5 June 2006

Forget X-men robots with super-human powers, PhD student Michael Milford is proving that Homo sapiens can do anything they put their mind to.

The 24-year-old University of Queensland robotics and artificial intelligence student is taking inspiration from his super-human subject matter, finding time not only to study for his PhD, but also to publish educational textbooks for school children and complete the odd marathon in his spare time.

Mr Milford has just finished the Complete School package, which is on sale at Dymocks bookshops. The high school educational resource, which includes textbooks and DVDs, covers the entire school Mathematics and English curriculum.

“I like to challenge myself. I wanted to do something that nobody had come close to trying before so I came up with the idea of an ultimate educational resource for high school students,” he said.

“I wanted to create, in one package, something that would cover not only all of high school English and Mathematics but also skills a modern student needs such as researching using the Internet.”

Mr Milford expects to complete his PhD in July. His research is looking at how rats function in their environment and applying this to robotics with the aim of creating a robot that can move around its environment intelligently.

“Specifically we are looking at getting a robot to explore an unknown environment autonomously, create a map of that environment so it can navigate from A to B and getting it to adapt to changes in its environment,” he said.

The technology can be used in any situation where you need a robot or moving vehicle to have some level of autonomy.

“We are trying to create robots that can think and function intelligently and reactively to their environment.”

Mr Milford said he hoped to further his research in the area of robotics after completing his PhD. He will also spend more time promoting the Complete School package.

He said it had been a super-human effort to combine both his PhD and work on the educational resource along with his marathon running – he was second in the Australian University Championships.

“I think if you are really pushing yourself your concurrent activities can feed off each other and you actually make more time for yourself. I think you also make your time more worthwhile,” he said.

Mr Milford, who graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering with first class honours in 2002, has already had success with his first two textbooks Not a C Minus and Painless Physics, which have sold more than 5000 copies around Australia.

Information: visit www.completeschool.com.au or email michael@completeschool.com.au

Media: For more information, contact Michael Milford (telephone 0412 944 682, email michael@completeschool.com.au) or Chris Saxby at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 2479, email c.saxby@uq.edu.au).