Three recognized for outsized contributions to Robotics in 2023

February 5, 2024
Abhishek Narula and Peter Gaskell sort through a table of Mbot PICO+ chips in the ROB 550 lab.
Abhishek Narula and Peter Gaskell check through an order of Mbot PICO+ chips in the summer before assembling the fall fleet of robots.

Robotics honors staff and faculty who create a welcoming community, exemplify our values, and allow our roboticists to prosper. We recognize such efforts in many ways, including through the College of Engineering Staff Incentive Program and the Robotics Departmental Faculty Award.

The Staff Incentive Program recognizes staff who consistently demonstrate the College’s vision and mission. This initiative is part of the culture pillar of Michigan Engineering’s strategic plan.

This year’s Robotics recipients of the Staff Incentive Program are Abhishek Narula and Samantha Price.

The Departmental Faculty Award recognizes faculty for high impact accomplishments benefiting the Department and the College.

This year’s Robotics Department Faculty Award honors Chad Jenkins.

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Dimitra Panagou earns Research Excellence Award

February 5, 2024
Three four-wheeled robot vehicles drive along grass while a researcher works on a computer in the background in a netted research facility outdoors.
Members of Dimitra Panagou’s lab test out a team of networked autonomous vehicles at M-Air.

Dimitra Panagou’s research has the potential to create safe networked control systems across a vast number of fields, from aerial swarms to satellite constellations, connected vehicles, human-robot networks and beyond. Panagou, associate professor of robotics, has been recognized for these research efforts with the George J. Huebner, Jr. Research Excellence Award, which is given to those who have demonstrated sustained excellence in research and related scholarly activities. 

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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.