New club hopes to increase membership, explore psychology through robotics

November 28, 2016

Kyle Guthrie

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     The Futurism Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Club, a robotics research organization on campus hopes to learn more about human and robotic learning through reverse engineering this semester.

     The club currently has around 40 members. Robert Wickersham, president of the FAIR club, said he hopes to reach 100 members by the end of the spring semester to reach the club’s goals.

     FAIR hopes to move forward with its new members after establishing their tech team, said Wickersham.

     “We are also moving toward getting all of our meetings broadcasted for online forums so people can engage with the club without being at UCCS,” he said.

     Students in the FAIR club are broken up into three groups that do different projects.

     The first group, called “outreach,” encourages outside sources, including from other countries, to share their robots for FAIR research. The group hopes that companies will donate advanced robots for learning purposes, according to Brinkman.

     The second group, also known as the hardware group, is dedicated to learning how to build the robots and understand their design.

     The third group is the programming group, which focuses on the programming required to study robotic interventions and coding purposes.

     Wickersham, second-year clinical psychology doctorate student and president of FAIR, created the club as part of his dissertation after meeting a robotics representative at the American Psychological Association convention in Denver.

     While robotic research being conducted in the U.S. seems impressive, other countries have much more comprehensive programs dedicated to the field, according to Wickersham.

     “There is not a lot of robotic research being done in the U.S., but there is in countries like Germany and Korea and Japan with more advanced robotics programs,” said Wickersham.

     “(Japan is) basically doing a more advanced Ferbie sort of thing, like something that responds when you interact with them. This was a much more useful and tactical use of robotics for older people with dementia.”

     Interventions, when a robot is programmed to modify its actions, are being conducted to study what robots can learn, according to junior physics major Jesse Brinkman, FAIR club vice president.

     “What we are doing is starting to watch where these robots can go and applying that information into all kinds of other areas,” said Brinkman.

     Students interested in the club do not need engineering skills to join. An enthusiasm for technology and robotics is enough, according to Wickersham and Brinkman.

     “If you’re interested in future technology or this advanced sort of artificial intelligence then just stop by and say hi. We would love to have anybody willing to see it,” said Brinkman.

     “Anybody that joins our club will be able to put that on the resume which is a really good opportunity,” said Wickersham.

     Students interested in joining the club can visit their Mountain Lion Connect page.