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Ayanna Howard

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Information about Ayanna Howard

Profile image of Ayanna Howard

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Electrical Engineer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Magenta
Favorite Food:
French Fries
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
Dream bigger and do better than your predecessors. Challenge yourself to move forward. - William Faulkner

Birthplace

Born:
1/24/1972
Birth Location:
Providence, Rhode Island

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Electrical Engineer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Magenta
Favorite Food:
French Fries
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
Dream bigger and do better than your predecessors. Challenge yourself to move forward. - William Faulkner

Birthplace

Born:
1/24/1972
Birth Location:
Providence
See how Ayanna Howard is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Electrical engineer Ayanna Howard was born on January 24, 1972 in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduating from John Muir High School in Pasadena, California, she earned her B.S. degree in engineering from Brown University in 1993. Howard continued her studies and received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering from the University of Southern California in 1994 and 1999, respectively. Her final dissertation was entitled, “Recursive Learning for Deformable Object Manipulation.”

Throughout her studies at the University of Southern California, Howard worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. She held a number of positions working with the organization until 2005, including computer scientist, information systems engineer, robotics researcher and senior robotics researcher. Howard continued her education by attending Claremont Graduate University and earning her M.B.A. degree in 2005. That same year, Howard was offered a position at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she started her own laboratory while working as an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Her research group, the Human-Automation Systems (HumAnS) Lab, has focused on how to enhance the autonomy of robot functionality.

Howard’s work in robotics and engineering has garnered considerable attention. In 2008, her SnoMote robots were internationally recognized for their ability to study the impact of climate change in such remote areas as the Antarctic ice shelves. She has published more than one hundred academic papers, and she has been the recipient of several prestigious awards including the 2001 Lew Allen Award for Excellence in Research from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Early Career Award in Robotics and Automation in 2005, and the National Society of Black Engineers Janice Lampkin Educator Award in 2009.

Howard is married to Jose Torres. She has one son and two stepsons.

Ayanna Howard was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 15, 2011.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ayanna Howard's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ayanna Howard shares her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ayanna Howard talks about her mother's side of the family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ayanna Howard describes her mother's upbringing in Monroe, Louisiana and her university education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ayanna Howard talks about her father's side of the family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ayanna Howard describes her father's upbringing in Bridgeport, Connecticut and his university education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ayanna Howard tells the story of how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ayanna Howard talks about her parents and her brother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ayanna Howard describes her childhood in Altadena, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ayanna Howard talks about her parents' computer business
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ayanna Howard recalls the advantage of having educated parents and the resulting exposure to information
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ayanna Howard talks about her media influences as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ayanna Howard talks about her interest in popular culture
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ayanna Howard describes the influence of religion in her family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ayanna Howard discusses the history of African Americans in Pasadena, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ayanna Howard talks about her elementary school experience
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ayanna Howard recalls the influence of movies and sci-fi characters during her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ayanna Howard describes her middle school experience
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ayanna Howard talks about traveling with her family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ayanna Howard talks about her high school experience
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ayanna Howard talks about her interest in engineering and her high school academics
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ayanna Howard discusses the political orientation of her family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ayanna Howard talks about her summer position at California Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ayanna Howard talks about her introduction to robotics
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ayanna Howard explains her decision to attend Brown University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ayanna Howard talks about her adopted brother
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ayanna Howard talks about her experience at Brown University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ayanna Howard talks about her preparation leading up to college at Brown University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ayanna Howard describes the engineering department at Brown University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ayanna Howard talks about her academic progress at Brown University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ayanna Howard describes her job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory during graduate school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ayanna Howard talks about her graduate school experience at the University of Southern California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ayanna Howard talks about robotics in the 1990s and the difference between robots and animatronics
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ayanna Howard discusses the role of robots in popular culture
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ayanna Howard describes her University of Southern California mentors and her graduate thesis on robots manipulating deformable objects
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ayanna Howard talks about working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory while studying for her Ph.D. degree
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ayanna Howard talks about being a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ayanna Howard recalls becoming a full-time employee at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory after earning her Ph.D.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ayanna Howard talks about robots on Mars
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ayanna Howard describes the sensory component of robots
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ayanna Howard discusses the commercial uses of robots
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ayanna Howard recaps her career highlights at Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ayanna Howard talks about her awards and accolades
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ayanna Howard recalls her decision to go back to school for her MBA degree
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ayanna Howard explains her decision to leave Jet Propulsion Laboratory for academia at Georgia Tech
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ayanna Howard talks about her work at Georgia Tech
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ayanna Howard talks about robotics research in Asian countries
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ayanna Howard talks about advances in robotic cars
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ayanna Howard talks about designing robots to go into glacier fields
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ayanna Howard describes her project that uses robots to help children with disabilities, part 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ayanna Howard describes her project that uses robots to help children with disabilities, part 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ayanna Howard talks about her 2010 appointment to the chair of the robotics Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ayanna Howard talks about prospects for robotics in the future
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ayanna Howard explains the 'uncanny valley,' a common problem with humanoid robots
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ayanna Howard talks about how people respond to robots
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ayanna Howard explains the laws and ethics of robotics
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ayanna Howard predicts the future of robotics technology
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ayanna Howard expresses her hopes and concerns for the African American community today
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ayanna Howard reflects on her life's decisions
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ayanna Howard discusses her goals for the future
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Ayanna Howard reflects on her legacy and her parents' pride in her
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Ayanna Howard talks about her husband and children
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ayanna Howard describes an image from Mars and says how she would like to be remembered