- Robotics Undergraduate Program
- Undergraduate Robotics Pathways and Careers Speaker Series
Undergraduate Robotics Pathways and Careers Speaker Series
Answering the question of “What can I do with a robotics degree?”
The Robotics Pathways and Careers Speaker Series (RPCSS) invites professionals working in robotics to come talk with current undergraduates about their career path, how a background in robotics has impacted their professional growth, and what they hope to see in students looking to enter the profession.
The RPCSS is held every other Thursday evening from 5:30-7pm on the campus of the University of Michigan in 1050 FMCRB.
The 90-minute format of the event will consist of a 30 minute presentation from the invited speaker and up to 60 minutes of moderated Q&A and discussion. Students will be able to participate in person or remotely. Each seminar will be available via Zoom.
September 8, 2022
Manufacturing Automation – A Look towards the Future
Robotics Research Supervisor, Ford Motor Company
The next generation of manufacturing will be driven by advances in process automation for all areas of manufacturing – material delivery, inventory management, assembly, cleaning, inspection, fleet management, smart infrastructure, and facility mapping. Areas such as material handling are growing extremely fast outside of automotive, largely driven by warehouse and delivery management from online ordering businesses, enabled by advances in key robotics technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, batteries, wireless communication, sensors, perception and control algorithms, and open-source software frameworks. This talk will elaborate on the current and future states of advanced manufacturing within the automotive industry and my journey to get there.
Mario Santillo received the B.S. degree in Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2003, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2005 and 2009, respectively. Mario currently leads the robotics research efforts within Ford Motor Company’s Research & Advanced Engineering Organization, where he focuses on the development and application of advanced control methods and artificial intelligence algorithms to next-generation robotic technologies in manufacturing and package-delivery automation.
September 22, 2022
Mobile Robotics in the Wild: From Marine Robotics to Automated Driving
SVP, Human-Centered AI, Human Interactive Driving, and Tech Adoption
I will cover my career journey in the field of mobile robotics. I started off in the area of simultaneous localization and planning (SLAM) for my PhD work as applied in the area of marine robotics. This then grew into working with Autonomous Underwater Vehicles for automated ship hull inspection as well as marine science. I then moved into perception, planning, and prediction for automated driving and have spent over 15 years working in the area.
Along my journey, my personal philosophy toward my career has been: First – Follow serendipity, Second – Luck favors the prepared, and Finally – Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This talk will cover my career journey and insights into how that philosophy has led me through it.
Dr. Ryan Eustice is a Professor at the University of Michigan (UM) and the Senior Vice President of Human-Centered AI, Human Interactive Driving, and Tech Adoption at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI). Dr. Eustice received a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Ocean Engineering in 2005 and was a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. He joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 2006 in the Department of Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering. He also holds an appointment as a core Robotics faculty member in the newly formed Robotics Department and remains the Director of the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory (PeRL) at UM. Dr. Eustice is perhaps best known for his work in advancing large-scale simultaneous localization and mapping, including visual mapping of the RMS Titanic. He has published over 160 technical papers, is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award and ONR Young Investigator Award, has been an Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Robotics, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, and IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, and is widely cited in the mobile robotics literature. He was a core member of Team IVS in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge (one of 11 finalist teams). He worked collaboratively with Ford Motor Company for over a decade in self-driving vehicle research as a PI at the University of Michigan before going on leave in 2016 to launch TRI and lead the Automated Driving Division prior to taking on his current role at TRI since May 2022.
October 6, 2022
Amazon Robotics AI senior principal technologist
Fault detection, Isolation and Response (FDIR) as well as Safety for critical autonomous systems is highly ambiguous given that standards are being written as we are developing products and the process to certify them. Defining the FDIR and safety systems for these products becomes even more complex when they are operating in an unstructured environment able to move freely amongst and/or provide critical services for people. In this talk Nia Jetter will discuss her journey through 20 years as an Aerospace Engineer specializing in Autonomy and AI and her current career in Robotics at Amazon. She will also present a framework for architecting autonomy for critical systems independent of product and focused on how the user interacts with the product.
Nia Jetter is passionate about changing the world through innovation, technology planning, teaching, mentoring and solving tough problems in Autonomy and AI that can be applied across different platforms. She has a dedicated focus on helping people who may not have easy access to educational materials to understand topics like artificial intelligence. Nia is enthusiastic about working the human-AI interface as artificial intelligence is further integrated into our society.
Nia is an Aerospace Engineer who has 20 years of experience in the Aerospace Industry and has supported a variety of programs across the product-lifecycle from design and development to mission and anomaly resolution and through customer delivery and support. In January 2021, Nia left the Aerospace Industry as a Technical Fellow to join Amazon as a Senior Principal Technologist for Robotics AI. In this role she is a leader in technical development for autonomy as well as strategic planning for robotics and other autonomous applications.
Nia has a bachelor’s degree in Math with Computer Science and a minor in Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences from MIT as well as a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Stanford. Nia enjoys reading (especially science fiction), astronomy, baking, travelling, dancing and creating short videos that break down complex topics like AI and explains them simply for her YouTube channel (Thinque Bytes). For more information, please see her website: www.niajetter.com.
October 20, 2022
Robotics for NASA Exploration Missions
Acting Deputy, ISS Systems Engineering & Integration Office
Dr. Hambuchen will discuss needs for robotics in future NASA missions, including the upcoming Artemis missions; current and previous technology development to meet these needs; and how academic and commercial space technology development is closing NASA robotics exploration gaps. Dr. Hambuchen will highlight robotics for NASA’s human exploration objectives, with a focus on the operation environments that are unique to NASA.
Dr. Kimberly Hambuchen currently serves as the acting Deputy Manager for the Systems Engineering and Integration Office of the International Space Station Program. As SE&I deputy manager, she oversees the performance of the ISS including robotics, modeling, safety, and mission success. Previously, she served as the chief of the Robotic Systems Technology Branch at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where she directed the development of advanced robotic technologies for space exploration missions. Prior to this, she was the Principal Technologist for Robotics in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s (STMD) serving as the STMD technical expert and advocate for robotics across all NASA centers for STMD programs. During her 20-year career as a robotics engineer at Johnson Space Center, Dr. Hambuchen developed human-robot interaction techniques and tools for the Robonaut and Centaur robots, the Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV), and bipedal humanoid, Valkyrie (R5), among many others. Dr. Hambuchen was a member of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group’s (ISECG) Telerobotics Gap Assessment team, providing gap analysis in the field of operating space robots for the international space community, and in 2016 was named “One of the 25 Women in Robotics to Know” by RoboHub.
November 3, 2022
From TW to US and EE to Robotics
Software Engineer, Google
Do you want to know how a foreigner comes to the US to study Robotics, cracks all the FAANG interviews, and then becomes a roboticist working at Google? Are you also wondering how an interview process looks like and how to prepare for the interview? Come check it out and we will show you how!
Bruce earned his Ph.D. in Robotics at the University of Michigan (UofM), Ann Arbor. He received a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at National Taiwan University and an MS degree in Robotics at U-M in 2018. He worked in the Biped Robotics Lab under the supervision of Professor Jessy W. Grizzle. His research focused on autonomy of bipedal robots, encompassing sensor fusion, pose estimation, and motion planning. He was in charge of building a full stack of autonomy pipeline for the system integration of Cassie Blue, a bipedal robot with 20 degrees of freedom.
November 17, 2022
Move Fast and Brake For Things
Tech Lead L3 Autonomy,
A quick overview of my career in robotics ranging from unicorn start ups to big companies featuring lessons learned the easy and hard way.
I got my Master’s from the UofM in Robotics and Autonomous Vehicles back in 2012 and after that I started my PhD soon after started collaborating with Cruise Automation in 2015. I was with Cruise working on the planning stack as it grew from 15-20 people all the way up through the acquisition into the 2000-ish people company in 2020. After that, I had a small stint at Robust AI working on collaborative robotics. Nowadays I’m at Nvidia – back in the AV world! – where I lead the Low Speed Maneuvers Group that deals with driving around in unstructured environments close to people and objects!
December 1, 2022
From Robotics to Finance: A Fun Journey
Research Scientist, JP Morgan AI Research
I will share my career journey in robotics, and how I become a research scientist at J.P. Morgan, while continuing to contribute to robotics. I started off in computer vision during undergrad. Soon I came to realize robotics is my true passion where perception and action come together to close the loop. I focused on perception for manipulation and active vision for object retrieval during my Ph.D., and have been continuing my robotics research through collaborations with Prof. Chad Jenkins. At J.P. Morgan AI Research, I have been finding more connections between Robotics and Finance and promoting the presence of women in AI. I will share insights that helped me through my journey. And I would like to quote Dr. Fauci, “expect the unexpected and stay heads up for an unanticipated opportunity should it present itself.”
Dr. Zhen Zeng is currently an AI Research Scientist on the AI Research team at J.P. Morgan. Her research interests are semantic robot programming, perception for mobile manipulation, and novel representations of financial data. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2020. She worked in the Laboratory for Progress with her advisor Prof. Chad Jenkins. Her research focused on enabling users to program the world through a mobile agent through robot programming by demonstration, semantic mapping, and active vision. Her research motivation is rooted in assisting people with impaired physical mobility to live independent lives with dignity. At J.P. Morgan AI Research, she works on unique ways of visually interpreting financial data and activities, and is active in promoting the presence of women in the field of AI.