News >> QMUL students from UK and China join forces

March 08th, 2016

The first QMUL-BUPT Joint Programme (JP) Innovation Centre initiative, the Design and Build Winter Hack, brings together students from London and Beijing for an unforgettable transnational experience.

The "Hack" workshop was held in the Electronics Lab at Mile End from 22nd to 26th February. Ten students from the JP in Beijing travelled to London and joined seven undergraduates from EECS to conduct projects in five groups using the Aldebaran NAO robots.

The kick-off day, 22nd February, was also the Chinese Lantern Festival when Chinese families gather together to enjoy the first full moon of the year and plan ahead. On that day, Mr Dave Snowdon, from UKNAO, gave a crash course in NAO programming in the morning, then the five teams had their first hands-on experience with the NAOs in the afternoon.

The students took part in some hardware fabrication by soldering and constructing an LED cube that was used as the light source inside a lantern on the second day of the programme. The team-building activity helped them to get to know each other better. They planned and organised very well and at the end of the day all teams succeeded and had a promising light source.

The Hack challenge was revealed later that afternoon: they were asked to program the robot to identify a hot and coloured lantern.

The teams set to work on their programs to let the robots sense heat and recognise colours during the third and the fourth day. One of the participants said: "We had so many different opinions in our programs, and fortunately we can discuss and pick the best one. " Another noted: "We had learnt so much outside the classroom: not only a new programming language – Python - but also the way that we should properly deal with real and advanced robots like NAO."

Professor Peter McOwen, Vice Principal for Public Engagement & Student Enterprise, Professor Geraint Wiggins, Head of EECS and Mr Dave Snowdon, UKNAO, attended the demonstrations on the afternoon of 26th February. They were impressed by the students’ outstanding work and reckoned the Hack had given them a truly special experience in learning outside the classroom.

The winners of the Hack were team "Bilibili" while the runners-up were team "I.Robot". Dave explained in the award ceremony: "the winners have innovatively solved the challenge in a robotic way – they make use of dialogues and gestures in response to different lanterns."

Prof. Wiggins emphasised that everyone was a winner of the Hack week and has been awarded priceless knowledge and friends. He added: "it is the most enjoyable Friday afternoon that we had all year and we are glad to be part of these exciting demonstrations by our students."

Dr Yue Chen, QM Director of the JP and the Innovation Centre, closed the week-long Hack by highlighting the massive effort put in by supporting staff to make the event happen. In particular, Dr Matthew Tang, the coordinator of the whole event, was also presented with a plaque in recognition of starting this special annual transnational activity.

 QMUL and NeeHao also report this news.