One man’s drudgery is another man’s dream.

As a photonics student who also works as an electronics engineer at CEDES in Landquart, Klims Saikins has a lot on his plate. Despite the stress, he’s happy – Klims lives to learn.

It’s difficult to find a subject that Klims Saikins isn’t passionate about. He seems to have a deep enthusiasm for just about everything he does. And this passion doesn’t just extend to his hobbies – bouldering, travelling, hiking, and cars –, but also his work at CEDES in Landquart and his photonics degree at the University of Applied Sciences in Chur (FHGR).

 

From apprentice to engineer

While others might see their everyday lives as necessary drudgery, Klims’ eyes light up when he talks to us about his. Klims was born in Russia and grew up in Latvia, and came to Switzerland at the age of 13. He is now definitely a proud Graubünden resident. “This may sound corny, but for me CEDES has become like a family. I also get the opportunity to learn something new here every day, which is amazing.” Some of the older engineers are role models for him, and he really looks up to them.

Klims can’t imagine working anywhere else right now. Here, at one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sensor solutions, he completed his apprenticeship and started his career – and will probably be working as a photonics engineer before too long.

“I always wanted to know how a cathode-ray tube works. Now I know. But my parents had to buy a new TV.”

We ask him to explain exactly what a photonics engineer does: “We study how a photon reacts to an electron, and what you can do with it. We try to work out things like how we can use solar energy, or how we can bundle reflected light to take a picture with it.” His work involves a lot of mathematics, physics and geometry. It seems one man’s drudgery is another man’s dream.

 

Starving for knowledge

Despite being just 23, Klims has an astonishing amount of discipline. Even before he started his electronics apprenticeship, he knew there was more to come. His goal was always to become an engineer. His drive seems to stem from a desire to never stop learning, and perhaps his past plays a role as well. Now, here in Graubünden, at CEDES, he can do anything he wants. That was a little more difficult earlier on in his life, in his mother’s native country, as part of the Russian-speaking minority in an underdeveloped country. His enthusiasm is plain to see when he talks about the project he is currently working on – the development of a light sensor that controls barriers, lifts and sliding doors. He’s still in his early twenties, and already a project manager.

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He also recalls the early days as a student of photonics at the FHGR, and work that they did in the last semester, involving a plate that moves on two axes, with a marble balanced on it, all monitored by a camera. The image data was evaluated and converted into commands for the motors, so that the marble could be used to play golf, for instance.

 

A trip around the world

Electronics have fascinated Klims for as long as he can recall. When he was little, he would take apart remote-controlled cars and all kinds of household appliances. The TV was unable to avoid becoming a victim of his curiosity: “I always wanted to know how a cathode-ray tube works. Now I know. But my parents had to buy a new TV.”

After graduating, Klims wants to convert a van into a custom camper van and take it on a round-the-world trip. He’s already found the van and planned his route. And after that? “I’d really like to come back here.” Last year, on a short trip to Asia, he realised that there is more to CEDES than just Landquart. “I knew that CEDES had a sales representative in Singapore. So, after I made my travel plans, I thought: ‘I’ll send him a WhatsApp. Maybe he’ll be pleased.’ Then he organised everything – food, a driver, a sightseeing tour – without ever having met me. That is typical of CEDES to me.”

But the company from Graubünden doesn’t just do business in Singapore. It has operated a production site in Changshu, China, for 11 years. Engineers from Landquart are often sent there for quality assurance. And of course Klims would be more than ready for the adventure.

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