Talk focusses on AI, ‘technopreneurship’

Danial Norjidi

Artificial intelligence, (AI), robotics and technopreneurship were among the topics highlighted by Chair of the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) Dr Ayanna Howard during a public lecture yesterday.

The event was jointly organised and hosted by the Embassy of the United States of America in Brunei Darussalam, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) under the US Speaker Programme.

Dr Howard is currently the Linda J and Mark C Smith Professor and has been recognised as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider and one of the Top 50 US Women in Tech by Forbes.

She has made significant contributions in the technology areas of artificial intelligence, computer vision and robotics, and her published research – currently numbering over 250 peer-reviewed publications – has been widely disseminated in international journals and conference proceedings.

Held at the Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences (PAPRSB IHS) Lecture Theatre 2, UBD, the public lecture consisted of two sessions.

In her first session, Dr Howard provided an overview of her journey in the science, technology, engineering and Mathematics  (STEM) world.

Dr Ayanna Howard delivers her lecture. PHOTO: DANIAL NORJIDI

Dr Howard has over 20 years of research and development (R&D) experience covering a number of projects that have been supported by various agencies including, National Science Foundation, Procter and Gamble, the National Aeronotics and Space Administration (NASA), ExxonMobil, Intel and the Grammy Foundation.

She shared experiences and insight from her life at NASA, including the Mars Rover Exploration and the use of rover explorers for glacier environments.

By working at NASA before entering the academic world, she brings a unique perspective to the academic environment.

She further shared eye-opening perspectives on the future of AI and robotics, such as robotics for paediatric healthcare.

In the second session, Dr Howard delivered a lecture on university research and spinoffs and technopreneurship, drawing on her experiences in developing Zyrobotics, LLC, in 2013, a university spin-off which is currently licensing technology derived from her research and has released their first suite of mobile therapy and educational products for children with differing needs.

The session, which saw Dr Howard sharing her journey from laboratory innovations to start-ups, particularly in the area of consumer robotics and novel AI technologies of the future, served as an inspiration to budding research students currently studying in local universities.

The public lecture was in line with UBD’s vision to be a university of innovation and enterprise and UTB’s vision to become a global university impacting society, by contributing to Brunei Vision 2035 through preparing Bruneian youth for employment and achievement in a world that is increasingly competitive and knowledge-based.