On this page, I will log some of my notable public engagement activities. I have recently begun working with local schools to introduce young students to bio-inspired robotics, given public lectures and also have done some brief documentary work. I also try to keep an up-to-date Twitter feed that is publicly available for interested people to follow. If you would like to work with me on delivering some outreach, please get in touch.
14 June 2019 – ‘Swarm engineering: from bio-inspiration to robots and nanoparticles’. I spoke to around 130 members of the public at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, as part of the Science & Technology Facilities Council’s ‘Talking Science’ lecture series.
16 October 2018 – ‘Animals and robots in groups’ – I spoke to around 15 children (aged 8-10) at St John’s Primary School, Clifton, about how engineers look to animals for inspiration. I did a Kilobot demonstration showing synchronisation of lights like fireflies, as well as showing a Sphero robot. The school is entering a ‘Tech Factor’ competition to win some robotics kits (Lego WeDo).
8 October 2018 – ‘Swarm robotics: holding a mirror up to nature?’. I gave the keynote talk to kick off the Malvern Festival of Innovation. In a local newspaper: “Highlights included an opening talk from Dr Edmund Hunt of the University of Bristol’s robotics lab, explaining how robots are being programmed to cooperate in swarms using nature as a blueprint.”
15 June 2018 – Bristol University Open Day. Helped to run a ‘swarm stall’ for potential undergraduate students and their parents.
Public engagement with scientific research is very important, for multiple reasons. Here are three that come to my mind. First, universities perform a central and vital role in creating knowledge and they have a humanistic duty to share findings, to help others’ self-realisation. Second, in the ‘knowledge economy’ of the 21st century society scientists can have a huge socioeconomic impact in their local community, especially by raising awareness of career opportunities among young people. Third, a country’s taxpayers fund much of the work that goes on in universities, and they have a right to know how some of their money is being spent. The knowledge that is created by academic thinkers is arguably ‘co-created’ within the whole ‘community ecology’ of a modern industrial society, that permits some of us to pursue our niche interests!