Tiffany Liu attends summer school program on Cognitive Architectures at CITEC, Germany
As my summer of 2017 came to a close, I had the fortune of attending a week-long summer school program on Cognitive Architectures at Universität Bielefeld Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) in Germany.
Days were filled with keynote talks on cognitive architectures geared towards applications in robotics from senior researchers who are well-known in their research areas. In the afternoon, we split into subgroups where each group was assigned a robotic platform and a task to complete by the end of the week. I was assigned to Pepper, a humanoid robot from SoftBank Robotics, with the task of having it learn how to play the cup-and-ball game. While the task was rather disconnected from the cognitive architecture theme we saw during the keynote talks, it was still fun and interesting to work with a different robotic platform than what I normally use in my lab.
The best part of this whole experience was the unique networking opportunity. CITEC Summer School drew in around 30 young researchers from not only robotics, but also psychology, biology, linguistics, and other subfields of computer science. The majority of the participants were from European research institutions (I was the only from the U.S.). As such I was able to discuss my research interest and bounce ideas off of people both inside and outside the robotics community as well as promote the ongoing work of the robotics community at UMass Amherst. The relatively small and diverse attendance was definitely unique to the summer school and something you would not normally get to experience from larger, more field-targeted conferences.