VIBOT/VICOT: an amalgam of robots and students

Being an Erasmus Mundus master’s programme, in the VIBOT master’s course three universities converge: the University of Girona, the University of Burgundy and Heriot-Watt University. The VIBOT embraces the expertise of three leading European research groups in computer vision and robotics. Together, they provide knowledge to students, both for their research work and for their professionalization.

As soon as one reads the word robot, one recalls all sorts of pictures from the cinema and literature. Loyal or rebel robots, according to the needs of each story. Nobody can deny that the amalgam of knowledge that forged the robot is as complex and diverse as the imagination of the best human talent. Because a robot is a highly complex device, whether it takes the form of the replicant in Blade Runner, or it is an automatic system which analyzes hundreds of medical images and helps doctors improve a diagnosis of breast cancer, for instance. Precisely this computer vision applied to medical imaging is one of the expertise areas of the VICOROB research group at the UdG, as well as underwater vision and robotics and mobile robotics. Along with research groups related with the universities of Burgundy -the Le2i- and Edinburgh -the Oceans Systems Laboratory-, it offers the Joint Master’s in Computer Vision and Robotics, VIBOT, which, for its quality and expertise, has now had the Erasmus Mundus Masters (MEM) qualification from the EU for six years.

International benchmark for robotic vision
The VIBOT is a benchmark in its genre. For example, in Spain, there are no other programmes in this field whit a similar rating. Every year, it receives over four hundred applications for registration, so as to access the grant system from which the master’s course benefits being a MEM. However, only eighteen are selected after going through a very strict filter: applicants need to be endorsed by two lecturers, and they must submit a persuasive motivation letter and a truly brilliant CV. “We are sure that many very good students are not admitted in the master’s course, we are not infallible, but there is such a high demand that we must make a selection”, said Robert Martí, coordinator of the VIBOT at the UdG. Most students come from outside the EU, and over the two years master’s they have the chance to get to know each other quite well. They are, as Martí says, “the VIBOT family”. When considering them individually, the coordinator describes them as competitive youngsters, and also highly motivated for work, which makes their course marks be above the average. “They always give more than you had expected”, he says. The master’s being bi-annual (120 ECTS), it enables veterans to encourage newcomers with their experience. That is a relationship which is revealed on VIBOT Day, when graduating students meet with those who are in their second semester of the first year and, while the former read their research projects, the latter follow the example, and all of them come in contact with the representatives of the robotics and computer vision industries who are invited to the event. Graduating students aim to assure their future employment and the ones in their first year try to find an interesting project in which they can developed their research work in the following year. The issue about work placement is one of the major achievements of the master’s, since a month after graduation sixty percent of students have found a job, and six months later, a hundred percent.

The VICOT, an open option
In addition to VIBOT, the UdG offers, jointly with the University of Burgundy, the VICOT. As for tuition and research there is no difference between the VICOT and the VIBOT. The coordinator of the VICOT, Arnau Oliver, explains that only a slight administrative difference separates them: the fact that the VICOT not having the MEM qualification makes it a more open and affordable option for those who have not been able to access the Erasmus Mundus grant programme.

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