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Drink Outside the Box 2.0

A fresh cohort, a fresh start! AgriFoRwArdS Cohort 3 University of Lincoln student Alex Elias and Cohort 3 University of East Anglia student James Bennett take over the reigns of the Drink Outside the Box social agenda. A huge thank you to the magnificent co-founders Karoline Heiwolt and Roopika Ravikanna who are now busy in the third year of their PhD, and also Harry Rogers who is well into his second year of research. Alex shares the opening events from the refreshed Drink Outside The Box activities.

So, for everyone that doesn’t know already Drink Outside the Box (DOtB) is a fortnightly casual event led by students for students, of AgriFoRwArdS and the wider robotics community at Lincoln to get together, find out about each other’s research in an informal setting, but most importantly connect socially.

Before I get into what is planned for the revival of DOtB over the next year I need to firstly thanks the previous cohorts for coming up with this idea to begin with. Karoline Heiwolt and Roopika Ravikanna from cohort 1 and Harry Rogers from cohort 2 first came up with this idea and made it a reality back in 2020, originally as a means of making sure students stayed in contact with each other during the pandemic lockdowns to help aid researchers’ mental health throughout those difficult times. However, as they now come closer to finishing their PhD’s they simply do not have the time to spare, and they have had to pass the torch down to me and my UEA liaison James Bennett and take a step back but are still very much an active and vital part of the DOtB Planning Team.

New and updated DOtB Logo

Now everyone is on the same page, “what are these so-called changes” I hear you all shouting and that is the way in which each meet up is going to be structured. As before Drink Outside the Box is going to be run every two weeks but from now on the first meet of the month will involve an online aspect, this is so that people from University of Cambridge and the University of East Anglia will be able to attend and catch up with people they won’t be able to see every day, predominantly the online meetings teams chats will involve some form of activity such as an online quiz.

Following the hour online meeting I organise an in person meet up in a different pub each time, this is to allow people attending to experience different parts of Lincoln in which they might never normally go while still shaking up things each time we meet. While this is happening at Lincoln the liaisons in East Anglia and Cambridge will organise the same for the students that are attending in their respecting University’s.

Now the second meet up of each month will involve some form of activity this will vary from month to month from mini golf, to bowling, axe throwing pottery classes. The reasoning for this is it’s great being able to sit around a table in a pub to talk but as the number of attends increase at these events it is increasingly difficult to be able to speak to everyone and over each other in such a small space and its more fun.

The first DOtB online quiz and in person meet was on the 24th of November, the online quiz was fun and a great way to get back in the swing of things with these events. Cohort 3 did put the rest to shame making up a good 70% of attendees and even though there wasn’t the biggest turn out online it was great to see so many of my cohort that have moved away just catching up in general whist still discussing/ comparing how our research is going. The months pub meet up in Lincoln that followed the online quiz was at the Swan on the Braford campus and had such a great turn out. We had almost everyone from cohort 4 attend which was great as it gave me and fellow cohort 3 attendees the chance to formally introduce ourselves as we hadn’t met officially before this meet up. Also, we had a lot of people from the Robotics and Autonomous System MSc and members of LCAS which was great to see some faces that were outside of the CDT but still in the same fields.

(Left) DOtB online Christmas Quiz participants and (Right) bar meet up at the University of Lincoln’s Swan pub.

To start the first of our external activity a group of us attended Lincoln’s all new and different mini golf bar called “Glory Holes” (a pun on the name of the medieval high bridge on Lincoln high street). Swinging and sinking putts: Glory Holes brings a unique 18 hole indoor golfing experience, each more unique than the last, for everyone to get stuck into. What better way to finish the year than a few rounds of mini golf, we had representatives from cohort 1, 3 & 4 all looking to have a laugh and take some well-deserved time away from the always growing workload that is involved in both MSc and PhD journeys.

Everyone met for 7pm to first have a couple of drinks, check out the venue and to casually talk about what they had been up to workwise over the past couple of weeks. What I found interesting was speaking to cohort 4 and hearing about how they are getting on with the MSc as this time last year myself and my cohort was going through the same issues and concerns, it was nice to be able to reassure them with how we delt with some of those issues.

Glory Holes bar which is very well stocked!

As the year comes to an end now myself and the Drink Outside the Box planning team feel as though that we have been able to not only successful revive these events but also have been able to draw up more interest in them due to the different layout in which the events take place. As these are student events run by students for students our number one goal is to be able to deliver content that is inclusive and fun for everyone and we will be continuing to keep that in mind through to next year with even more activities and different pub visits.

Photo of the survivors of the night so far!

I personally would like to thank everyone that came to these new events this year it really means a lot that people were engaging with the idea that myself and the planning team came up with, it allows us to see we’re going down the right track. Thank you again to everyone that help plan and organise the events and we look forward to continuing Drink Outside the Box in 2023, New Year = New Ideas.

A huge thank you to Alex for creating this blog post. If anyone would like to find out Drink Outside the Box then please contact the organising team at

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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