Friends pay a ‘flying’ visit to University of Buckingham

The Friends of the University had the chance to try out a virtual flying machine and meet a robot dog, when they visited the University of Buckingham’s refurbished School of Computing.

By Hannah Richardson
Monday, 9th May 2022, 4:23 pm
Updated Monday, 9th May 2022, 5:01 pm

The Friends are a voluntary group which raises money to help students during their time at Buckingham.

During their visit to the school on the Verney Park campus, Prof Harin Sellahewa, dean of the Faculty and Computing, Law and Psychology showed them the fruits of a £3.2 million investment, including £1.6 million funding from Bucks Local Enterprise Partnership.

More than 20 Friends saw the AI, robotics, cybersecurity, games development labs and ‘Tech Incubator’ - where innovative tech solutions and services will be made available to enable tech start-up companies to grow.

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Friends member Chris Fogden has a go on Birdly

There will also be a café open to the public once work is complete.

The visit included meeting Spot, the robotic dog, which can be used in radioactive or smoke-filled areas or structurally unsafe buildings.

Members also had the chance to try Birdly, an immersive virtual flying machine that enables the user to ‘fly’ like a bird over virtual landscapes.

Applications range from planning construction projects to health and wellbeing uses.

Friends of the University meet Spot the robotic dog

Members ‘flew’ over Central Park and a Jurassic landscape.

Prof Sellahewa said: “Local people are welcome to visit the School of Computing. A number of schools have visited.

"Our software development will keep Buckingham at the forefront of AI and robotics teaching and research.

"We’re also keen to promote computing and AI to women – we have a higher-than-average number of female students on our courses.

"A knowledge of computing technology is no longer just needed for those going into IT – any subjects, from Law to Medicine, are now demanding a level of understanding in computing and AI.”

Friend Cherry Baker said: “It really was an inspirational visit. It was great to have an insight into what talent, drive and aspiration we have right here in Buckingham.

“My flight on Birdly was an unexpected treat.”

Friends raise funds through membership fees, events and donations to enhance the lives of students while at Buckingham, and they enjoy a programme of social events and activities.

For details, visit the Friends' website which was designed by School of Computing students.