The University of Southampton

Self-pouring wine and snacky hound star in Southampton Rube Goldberg Machine

Published: 15 January 2021
Southampton students showcased their creativity in the virtual induction into the iPhD programme.

Creative AI students at the University of Southampton have embraced social distancing by constructing an inventive Rube Goldberg Machine that travels around the city.

Seventeen new starters at the UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Machine Intelligence for Nanoelectronic Devices and Systems (MINDS) spread the joy in the one-minute video.

The cohort were challenged to construct the chain reaction and post a group photo as part of their virtual induction into the iPhD programme.

A cuddly Pikachu, Donald Trump disco and hungry hound all flash in and out of sight before a cool glass of white wine is poured for an appreciative student.

The MINDS CDT is developing the next generation of technology pioneers who will have the skills, assets and network to innovate at the interface of Artificial Intelligence and Electronics, and enable systems with beneficial human impact.

All students in the research training programme follow a combination of computer science and electronics modules that develop cross-disciplinary expertise, before focussing on a core research element.

Professor Tim Norman, CDT Director and Head of the Agents, Interaction and Complexity Group, says: "It's great to be working with our second cohort on the MINDS Integrated PhD programme, one of the UK Government’s centres of excellence in AI research training. Seventeen students joined us this year with backgrounds from across Maths, Physics, Computer Science and Engineering."

Dr Christine Evers, Training & Cohort Development Lead and Embedded AI Theme Leader, adds: "Our aim as a Centre for Doctoral Training is high quality research in a supportive and collaborative environment, and to have some fun at the same time. We are all deeply impressed by the virtual Rube Goldberg Machine and look forward to seeing this talent being channelled into ambitious research projects that will impact society, security and safety."

While induction activities have had to take place online for the second cohort, the new students have built up a strong and supportive sense of togetherness, through the University’s approach to blended learning and managing to meet in person when social distancing rules allowed before the recent lockdown.

Existing students have taken on mentoring roles for the new starters and also recently put together a virtual AI workshop for local sixth form colleges and schools.

Applications for a 2021 MINDS CDT Studentship are now open.

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