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PhD student Conor McGinn gives an invited talk to the public as part of World Space Week

12th November 2013

Space Week

Conor McGinn gives a public talk during World Space Week

PhD student Conor McGinn gave an invited talk to the public on October 10th as part of World Space Week. His talk entitled “ROBONAUTICS: HOW ROBOTS ARE REVOLUTIONISING PLANETARY EXPLORATION”, which gave an overview of the research and challenges in this area, and drew upon his own experiences as a NASA intern, was well received by the audience. Conor has just finished his third year as a graduate student, working on his PhD in Autonomous Robots for Stair-climbing under the supervision of Professor Kevin Kelly in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. Conor’s passion shone through in his presentation, although that won’t come as a surprise to the many student enthusiasts who interact with him in the Trinity Robotics club of which he is founder.

Commenting on the opportunity to address the public, Conor said “It is always nice to be asked to talk about something you are passionate about. I’ve been interested in robotics for as long as I can remember and to have the chance to work/study full-time in this area is great. It is a really challenging but rewarding field, and one whose importance is just going to grow and grow. I work with a lot of people in the research group and in the robotics club who share that passion and I hope that I was able to share some of that in this talk and that maybe some of those younger audience members might join us in a few years!”

Conor’s supervisor, Kevin Kelly, added “It is recognition of Conor’s huge efforts and achievements in this burgeoning field that he was asked to give this talk. Conor is very driven and passionate about his subject matter – as any who have dealings with him will be aware! I think he showed that there is a place for enthusiastic Irish youngsters to engage in this fascinating and growing area, and that they can make a real contribution to international efforts and global challenges. The field is inherently multi-disciplinary and challenging, combining both cutting edge research and practical engineering design. A good example is the Greenland Rover project that Conor worked on during his placement at NASA – in a 10 week timeframe the team were able to design, prototype and test an autonomous vehicle for climate change experimentation in Greenland – something that is now deployed and gathering data.”

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