Despite some challenges during his education, Adam Pantanowitz has gone on to pursue a successful and unconventional career in biomedical and electrical engineering. Recently he achieved IET Fellowship at the age of 34.
“I had complex schooling due to health issues, and this resulted in major setbacks such as missing a great deal of high school instruction,” Adam explains. “Now that I’ve achieved Fellowship, I look back and feel that those setbacks actually increased my ambition.”
For Adam, achieving Fellowship has brought him more than just a sense of personal satisfaction.
“Recognition from peers is something unique,” he says. “It shows that my achievements have been validated in a deep way, by professionals who know and understand the work of engineers. This has immense professional and personal value.”
Becoming a digital nomad
So how did Adam get to where he is today? After graduating with bachelor’s degrees in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering, Adam chose a dual career in industry and academia, becoming what he refers to as a “digital nomad”.
On the industry side, he co-founded a number of businesses, worked as Chief Technology Officer for VAT IT and provided technology consultancy to three of South Africa’s major banks.
He has also developed innovations, which have resulted in four patents and 10 academic papers.
His most recent creation is “Brainternet”, a world-first, brain-internet portable live stream. Other projects with colleagues include an eye-controlled wheelchair, a thought-controlled robotic arm with a light-invoked on/off switch and a hands-free surgery interaction system - to name a few.
Meanwhile, Adam has lectured on Engineering and Medicine at Wits University since 2009. He also gives public talks to raise awareness of the impact of engineering and technology on society.
Seeking professional recognition has been part of the journey, and Adam now has a number of credentials to his name – IntPE, CEng, EUR ING, as well as FIET.
Contributing to the IET community
Adam is excited as to what the future holds as an IET Fellow. “I can bring ideas from my alternative career route, as well as a quirkiness, excitement and curiosity, to the IET community,” he says.
“I haven’t done things in a traditional way – I’ve moved between professional roles and the creative freedoms of digital ‘free-work’. Just yesterday in a coffee shop, I tried on a wireless EEG to record my brain activity. I noted to my engineering colleague that it wasn’t the first time!”
Adam is also keen to put his passion for biomedical and electrical engineering to good use through the IET: “I would like to raise awareness of the industry amongst the general public and encourage greater participation in STEM.
“Most importantly, I want to encourage people within our fields to make the most of our collective knowledge for the broader improvement of humans. We have the ability to shape our realities, and I hope to let people know that they can achieve great things despite their challenges.”