We opened our doors and welcomed the public on to our Merchiston campus to explore how we at the School of Computing, Engineering & the Built Environment are helping to shape the future of AI.

From tools like Chat GPT changing the way we work and communicate, to self-driving vehicles, the field of artificial intelligence is fast moving, wide reaching, and impacting all areas of life. The world of AI is full of both opportunities and threats, and we at Edinburgh Napier University are developing innovative solutions to help us make the most of this technology whilst protecting us against its pitfalls. 

From 14 – 16 May, the School of Computing, Engineering & the Built Environment opened its doors to showcase all the incredible research, tools and expertise being developed by our staff and students to help shape the world of AI. We invited our industry partners, staff, students, alumni and the local community to join us, including classes from local schools. Attendees were able to have a go at controlling one of our robot dogs, interact with our social robots who try to read facial expressions, find out how we stay protected against cybersecurity threats and learn about how our students are building a driverless F1 car. 

To open the exhibition, the school welcomed Industry Advisory Board members and other key external stakeholders on to campus for a drinks reception and a first look around the exhibits.  The SCEBE Industry Advisory Boards form part of the School's strategy to build a proactive partnerships with industry, enabling both sides to align their activities and meet each other’s needs across science, technology, engineering, applied research, education, skills tailoring and development. We were joined on Tuesday by around 40 representatives from across a range of disciplines. 

The following day, on Wednesday 15 May, local schools were invited to bring classes on campus. Pupils were encouraged to explore the world of AI and get hands on with the exhibits, learning how to control some of the robots and chatting to academics about their latest innovations. They were also given tokens to vote for the exhibits they loved the most, and which exhibits they felt had a positive or negative impact on society. Euclid, our talking, humanoid robot, with speech synced to lip movement made a big impression on schools – the pictures may help to explain why! 

The final day, the 16 May, the doors to the Glassroom were fully open and the School welcomed over 165 members of the local community, as well as staff, students and alumni to experience the exhibition. It was great to see people from outside the University get to better understand what we do and how our research can impact people’s daily lives, as well as seeing an encounter between a real dog and our robot dog, with mixed results! 
Dr John McDougall, a Reader at the School of Computing, Engineering & the Built Environment who organised the event, said of the Exhibition: 

‘The event is now in its 3rd year and in that time has gone from strength to strength.  We have welcomed into the university the general public, industrial guests and partners, high school and primary school pupils.  With a footfall of more than 500 over the 3 days, this year, “Powered by AI”, surpassed our expectations.  Visitors have been able to see and to get hands on, with the implementation of AI in robotic dogs, communications by facial expression, social robots, virtual and intermediate reality, simultaneous mapping, devices for assisted living, collision avoidance in driverless vehicles and cyber security.’

Preparations will soon begin for next year’s event, and we look forward to once again welcoming our community to see what goes on behind our doors.