The Curriculum for the doctoral college TrustRobots reflects the transdisciplinary topic and approach, organises intensive supervision and collaboration of the PhD students, provides possibilities for close work with robots and opportunities for networking as well as being established in the scientific community.
Following the general requirements for PhD studies, the doctoral students will have to select courses for the amount of 18 ECTS points from a list of offered courses. The curriculum proposes to combine common lectures/seminars with a seminar series and open seminars. The curriculum is built up of the following elements (Figure 3):
Figure 3: Overview of the proposed Curriculum "TrustRobots". Fundamentals and Methods introduces common ground in HRI, adds complementary transferable skills (team building, inter/transdisciplinary research, etc.) and an open specialisation. The DC will establish a Seminar Series the will evolve its pattern of the three years. Privatissma go into depth. In addition, extra-curricular measure foster collaboration, creative approaches, and synergies in collaborating in a joint space such as a Living Lab.
Fundamentals and Methods draw from the pool of available lectures at TU Wien. A fundamental aspect of all PhD topics is to operate with a robot and study different notions of trust. Hence, human-robot interaction is essential and will be given to all PhD students of the DC. The course 376.057 Basics in Human-Robot Interaction (Weiss) presents an overview on qualitative and quantitative Human-Robot Interaction evaluation methods, tools and techniques for user involvement. This course covers the most important state-of-the-art research methods including:
To augment the lectures available at TU Wien, we propose to establish the seminar series "Robots, Humans, Trust, and Society". It will be will be especially designed to assure a rapid start into the transdisciplinary topic.
In the beginning of the DC, the series will start out with lectures from the supervising researchers. Invited experts will complement the initial round. For a first list see Section 2.2. The second year we will move more and more to expert talks to selected topics that emerge as relevant for the work of the DC team. We expect to exploit synergies with other projects, workshops or conferences organised in Vienna, or experts invited as reviewer of other PhDs, or specifically applying for travel funding, to cover travel costs. The final year moves on to include the DC colleagues to give their first talks themselves as part of this series. The Seminar Series will be open beyond the DC to all interested.
Privatissima will institutionalize the planned intensive supervision and mentoring. We foresee this at two levels: (1) Group privatissima exploit common aspects of the topics and fundamentals fostering the transdisciplinary education. We will also exploit available common spaces and demos, Living Lab, etc. In addition (2), the individual privatissima deepen research between the supervisor and the PhD candidate. This also adds to the required ECTS points to fulfil the formal requirement. Privatissima will also have the task to lead to publications: a first workshop paper in year one, one or two more substantial papers in year two, leading finally to a journal publication in year three. Due to the collaborative nature of the topic and the DC setup, it is expected that PhD students will also contribute to a few of the papers of colleagues.
These activities comprise relevant aspects for implementing a creative and productive working environment specific to this topic:
We are convinced that the researchers' substantive exposure to the technology they analyse is of fundamental importance. We therefore strive for implementing the DC as Living Lab, in which robots and humans cohabit the same facilities. Particularly for the DC TrustRobots in which we address - on exploratory as well as experimental grounds - fundamental challenges of the implementation of robots into society, it is important, that researchers will not only approach the challenges from a theoretical standpoint. Individual experiences of (trusting) relationships to robots will trigger a reflective and responsible approach to the interesting phenomena.
During our research within TU Wien it has been indicated that the TU would have some available facilities and lab spaces to create a Living Lab. Particularly the library of TU Wien has confirmed interest in collaborating with the DC and providing resources for a Living Lab. Mag. Beate Guba proposed to use one of the group study rooms and the public space on 5th floor of the main library (Resselgasse 4) and will be included in the steering committee to assure that activities will be well planned and communicated. Similarly, the facilities of the Pilot Fabrik TU Wien may be used at least partly as lab facilities for the DC. Furthermore, the Vision for Robotics lab at ACIN will be free after the review of the Squirrel project in Spring 2018.
Although students should spend substantial amounts of time in the Living Labs with sufficient co-working spaces, they should also be integrated in the partners' research groups to maintain high level of individual supervision. The proposed doctoral college offers intense supervision to the students and contains the following formats (see also previous section):
In order to share experience and to discuss possible problems arising, a half-yearly group supervision opportunity will be implemented. This serves to establish connections between students and supervisors transdisciplinary discussion and a joint, transdisciplinary assessment of the students' progress. It is the nucleus to set-up and evaluate the joint work in the Living Lab. It also serves to provide a basis for crisis management.
Apart from that, we will organize one joint workshop per semester for all members of the DC (students and supervisors) to regularly exchange ideas, show individual progresses, and provide the chance to discuss open issues in a larger group of researchers working on related topics. These workshops will also provide the basis for the planning of joint publications. By building several smaller teams with similar interest, it is intended that students learn to organize themselves as well as to learn teamwork and the typical language used by other students in related fields. The transdisciplinary education is a major advantage offering expert knowledge in different but related fields and thus broadening the scope of all participants.
Additionally to the content related meetings, we will have one meeting a year in which we reflect on different epistemological approaches to robotics research from different disciplines. The thorough reflection of one's own and other's disciplinary approaches, research methods and applied tools and technology requires openness and flexibility of all DC members but will allow for cross-fertilization and mutual learning within the DC. We plan to invite philosophy of science experts to coach us through the project meetings dedicated to the reflective transdisciplinary approach.
An excellent opportunity for students to be introduced to the scientific robotics, HRI, and related communities is to provide them access to the research networks the research partners have developed over the years. Several measures incorporate this aspect into the curriculum:
Additional doctoral college activities will be organized supplementing students education. These activities are designed to lead students to becoming independent members of the scientific community as well as cooperating on a doctoral college level with each other. In this process, students are expected to grow into the tasks expected of them in scientific workplaces:
Robotics research is a core science discipline as it brings together various engineering disciplines by stating multifaceted problems. Hence, it is constantly triggering demand for research and development in many other science disciplines.
The proposed doctoral college provides the opportunity to create a new public visible centre of robotics and the consequences of future societies including robots in Vienna at the TU Wien. As already outlined above, students will be integrated into the individual research teams and join the living lab and group Privatissima to profit from synergies of a large group of working on a common topic (see Figure 3). While the integration at the individual team allows to dig deep into specific research topics, the Living Lab approach will foster a better understanding of the socio-economic and cultural aspects of integrating robots into our society.
Additionally, we take advantage of ongoing initiatives at TU Wien. Collaboration with the Vienna PhD School of Informatics will provide further synergies and benefits to our doctoral students, ranging from specialized courses (such as a recently established course on scientific proposal writing organized by the PhD School of Informatics and TU's Research and Transfer Support Department) to social events (for example, organized museum visits) that are particularly targeting international students.
Furthermore, TrustRobots will be tied closely with the TU Pilot Factory in order to create synergies with respect to fundamental research and industrial application. The Pilot Factory will be a test bed for some of the work of the DC and will also provide a stage for possible demonstrator and showcase applications.
TrustRobots will further establish and deepen inter-facultative exchange, foster junior researchers to create a new science culture and methodology that has not been possible at TU Wien so far: studying in depth and in wider context and transdisciplinarity and experience teamwork in small, highly supervised research groups as well as a open living lab to actually live the challenge of transdisciplinary research in robotics.
The doctoral college will contribute to producing a new generation of scientists who have transdisciplinary skills and knowledge required to develop new solutions to acute problems in robot technology. Due to their transdisciplinary training, these scientists will be open-minded, flexible, and capable of taking a holistic perspective on a broad range of issues in robotics. They will be able to serve as mediators between engineers, human factors researchers and users, provided with the necessary communication skills to bridge engineering and humanities disciplines.
In addition to the domain-specific skills and methodologies, students will be provided with a thorough training in transferable skills that equip them with the necessary competencies for academic careers as well as for successful careers in industry. These comprise courses in the subject's general research methods and scientific writing, research presentation skills, time management, team working skills, standardization, grant application and leadership skills, as well as gender and ethical skills.
Example courses from the TU Wien LVA appropriate for the DC are listed below (if not yet available in English, but relevant for the DC students, courses may be given in English):
Due to the exposure to various formats of individual and joint supervision, reflective meetings and methodological support at an international level with the DC we expect that graduates will not only develop team interaction and communications skills, but also profound competencies to reflect on the methodological foundation of PhD research as well as on the qualitative and quantitative methods in their particular research field and related fields.
In summary, the students will acquire - apart from methodological and technical skills and know how in the respective research discipline - competencies in the following areas:
In principle, the PhD studies will follow the research plan outlined in Table 1. The coursework covers fundamentals and selected topics of the related research areas along with transferable skills, as described in detail in Section 2. An important part of each student's research activities during the first year will be the preparation of the PhD research proposal. The proposal will be submitted and publicly defended towards the end of the first year and receive scientific feedback from the supervisor group and expert panel (see the college's overall structure in Figure 6). Throughout the dissertation process, our doctoral college will follow the principal guidelines set up by TU Wien regarding structured doctoral programs, for example, regarding the selection of independent external reviewers for the final thesis evaluation and defense.
Table 1: Three-year research plan for doctoral students.
|1st semester||2nd semester|
|3rd semester||4th semester|
|5th semester||6th semester|