Robotics History: Narratives and Networks Oral Histories: Ayanna Howard

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Ayanna Howard grew up in Pasadena, California. She then attended Brown University received her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering. Howard attended University of Southern California for her doctorate degree where she wrote her thesis on enabling a robot manipulator to sort out waste for hospitals. During and after her time as a graduate student, Howard worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where she became interested in artificial intelligence and human-robot interaction. After the space shuttle accident at NASA, Howard left Jet Propulsion Laboratory to join Georgia Tech faculty in 2005. At Georgia Tech, she spearheaded the organization of Georgia Tech’s Ph.D program in robotics and founded Zyrobotics, a company that utilizes her research in order to develop therapy and educational products for children with disabilities. Currently, Howard is professor at Georgia Tech, in School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is also involved with the IEEE and Computing Research Association – Women (CRA-W).

In this interview, Ayanna Howard discusses her past and current research, her interest in integrating robots with humans, and her collaboration with children, NASA, colleagues and students. She also gives advice to prospective students who are interested in robotics and talks about the issue of diversity in field of engineering.

  • Published on
  • January 21, 2020

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