Michigan Robotics is committed to providing its members with an environment filled with integrity, enthusiasm, and respect. All of its members will value one another based on scientific ability and contributions to the community, and not on one’s appearance, gender identity or expression, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, nationality, relationship status, or any other characteristic.
The three values of Michigan Robotics
In order to achieve our desired community, we call on all members to be helpful to others, and adhere to the following values:
Robotics with respect
Treating one another with respect means understanding that we each bring an array of skills and perspectives to our community. It also means understanding that our respective roles can impose more responsibility on, and in practice, give more power to, specific members. Those “empowered” members of our community must be especially cognizant of the even higher standard of conduct that is required of that role, and understand the sense of vulnerability that members with less power, especially students, may feel. Students, our most cherished members, deserve our highest respect.
As roboticists, we also have the opportunity to serve society with our work, and especially people considered part of more vulnerable populations or those from non-majority groups. This work, the hardware and software that compose our robots, acts as an extension of our own values. As such, we need to ensure that our designs, programming, building, testing, and the actual function of our robots treat humans and human interactions with respect.
Enthusiasm can look different for each person. It might mean working on code to share with an online community, or teaching robotics at an event attended by 70,000 grade schoolers. Both represent vital work that strengthens the Michigan Robotics community and robotics in general. This also means taking initiative to reach out to one another and offer our varied expertise and experience, which results in both more robust robotics and roboticists.
Integrity in action
As any field of technology, robotics has the leverage to greatly shape our future, and our honest, fair, and ethical actions here will help such behavior become the expectation everywhere. Especially in robotics, where fiction can intertwine with what has actually been achieved in a lab, it is important to report our actual success and failure. Even outside of the lab, integrity is vital in our work, and while it might be tested by others’ demands or actions, we must adhere to what is right.
These three tenets, robotics with respect, enthusiastic outreach, and integrity in action, are what the Robotics Institute works toward, complementing the College of Engineering’s values while pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Practicing our values
Activities in which we participate that exemplify these values include:
- Requiring sexual and gender-based misconduct training for faculty and staff, and encouraging it for students
- Designing an assisted-listening system into our new building
- Students volunteering at the Michigan Engineering Zone, K-12 outreach with YMCA, Scouts troops, and Xplore Engineering camps
- Outreach at the annual conferences for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, and Society of Women Engineers
- Coordinating with the FIRST Alumni & Mentors Network at Michigan and performing outreach at FIRST Robotics events
- Open-source datasets and code from our labs
- Open-source hardware from our labs
- Placing preprints on the arXiv for fast, free distribution
- Course on Ethics in Robotics
- Many, many research projects across our focus areas that aim to treat the humans in the loop, and out, with respect
- Staff participating in DE&I professional development courses
And building on them
Living one’s values is a never-ending process, requiring constant growth and learning. We won’t always get it right, but we will always learn from our mistakes. As a fairly new entity, we don’t have enough experience to know if these are the most impactful principles and activities, so we will iterate and improve upon them as we continue to learn. Most importantly, we will listen openly to our members so as to improve both values and actions for our community as we grow.