Norwich   Engineering   Society
3 December 2018
Talk entitled "How to wreck a nice beach-Computers and Speech recognition"
19.30 at the Holiday Inn

by Prof.Stephen Cox, School of Computing Sciences, UEA

Summary: For many years, it is been a dream of science fiction authors to speak to machines that understand you: "Open, sesame”. The first serious efforts towards this goal were made in the early days of computers in the 1960s and optimism was high then that the goal was easily within reach.

The next 40 years were a period of disillusionment and slow progress as we learnt how difficult the task of automatic speech recognition (ASR) actually was. It was not too hard to engineer systems that worked well on a small vocabulary, with a small number of speakers, and within a quiet environment, but these systems were of limited use in the real world and were also very fragile. Despite the efforts of hundreds of researchers all over the world, ASR was seen as a technology that was always promising but never delivering, but at least it kept us amused with its gaffes.

In practice, performance increased slowly in all areas from the 1980s through the 2000s, but in the last 10 years or so, the application of so-called “deep learning” techniques has made ASR a really useful technology at last.

In this talk, I will begin by describing the nature of the speech signal and of language, and hence why ASR is such a difficult task for machines. I will then describe briefly the history of ASR techniques, beginning with early efforts that used dynamic time warping, through hidden Markov modelling and finally to techniques of deep learning. The descriptions will be practical ones with a minimum of mathematics and a maximum of illustration. I will end by considering where this technology might go next and what the implications for artificial intelligence in general are.

17 December 2018
Talk entitled "Airline Passenger Communication to Land based systems."
19.30 at the Holiday Inn

by Steve Nicholls, International Flight Journalist

Summary: Not yet available

28 January 2019
Talk entitled "Development of radio communications during WW1"
19.30 at the Holiday Inn

by Richard Aldridge, NES Member

Summary: This talk is a 'follow on' from my talk on the devlopment of various technologies in the Great War(1914-1918). In that talk I skimmed over the use of radio during this conflict.

It is my intention to discuss how the technology impacted on the various branches of the armed services; both the Royal Air Force(Army's Royal Flying Corps prior to April 1918) and the Royal Navy were enthusiastic users whereas the Army, in general, was very reluctant.

4 February 2019
Talk entitled "Passive House: theory and practice"
19.30 at the Holiday Inn

by Martyn Newton, Independent Consultant and NES Member

Summary: Available in not too distant future

18 February 2019
Talk entitled "Understanding Space and Time (Joint with IET)"
19.30 at the Holiday Inn

by Prof. Mick Mehler, University of Birmingham

Summary: Our modern understanding of Space and Time has evolved since Galileo's time from a simple intuitive flat geometry to that of curved spacetime envisaged by Einstein.

This presentation explains how our understanding has evolved through the contributions made by Newton, Maxwell and Einstein. Numerous experimental results are presented, culminating in the detection of gravitational waves in 2016, all of which have been key to placing the theory on a solid foundation. The material is presented chronologically and, although some mathematical content is unavoidable, the presentation aims to explain the principles with a minimum of mathematics to an non-specialist audience.

4 March 2019
Talk entitled "Undergraduate Engineering at UEA"
19.30 at the Holiday Inn

by Dr Kathryn Coventry/Prof L Coates, University of East Anglia

Summary: (Provisional)Dr Coventry, Undergaraduate Course Director, will talk about the new undergraduate engineering course at UEA. She will give an overview of the course's aims, its teaching/learning methods and intended outputs.

18 March 2019
Talk entitled "I K Brunel - Engineer (Joint with the IET)"
19.30 at the Holiday Inn

by Tony Meacock, NES Member

Summary: An historical review of some of Brunel’s many projects which included tunnels, bridges, the GWR and ships, including some contemporary illustrations.

25 March 2019
19.30 at the Holiday Inn


Summary: Formal business followed by two or three Members' talks.