is the largest part of my unfolding career and I couldn’t imagine a future without it!
Q: How do you give back to the LabVIEW Community?
A: I help run one of only two LabVIEW user groups in the UK. As a regular presenter and host of the Cambridge LabVIEW User Group, I’m happy to share my knowledge and experience with other developers. I’m also a regular contributor to the NI Community and NI Discussion Forums, and I participate in the LabVIEW beta program. My community contributions recently helped me become the first UK developer accepted into the prestigious LabVIEW Champions group, which is made up of members from the global community who are recognized for helping grow LabVIEW adoption and proficiency.