Joshua Mangelson earns Robotics Alumni Award

October 23, 2023

Over homecoming, Dr. Joshua Mangelson received the 2023 Robotics Department Alumni Merit Award. As part of the homecoming visit, Dr. Mangelson presented the Robotics Alumni Award Lecture, “Steps Towards Intelligent Large-Scale Marine Robotic Autonomy,” for the robotics community.

Dr. Mangelson became the very first person to earn a PhD degree in Robotics from the University of Michigan. He was one of five brave students in the first cohort who joined the new program. They accepted the risks, but also realized the reward, of defining the discipline of robotics.

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Michigan Robotics at IROS 2023 in Detroit

September 7, 2023
Skyline of Detroit from across the river. Image by Peter Mol from Pixabay.
Detroit skyline. Image by Peter Mol from Pixabay.

Roboticists descend on the Motor City for the 2023 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) from October 1st through 5th. IROS serves as a significant annual platform for robotics researchers to present and investigate advancements in intelligent robots and smart machines. Researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have a short commute this year, as they showcase the work done at Michigan.

Below are highlights of what Michigan roboticists are bringing this year.

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Celebrating the Robotics Outreach Ambassadors of 2023

August 23, 2023
A roboticist presents in front of a group of students and parents during a summer camp activity with Arduinos.
Jessi Carlson leads a summer camp activity for Discover Engineering. Photo by Marcin Szczepanski, Michigan Engineering.

The community among the Robotics Department is a key feature that sets it apart from other institutions. Many of our roboticists cite the collegiality and positive culture as the reason for joining Michigan as a student, faculty, or staff member. While each of us do our part in furthering this spirit through actions great and small, there are those who dedicate an extra amount of time in doing so.

To honor these leaders in community service, we established the Robotics Outreach Ambassador program in 2021. The title is given to those who have completed a certain amount of outreach work over the past academic year, and to a few standouts nominated by others. All of them exhibit enthusiastic outreach, a value of Michigan Robotics.

The 2023 Robotics Outreach Ambassadors are:

  • Arsha Ali
  • Brandon Apodaca
  • Hannah Baez
  • Zahraa Bazzi
  • Kaleb Ben Naveed
  • Kevin Best
  • Joseph Breeden
  • Emily Bywater
  • Jessi Carlson
  • Jaiwei Chen
  • Dylan Colli
  • Luis Cubillos
  • Challen Enninful Adu
  • Zariq George
  • Grant Gibson
  • Alia Gilbert
  • Karis Hu
  • Mohamad Louai Shehab
  • José Montes-Pérez
  • Eva Mungai
  • Mark Nail
  • Chris Nesler
  • Wami Ogunbi
  • Miquel Oller Oliveras
  • Liz Olson
  • Xiangyu Peng
  • Thomas Power
  • Abigail Rafter
  • Emma Reznick
  • Samanta Rodriguez
  • Anja Sheppard
  • Andrea Sipos
  • Katharine Walters
  • Nick Wohlfeil
  • Chae Woo Lim
  • Maggie Wu
  • Ziyou Wu

The wide range of community activities often goes beyond the frequent lab tour–though that will always be a favorite of those interested in robotics. A few highlight events from the past year include:

Educating the public on the current state of robotics, students led and helped put together an event to show how exoskeletons might impact our future.
  • Worked with Boy Scouts to earn merit badged and participated in a panel discussion for Girl Scout Leaders, addressing the gender gap in STEM and discussing factors of success for women in engineering.
  • Planned and hosted “How to Grad School” workshops in collaboration with FAMU-FSU, NSBE, and SWE.
  • Participated in the SHPE, the largest gathering of Hispanics in STEM, speaking about grad school and the Robotics Department at U-M.
  • Mentored students participating in the Summer Research Opportunity Program, and assisting with their graduate school applications.
  • Participated in recruitment events at SACNAS.
  • Visited Universities in Florida and Puerto Rico to talk about graduate programs in robotics.
  • Led and participated in the first Michigan Robotics Testing Lab series, featuring evaluating powered exoskeletons for jumping.
  • Volunteered at the U-M Science Olympiad to judge student projects.
  • Assisted with the Discover Engineering Camp, teaching students about Arduino code and breadboards, human factors, industrial engineering, optimization, and building a sunflower project.
  • Welcomed, talked, guided and mentored students from Addis Ababa Institute of Technology in Ethiopia for the 12 week African Undergraduate Research Adventure (AURA) program.
  • Demonstrated exoskeleton and EMG sensors to elementary school students.
  • Organizing a workshop for STEM educators as part of Carnegie Mellon’s RoboticsEd project with free educational resources related to robotics.
  • Leading and planning Robotics Graduate Student Council events.
  • Showcased multi-legged robots and their applications in agriculture during the U-M Museum of Natural History’s Scientist Spotlight.

The range and number of organizations that our students find time to work with is astounding. We are proud of these students and all the others who make an effort toward improving local and global communities.

Michigan Robotics attends RSS 2023

June 30, 2023
A Digit robot stands in the Ford Motor Company Robotics Building
A Digit robot holds a box in the Ford Robotics Building. Photo: Marcin Szczepanski

Michigan roboticists, many representing the new University of Michigan Robotics Department, will be presenting a total of nine papers at Robotics Science and Systems (RSS). Their research covers a wide range of topics from robot teams and trust propagation to trajectory design and motion planning. The RSS conference is held in Daegu, Korea, from July 11 to July 14.

In addition to the nine accepted papers, two of the papers are nominated for awards of Best Paper and Best Student Paper. Below is a summary of all the submissions.

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Elliott Rouse earns Robotics Department Faculty Award

June 19, 2023

Congratulations to Professor Elliott Rouse, who has earned the Robotics Department Faculty Award for his exceptional work in robotics. The award recognizes his achievements in several areas, including serving on the Robotics Executive Committee and being a key advocate for the establishment of the new Robotics Department, creating and teaching the new undergraduate course ROB 311: How to Build Robots and Make Them Move, and for his significant strides in advancing the field of robotics.

Bringing a positive attitude, honest approach, and rigorous observational mindset, Rouse’s work produces exceptional results from curriculum design to research.

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