King’s College LondonAn academic model for excellence in applied science

An academic model for excellence in applied science

King's College London engineering students

How innovation in teaching and research is driving King’s College London’s pursuit of society‑focused technologies in engineering and informatics

Higher education is evolving apace to meet the scale and urgency of the challenges facing society, with universities tailoring their academic strategies in search of technological innovations that can meet our problems head-on.

King’s College London takes a multidisciplinary approach. The Department of Informatics, led by Professor Luc Moreau, is structured around six research groups and five intersecting hubs: health, finance, security, urban living and trusted autonomous systems. Professor Moreau says the department wants to capitalise on its success in artificial intelligence (AI). It is recruiting for a chair of AI and offering a BSc titled Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence).

“There is barely any discipline that is not touched by AI,” Professor Moreau explains. “Applying AI in these disciplines allows us to tackle new challenges or investigate aspects of the adoption of AI in society. Take the example of connected autonomous vehicles or, in the financial sector, where you have machines making decisions in fractions of seconds, sometimes affecting the stability of the whole system.”

King’s is the lead partner in the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Safe and Trusted Artificial Intelligence. A joint project with Imperial College London, the CDT was established to create the next generation of scientists and engineers responsible for bringing AI-driven technologies to market. “We want to really think in terms of how we can impact society,” says Professor Moreau. “I want people who tackle the really challenging problems that we face now and in the future.”

The Department of Informatics works closely with the recently relaunched Department of Engineering. They share similar approaches, favouring cross-faculty collaborations and partnerships in the public and private sectors to develop new technologies. Led by Professor Barbara Shollock, the Department of Engineering draws on all areas of academic expertise at King’s to drive innovation. “We are lucky to be at King’s,” says Professor Shollock. “We have people who can work with all faculties, from arts and humanities to law, who can help us understand and frame our solutions so they can be successfully used.”

The Department of Engineering is educating a new kind of engineer, one who has the fundamental academic competencies allied to an approach that allows them to create viable technologies. “If we develop solutions within universities, they need to be exploited,” says Professor Shollock. “Students need to understand engineering in a broader sense and context, like how a solution might look within a legal, policy or environmental framework.”

The real-world impact of work at King’s might be found in the world’s first 5G gallery with the National Gallery X studio, in the SpeechWave project, which aims to improve the accuracy of automatic speech recognition using deep learning, or in learning algorithms for neuromorphic chips. These are exciting projects for society, and they similarly resonate on campus. “We need to be enthusing the next generation of engineers,” says Professor Shollock. “This is crucial. After all, today’s engineering undergraduates will be designing tomorrow’s world.”

Find out more about the Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences at King’s College London.

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