Five questions for Axel Stenberg
Product Manager Axel Stenberg on mind control, creating cars, and future engineering.
What is the best part of your job?
Being able to go from an empty sheet of paper to a complete car that you can drive.
It all begins with a vague idea of what product we would like to create. And then we work until it’s right in front of us, all finished. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it.
Right now, I'm in the early process of creating the specification of a new Polestar vehicle. At this point, we are looking into the future, trying to figure out which technology might be available, what the customer is expecting, what our competitors will have to offer, and so on. It’s a creative part of the project that I really enjoy. But my absolute favourite part of the job is when we’ve finished the building of our first test cars, and we finally get to see the actual product in real life. Knowing that it didn’t exist before. Knowing that this is something that our team worked really hard for and almost "willed" into life. That’s a very, very special moment. And it sure makes up for all the hard work.
How does the reality of your job compare with what people think you do?
The reality of my job is to keep the complete picture of the product in mind throughout the entire project. At the early stages of the project, I work on a high level and examine things like what type of battery we should have or if we need a frunk in the car and so on. As the project evolves, we dive into the details to see if all the technical systems are living up to the required specifications. We look at costs and we figure out if the interior light should be a little whiter, etc.
Later, when the car is finally ready to be unveiled to the public, it’s my job to explain it to the press. At that point in time, I'm supposed to know everything about the car. I answer all the questions that the media and others might have, both the high-level questions and the extremely detailed ones.
What is your favourite invention (you can’t say electrification)?
There are so many that I take for granted. I really like bikes for example. But the invention that I think all of us use the most, and that basically none of us could imagine 25 years ago, is the smartphone. I remember discussing the future of the Walkman when I was 16. We imagined a MiniDisc player combined with a Palm Pilot. There was actually an April fool’s prank about this spec because it was so out of reach. Check it out. If someone would have told me then, what you can do with a phone today, I would have been so impressed!
What makes you hopeful for the future?
I'm an engineer, so I put my trust in the capabilities of people. I trust that we will engineer new technology that makes the world a better place. That's actually why I chose to become an engineer to begin with. Considering the fact that our computing power and our understanding of the world is increasing faster and faster, I'm sure we will figure out a way to solve our biggest problems and create a really cool future. It won’t be without a few bumps in the road of course, but I'm sure it will work out. EVs are an example of such tech. SpaceX is another really inspiring example of tech that makes me look forward to the future.
Would you rather be able to control animals with your mind, or electronics with your mind?
Electronics! Just imagine if you could do everything you can do on your phone, inside your head. For example, having a Facetime call with someone. You see them inside your head, and if you want, you can let them see what you see. Or if you are wondering about something, you can search for an answer "online" just by thinking. Mind control of electronics would basically merge the human and the smartphone. And that would be awesome.
Design Fest Ghent: caramel, corn, and circular creations
When visiting Ghent this spring, one may have caught the smell of caramel, sugar cane, and corn. Especially around Brabantdam 31. Not because the circus was in town, but because of another event. Design Fest Ghent, a new biennial design festival, showcases ground-breaking designs and sustainable innovations. Like the sweet-smelling, circular creation BreaZea.