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World's Science Experts to 'Go Beyond' at NZ International Science Festival

  • 12 Jun 2018

UK space industry engineer Siân Cleaver, Aeronautics expert Karen Willcox, Scottish .NET developer Ally Watson, US biomechanics expert Malcolm MacIver, and the latest interactive NAO robot from China are just some of the international guests headlining this year’s New Zealand International Science Festival.

Held in Dunedin July 6-15, the biennial Festival welcomes an exciting line-up of talent from New Zealand and around the world with more than 200 events built around the theme ‘Go Beyond’ to be held over the week at 24 locations across the city.

“We’re extremely excited to be bringing some of the world’s top experts in a range of fields to Dunedin to take part in this year’s Festival,” says New Zealand International Science Festival Director Dan Hendra. “We’ll be offering Festival goers a diverse, fun-fuelled, inspiring lineup of events – from hands-on workshops for kids and families to talks and seminars aimed at sharing the very latest from the world of science. This is your opportunity to ‘go beyond’, build knowledge and have a whole lot of fun.”

Siân Cleaver, a Principle Mission Systems Engineer at Airbus at Stevenage in the UK, works on the design and development of future European Space Agency exploration missions, such as Solar Orbiter, a spacecraft that will fly close to the Sun.

Computer programmer Ally Watson (pictured), named by the Sydney Morning Herald as one of Australia’s nine most influential female entrepreneurs of 2017, is co-founder of the highly acclaimed ‘Code Like a Girl’, an Australian organisation set out to inspire a new generation of girls to acquire coding as a skill through workshops and events.
Karen Wilcox, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Co-Director of the Center for Computational Engineering, MIT, leads two large research projects for the U.S. Air Force to develop methods for the design of future aircraft and drones.

Malcolm MacIver is a director of the Neuroscience and Robotics Laboratory at Northwestern University, where he is Professor with joint appointments between Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, and an additional appointment in the Department of Neurobiology (courtesy). His work focuses on ways that complex animal behaviour can be applied to making advance biorobotic systems.

The Festival will also host the NAO V6 – an engaging, multi-interactive 5.4kg humanoid robot that has travelled from China for its southern hemisphere debut in Dunedin.
NAO has an interaction-focused operating system supported by 50 inbuilt sensors, 2 HD cameras and 4 directional microphones. NAO can fall over and get up by himself. He can see, talk, walk, dance and recognise people.
Also featuring in this year’s Festival is internationally renowned Australian science educator Dr Ken Silburn, Emmy Award-winning US filmmaker Kristin Pichaske, Norway-based Kiwi VR and health games developer Simon McCallum, Hawaiian navigator Chadd Paishon, TV psychologist Nigel Latta, The Dunedin Study’s Professor Richie Poulton, Maori astronomer Dr Rangi Matamua, choreographer Louise Potiki Bryant and Ian Taylor and Kylie Robinson from local tech firms Animation Research and Igtimi. Also returning to Dunedin is popular Australian science performer Graham Walker – who will open the weekend’s line-up with two public workshops and shows.

Festival tickets go on sale next week and the full programme will be available online from Thursday June 14. Go to www.scifest.org.nz for more details.

The New Zealand International Science Festival is funded by the Dunedin City Council, the University of Otago and the Otago Community Trust.


To arrange interviews with guests or for more information contact: Amie Richardson NZ International Science Festival Publicist M: 027 248 6478 E: amie.richardson@xtra.co.nz

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