As one of the UK Government centres of excellence in Artificial Intelligence research training, we are working to support all our students and staff during the current COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, we are guided both by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the principles set out by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton.
To ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of our students and staff
Our first task was to ensure that all our students had the environment and facilities they required to continue their studies. Regular meetings between all CDT students, the Cohort lead and Director continue virtually, with the safety and wellbeing of the students being our top priority. We are working with all students and supervisors to support their research and engagement with the programme. We are continuing with plans for cohort activities including on-line outreach activities and hackathons. Both the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) and the University are supporting students and staff through regular wellbeing sessions.
To continue to provide the quality and breadth of education our students expect
We have, in consultation with our students, put in place rigorous assessments for all core modules. Our mechanism for assessing student progress at the end of year 1 will take into account their performance during Semester 1, the adapted Semester 2 module assessments as well as the summer MIND6004 (Feasibility Study) as defined in the programme specification. This will ensure that all students fully meet the learning outcomes of the programme, and that we maintain the quality and breadth of education that our students expect.
We are adapting our enhanced research training programme so that it may continue to be delivered for students joining us in October to the same standard. These plans will enable us to deliver high-quality research training regardless of the constraints we have to work within, ensuring the continued safety and wellbeing of students and staff.
To sustain and strengthen our research community
We are continuing our recruitment processes for October 2020 through on-line information sessions, helpdesk for applicants, and interviews. We recognise that, for some applicants, their final year of undergraduate or taught postgraduate training will have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, we are working closely with the Graduate School to acquire sufficient evidence from applicants to enable us to make robust unconditional offers for the coming academic year.
The MINDS CDT runs a summer internship programme to provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to engage with our research, and to promote a diverse student population. This scheme is going ahead for summer 2020, and three undergraduate students will be working remotely with our CDT students and academic staff over the summer.
A core aim of the MINDS CDT is to build upon our interdisciplinary research strengths and develop new collaborations with our industry stakeholders. The supervisory teams working with our first cohort of students all involve experts in both AI and Engineering with 67% being new collaborations and the majority co-funded with industry.
We have continued to develop new research projects among academic staff and with our industry and government partners, establishing further new collaborations to extend our research community. We will be working with students joining us in October to help them identify and shape their research project. If you would like to engage in this process, please get in touch.
To deliver on our role as a civic and global University
Our students and staff are working with local schools to develop inspiring and accessible activities for their students. All our students engage in outreach activities each year, and we believe that working with local schools will bring the greatest value to our community at this time.
Finally, thank you to all our students, supervisors, and industry and government collaborators working with the CDT during this difficult time.
Prof. Tim Norman, MINDS CDT Director