When businesses collaborate with students, the benefits cut both ways. For the company, the students can add value by solving real business problems. Whilst students, supported by academic staff, improve their knowledge and skills working on a real innovation challenge. Such opportunities also give students vital work experience to improve their future employment prospects.
City, University of London, offers an MSc in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems to give students experience in using current technologies. This rapidly expanding part of the economy, both in the UK and internationally, has applications in transport, robotics, healthcare, defence, manufacturing, logistics and energy and more. Both new graduates and professionals interested in pursuing a career in one of the emerging application areas related to Systems Autonomy, join the programme. City posted a collaboration call on NCUB’s brokerage platform, konfer, to find companies with innovation challenges in this area to work with students who can develop solutions, as part of the industry project component of the programme.
i3D robotics, a company which specialises in 3D vision technology, responded to City’s call and MSc student Anojan Raveendran started on one of their projects. Dr Richard French, Senior Systems Scientist at i3Dr, believes it is important to provide students who support their R&D with the best possible experience as they could be future staff members. i3Dr offers a range of opportunities to determine where students have flair and aptitude. Students can show their prowess and gain personal ownership of a small section of a development project, which often provides significant self-motivation for both the student and the company team.
Dr French said: 'Quite often post-graduate students are not aware of their talents outside their chosen discipline. Self-motivation, and the desire to gain, refine and apply new skills is critical for an R&D-led SME such as ours where we work at the cutting edge of new technology development. New skills, new ideas and new talent does not necessarily demonstrate immediate impact but generates considerable value by opening minds to new possibilities, some of which eventually result in a technology step change by sowing the seeds for the start of a new journey’.’
Anojan contributed towards the implementation of an automated multi-axis linear translation system for an advanced Raman spectrometer with i3Dr’s sister company IS-Instruments. He helped progress the development of a deep ultraviolet Raman spectrometer which will be going into field trials at a multinational pharmaceutical company.
The relationship between the two companies sees i3Dr support any control, automation, and robotic engineering needs for IS-Instruments Ltd. Anojan’s project helped get an urgent IS-I commercial system delivered, by turning his hand to some of the bespoke automation software development.
He also worked on a spectral data collection project to reduce/eliminate instrument-based noise sources. His contribution was to develop a correction algorithm to remove deleterious optical artefacts to produce clearer Raman spectra. Commenting on the project, Anojan said he found the opportunity to work with a UR10 robotic arm valuable: ‘This expanded my practical knowledge. This project is enhancing my skills in computer vision and software development. I also had the chance to delve into camera calibration, which gave me with hands-on experience in an essential aspect of computer vision technology.’
Head of Corporate Relations & Employability at City, Mohson Khan said: ‘As the University of business, practice and the professions, helping our students secure real-world experience through industrial projects is a key component of City’s strategy. We hope this collaboration with i3Dr is just the beginning of our partnership and will lead to more collaboration opportunities. konfer’s role in facilitating this was key to establishing this partnership.’
If you would like help with finding innovation partners for your R&D projects, please get in touch.