NYUAD students learn robotics to virtually transform the handling of cargo

Summer course in partnership with Etihad Cargo taught students the ins and outs of robotics.

NYUAD students take part in a four-week summer course in partnership with Etihad Cargo. Courtesy NYUAD
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Students from New York University Abu Dhabi this week completed an intensive four-week summer course in partnership with Etihad Cargo.
The business, engineering and pre-law students came from all New York University's degree-granting campuses – eight from NYU Abu Dhabi, three from NYU Shanghai, and one from NYU New York. 
Taught at NYU Abu Dhabi by Christian Grewell, assistant professor of interactive media arts at NYU Shanghai, the Driving Genius course provided students with the ins and outs of robotics, programing and design principles.
The course included training on the technical know-how needed to develop products that cater to the airline cargo industry, which is where Etihad Cargo stepped in as a partner. 
Using augmented reality, virtual reality and sensory technology to design products, the course taught students to take the process further, training them how to draw up successful business plans for their products. 
It also covered topics such as design thinking, human-computer interaction patterns and explored "the fundamental building blocks of augmented reality applications".
Working with Etihad Cargo, students were given the chance to design, develop and test technology-enhanced solutions to business challenges. 
Participants had access to Etihad Cargo's warehouse operations to develop a practical understanding of how things work so they could identify processes where inefficiencies could be improved.
The students were split into three groups and tasked with designing and developing  solutions to problems using virtual technology.
"It's about establishing a partnership where students gain everything they would from a traditional course, including the opportunity to test their models in the real-world 'laboratory' of the organisation," Mr Grewell said.
At the end of the four weeks, the students presented four prototypes to Etihad Cargo's senior vice president, David Kerr, and head of cargo handling, Robert Fordee.
The prototypes included Cargie, a load-carrying robot capable of machine learning; Paper Trail, an app to track airway bills and cargo documents; Viz360, a virtual training app; and HoloCargo, a 3-D scanning and virtual reality system that can help loadmasters build pallets of boxes in a 3-D environment.
They also walked away with the skills to propose, enact and manage change across a modern organisation.
"We came up with ideas for people not just in executive positions, but in line-level operational roles. That's an invaluable experience for students when combined with the work we do in the lab and classroom," Mr Grewell said.