The Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotic Lab (MPCR) is dedicated to applying, creating, and merging cutting edge technology across all disciplines. It is equally centered in the generation of high-impact STEM projects and investing in students from all levels to equip as many researchers as possible with the latest computational advancements. MPCR is an unconventional lab that is in many ways built from the ground up. Projects are by-and-large the students’ creation, which results in a highly interdisciplinary, and deeply engaged lab. It is not uncommon for high school students hoping to major in neuroscience or math to work alongside and as equals to PhD candidates from the psychology and the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences.
We are housed in the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at Florida Atlantic University, but welcome students from any discipline. Being integrated in the College of Science allows us to welcome faculty from many departments and while fostering a relationship with the College of Computer Science and Engineering. We aim to be the Center for Deep Learning at FAU, in South Florida, and on a global stage.
From its foundation, MPCR has been invested in Deep Neural Networks (DNNs). What began as using these brain-inspired models to investigate brain-like behavior has evolved into contributions both to the science and the applications of Deep Learning. Our Core Research Team has developed computationally sophisticated algorithms, developed novel data pipelines, and continues to push non-data science fields to adopt this powerful analysis tool. Our work has been presented at a Neuro Inspired Computational Elements Workshop, NVIDEA’s GPU Technology Conferences (GTC), and an International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition.
MPCR explores worlds beyond the physical to open new doors for researchers, scientists, and developers. We are gaining momentum with our VR/AR team which is equipped with an HTC Vive System and Magic Leap unit. Virtual and augmented reality is becoming an invaluable tool that MPCR investigates as well as uses in various research projects. We have developers on both systems making strides in VR and AR, while looking at ways to incorporate this technology beyond the traditional development platform.
MPCR has an open-door policy and the process to become involved is very unstructured and informal. We want there to be as few obstacles for passionate students to join us as possible. We welcome students of all ages and currently have Core Research Team members as young as 8th grade. We are fortunate that FAU High School prioritizes early research experiences, as we have some exceptional student researchers that have come from that program. In addition, we aim to involve the community in educational activities to begin to familiarize the general public with Deep Learning. We have had multiple exhibits at local science museums, been invited to give talks to elementary and middle schools, and offer a Summer Short Course for those who are enthusiastic to apply Deep Learning.
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