The Government's Minister for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson, visited the School of Electronics and Computer Science today.
Lord Drayson was in Southampton for the historic meeting of the Cabinet in the City and was able to take the opportunity to visit the University after the Cabinet meeting was over.
In the new Mountbatten Building, a £100M investment in UK science and technology, he toured the clean rooms and labs with Professor Peter Ashburn and Professor David Payne and heard about the new equipment that will enable new research in nanotechnology and photonics.
Lord Drayson has a PhD in robotics, so he was especially interested in a display of student projects on robotics by Rob Spanton, Chris Cross and Adam Malpass, including the Formica swarm robots which were built in the Biologically Inspired Robotics course in Electronic Engineering, and the Student Robotics challenge, which students run in sixth form schools and colleges in Hampshire. He was also able to hear about Dr Klaus-Peter Zauner's research into biochips.
ECS was successful in being awarded two Doctoral Training Centres - in Complex Systems Simulation and in Web Science, and Lord Drayson heard more about these centres from Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Professor Nigel Shadbolt, and Dr Seth Bullock.
In a session that included a number of students from science and engineering departments of the University, including Reena Pau, Adam Malpass, Chris Cross, Medhavi Kapil and David Reed from ECS, Lord Drayson was keen to find out about their inspiration in taking science and engineering at University and about their experiences at school.
'We were delighted to able to welcome Lord Drayson to ECS,' said Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Deputy Head of School for Research. 'He was clearly very impressed by the projects he saw here and the prospects for their successful future development.'
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