On November 9th, Warwick Engineering Society hosted their largest ever event at the University of Warwick. Warwick Technology Conference: Rise of the Machines brought together 500 university students, college students and researchers from across the Midlands for a day of speakers, workshops and panel discussions. The event was held in the brand-new £19M Oculus building, and featured speakers discussing topics in robotics and manufacturing.
Speakers included Professor Ingmar Posner from the Oxford Robotics Group, who gave a talk entitled “Moving Towards a Driverless Future”, and Matt Denton, Founder of MicroMagic Systems and creator of the BB-8 droid from Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. The society also teamed up with other student-led organisations such as WarwickTECH, who led workshops using DIY robot kits. A workshop was also held by Warwick Biomedical Outreach Team, who showcased some of their latest gear including a leap motion controller and an EEG headset. Callum Thornton, a 4th year Systems Engineer who helped organised the workshop, said “It was good to see so many students interested in the work we do. Biomedical Engineering has so many applications and isn’t as well-known as other engineering disciplines. It applies engineering principles and technology to medical and biological problems and has really developed as a subject over the past five years.”
Another speaker was Julian Dixon-Smith, Robotics Application Engineer at KUKA Robotics, who gave a talk discussing the strengthening link between robots and people. "The event was very good and I was really impressed with how well it was all organised” said Julian. “The world needs more engineers, so it was good to see so many young people at this event." The conference was one of many events held every term by the society, who also hold regular careers and academic events, including site visits to companies such as Rolls-Royce, Airbus and BMW. The society is also hosting another large conference, ‘Warwick Energy Conference: The Energy Trilemma’, in February 2017.
Speaking after the event Jake Locke, President of Warwick Engineering Society, said “Our aim was to showcase the many different ways in which robots are playing an ever increasing role in our day-to-day lives. The fact that we sold out is testament to the months of hard work volunteered by the organising team.
“Organising such a large event is no easy task, especially when you realise that the society is completely student-run. I’m grateful to all of our speakers and sponsors as without their support this event wouldn’t have been possible. A special thanks goes to the School of Engineering and WMG who have supported us throughout.”
The society also partnered with the School of Engineering and WMG to promote the benefits of engineering to young people, and welcomed over 50 local sixth form and college students. Caroline Geraghty, from the University of Warwick’s Outreach and Widening Participation team, said “On behalf of Think Higher Coventry & Warwickshire and the local schools who attended the conference last week, I wanted to say thank you for enabling them to participate. I’ve received excellent feedback from the schools and these opportunities are fantastic for giving sixth form students a taste of university life, and hearing from hugely interesting speakers.”