School of Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science

From left: Ms Anita Dube, Mr Vernon Kok and Ms Maria Kok Dube celebrate his cum laude graduation.

MSc Focuses on “Training” Robots

After excelling in his previous degrees at Sol Plaatje University, Mr Vernon Kok graduated with his MSc in Computer Science cum laude from UKZN.

Robotics have fascinated Kok from an early age. His thesis entitled A Few-Shot Learning Adaption of Mapless Navigation explored how images can be used to move a robot and how it can be designed and “trained” to explore its environment to find a “goal” while avoiding collisions with obstacles.

During his time in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Kok participated in various NCDev hackathons and served as a tutor and teaching assistant for Machine Learning.

His co-supervisor, Dr Micheal Olusanya of Sol Plaatje University commented: ‘Mr Vernon Kok is a dynamic, focused student with innovative research ideas, especially with regard to robotics.’

Kok is employed as a data scientist at Standard Bank. ‘Aside from my day job, I am exploring how the tools and techniques I focused on in my MSc can be enhanced,’ he said. He is also registered for a PhD at UKZN.

Despite his demanding work schedule and studies, Kok added that he finds time to indulge in gaming.

Words: Leena Rajpal

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal