I was recently invited to have a gander at the new £18m Ritterman Building at Middlesex University which provides astate-of-the-art teaching facility for technology and design.
Environmental sustainability is at the heart of the Ritterman building as part of the University’s commitment in reducing our environmental impact. Sustainable features include solar panels, a bio-diverse green living roof and four living walls that cover 110 square meters. The living wall is the biggest in Barnet and has over 3,500 evergreen plants designed to flower at different times of the year to create interest and encourage wildlife.
While the building is impressive in itself is impressive, what goes on inside is amazing as I saw when I was shown around by Franco Raimondi and Zara Newman.
Have a look at some of the things you’ll see there:
Meet Pepper. Pepper as you can see is a robot and robotics is a major element in technology education at Middlesex University. Having Pepper, along with Nao and Baxter, allows students to get to grips with programming robots which is a key future skill.
Although these 3 are the popular image of a robot most robot’s are designed for specific purposes so don’t have quite the humanistic appearance they do. Designed to accomplish specific tasks they can vary considerably.
The students start with an Arduino based robot called Myrtle. More technically know as The MIddlesex Robotic plaTfOrm (MIRTO). This provides the framework for developing increasing complexity in robotics, which is the basis for the more advanced work that follows. If you want to know more about MIRTO take a look at Franco Raimondi’s Introduction and Version 3 update articles.
Of course not all robots move around and the facilities in the Middlesex robotics and haptics lab are enviable featuring over 100 workstations with equipment and software including CAD/CAM equipment, an integrated flexible manufacturing system, state of the art automation devices, LabView and Multisim tools as well as associated hardware such as NI-ELVIS training equipment and Compact Rio control systems.
We have always been impressed with the work that we see coming out of Middlesex through our sponsorship of the First Year Technology prize. There have been some excellent entries (take a look at last year’s winners) and check more info here.
You know that you are only moving a few centimetres at most but you really, really do want to hold on! This is project in the basement (along with some other interesting stuff) which links up an Oculus Rift 3d headset with a seat from a flight simulator. With a clever bit of programming you really feel you are on a roller coaster.
And here I am trying to look like I know it’s hardly moving – but really feeling like I’m on the real thing!
When you enter the Ritterman Building the first thing you are likely to see is the 3d pot maker. This is an excellent example of integrating different technologies . While the pot is created using the 3d printer the shape of the pot is governed by the number of tweets that mention Middlesex University – so an intense period can be seen as a bump on the pot.
Of course it is not just tweets that can be used, music is another medium that was used to create a pot for Dame Janet Ritterman to celebrate the buildings opening.
I had a great time at the Middlesex University Scholarship and Awards Event 2016. This was held in the Ricketts Quad – certainly a place to shock and awe.
Systematic sponsors the First Year Challenge Award which is awarded to the winning team of first year computer science students who take part in a challenge building robotics applications. It was a pleasure to meet the winners again, Timothy Cole and Nicholas Fitton who won the award for their smart house project. I’m always impressed by the keenness of the winners of this award and the amount of work that they put in, as well as the staff who support the project Dr Giuseppe Primiero and Prof Franco Raimondi.
This year we shared a table with the winner and sponsors of The David Tresman Caminer Award which provides funding for a PhD project on the history of computing. The award is named after one of the pioneers of the LEO computer that was developed by J. Lyons and Co in the 1950s and widely acknowledged as the first business computer in the World. This year the award,
sponsored by the Association for Information Technology Trust, was won by Elisabetta Mori and I look forward to seeing the results of this research.