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Alex Elias attends first East Midlands ECR Robotics and Autonomous Systems Networking Event

AgriFoRwArdS CDT student Alex Elias shares his experience attending the inaugural East Midlands ECR Robotics and Autonomous Systems Networking Event that took place on the 9th November 2022.

On the 9th of November I had the privilege to attend the very first East Midlands ECR Robotics and Autonomous Networking event, hosted at the University of Nottingham, where I was able to have my work, “Exploring Trust Toward TIAGo’s Behavior During the Completion of an Agriculture-Related Task” displayed.

The event was organised in collaboration with the University of Lincoln, University of Nottingham, and Nottingham Trent University and was held in the Dearing Building in Nottingham.  The purpose of this event was to create a network of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) in Robotics and Autonomous Systems from various disciplines in the East Midlands by bringing together ECRs with an interest in robotics and autonomous systems from various backgrounds to enable them to build new relationships and hone their academic abilities. The establishment of various research teams will be made possible by this networking event, which will encourage enthusiastic, healthy research culture, and new interdisciplinary research collaborations, funded by “Connected Everything”.

Connected Everything aims to identify the key challenges we face as digital technologies transform our industrial systems.

The event was organised by Maria Jose Galvez, Horia Maior and Reza Vatankhah Barenji and had a packed schedule of keynote speakers, researchers showcase through posters/ demonstrations as well as 3-minute talks, with loads of mini-breaks to maximise the opportunity to network with all attendees.

The keynote speakers at the event where Prof Philip Breedon, Prof Praminda Caleb-Solly and Lincolns very own Prof Marc Hanheide who raised some of the different avenues of robotics from surgical assistance, the expansion on robotic technology from hospitals to homes to varies other careers in robotics.

(Left): Prof Philip Breedon – Professor of Smart Technologies at Nottingham Trent University, (Centre): Prof Praminda Celeb-Solly – Professor of Embodied Intelligence, Faculty of Science, University of Nottingham, (Right): Prof Marc Hanheide – Professor of Intelligent Robotics & Interactive Systems and Director of AgriFoRwArdS CDT, University of Lincoln.

After the keynote speakers and lunch, the first of the showcase sessions begun where multiple people were able to present their posters but unlike most conferences and events where researchers can formally present their work it was a much more relaxed environment where time was allocated for people to walk around freely to enquire about other researchers work. As this was the first time that my work was presented outside of the AgriFoRwArdS CDT I found this approach to be a lot less stressful and more natural. It allowed people to enquire about my research and what my future intentions were without being thrown into the hot seat/ spotlight by having to stand up in front of everyone and talk at 30+ people.

During this session I also was able to have time to walk around myself, meet fellow researchers from all three Universities and discuss potential collaboration in the future. What I found the most surprising was talking to researchers from Lincoln, even though I am around these people on a regular basis it became clear that we didn’t actually know that much about each other’s work and by being put in this external environment we found the time to speak amongst ourselves and learnt a lot more about each other’s research area.

Cohort 3 student, Alex Elias poster presentation titled: “Exploring Trust Towards TIAGo’s Behaviour During the Completion of an Agricultural Task“
Cohort 3 student, Alex Elias poster presentation titled: “Exploring Trust Towards TIAGo’s Behaviour During the Completion of an Agricultural Task

After the poster presentations it was time for the second showcase of the day where researchers had the opportunity to present their research but in the form of 3-minute talks. This part of the event was extremely interesting to me personally as most people know it is hard enough to inform people of their research so that it is clear and understandable but trying to do this within a 3-minute window is extremely difficult. Although I didn’t participate in this part of the event it was interesting to see how researchers presented the key elements of their research to get their point across while simultaneously still having it make sense.

Professor Marc Hanheide giving the keynote speech at the ECR Event.

Overall, for me the event was extremely beneficial, from seeing how other researchers present to building my own confidence when it came to presenting my own work. I spend a lot of time at CDT orientated events which are brilliant, but being able to attend something outside of the normal scope of what I am familiar with allowed me to view my own research through a different perspective. I would highly recommend engaging in as many events that are made available to you as you never know who you are going to meet or what you can learn. I’d like to thank the organisation team of the event as well as the University of Nottingham for hosting, and I am looking forward to attending more of these ECR events.

A huge congratulations to Alex for presenting his work at this event and also sharing his experiences with the rest of the CDT student cohorts. If anyone would like to find out more about Alex’s research please view his profile or contact Alex on

Do you want to get involved in the CDT?

If you are interested in learning more about what we do and if you share a passion for agriculture and technology then go to our AgriFoRwArdS CDT website to see more about our research, how you can be involved and how to apply to be a student in the program.

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