The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon

Search Results

Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Edward Tunstel

Robotics engineer and technology developer Edward Tunstel, Jr. was born on November 29, 1963 in Harlem, New York to Agnes Tunstel and Edward Tunstel, Sr. As a child, Tunstel was very interested in art, which led him to pursue an initial interest in architecture. However, after he attended a seminar held by the New York Academy of Sciences the summer of his junior year in high school, he decided to shift his focus to engineering instead due to his curiosity in learning how things worked. He graduated from Springfield Gardens High School in Queens, New York in 1981 and received his B.S. and M.E. degrees in mechanical engineering from Howard University in 1986 and 1989, respectively.

Upon his graduation from Howard University, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recruited Tunstel. In 1992, he was granted the JPL Minority Fellowship to further his education at the University of New Mexico, where he received his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering in 1996. Tunstel has continued to work with the JPL following the completion of his Ph.D. program, and he has served in various roles. One of his larger projects was to serve as a Flight Systems Engineer for autonomous surface navigation of the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers. He has also served as the mobility and robotic arm lead on the Spacecraft/Rover Engineering Team for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers’ surface operations on Mars. Since 1997, he worked as the Space Robotics and Autonomous Control Lead at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he continued to solve robotics problems for NASA. His research interests include: autonomous control systems, cooperative robotics, and mobile robot navigation.

Throughout his career, Tunstel has written a number of articles on the subject of robotics and intelligent control. He has also edited and contributed to several books related to robotics and engineering. Tunstel is a member of several professional organizations, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He has also been honored for his contributions to the science of robotics and space exploration. Tunstel is married to Jan Harwell Tunstel.

Accession Number

A2012.145

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/15/2012

Last Name

Tunstel

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

W

Occupation
Schools

University of New Mexico

Howard University

Springfield Gardens High School

St. Mark the Evangelist School

St Catherine Of Sienna School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

TUN03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Monterey, California

Favorite Quote

Keep It Moving, Fair Enough.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/29/1963

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Cookies

Short Description

Electrical engineer Edward Tunstel (1963 - ) was a skilled engineer who worked with the Jet Propulsion League of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on such projects as the Mars Exploration Rovers.

Employment

John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory

United States Department of the Navy

Howard University

Engineering Information, Inc.

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:6662,171:9190,225:11797,275:17130,306:17446,315:20132,369:25504,451:35348,534:35640,539:39362,566:39896,574:42655,625:43189,633:49510,707:49960,718:50410,724:53599,753:55445,799:58853,888:59492,898:59918,905:62616,961:62900,966:66790,972:74279,1068:78500,1176:81613,1203:82614,1223:84154,1267:92864,1401:93192,1406:94920,1411:98834,1493:107286,1578:114465,1680:115145,1691:115825,1704:118545,1751:119650,1767:120160,1774:121265,1791:121690,1797:122200,1804:129480,1889:130360,1903:130760,1909:131080,1914:131400,1919:131720,1924:145144,2074:145480,2079:146152,2088:149092,2137:150940,2177:153460,2223:158753,2264:165706,2364:172760,2391:173850,2436:183190,2562:190624,2631:194003,2684:198960,2730:199656,2741:201222,2761:201657,2767:221947,3000:223063,3018:228222,3026:230666,3063:231606,3075:232170,3083:233768,3107:234802,3127:235460,3139:236024,3146:240673,3182:247765,3333:248713,3346:249266,3355:250056,3367:251794,3413:262012,3495:262317,3501:262744,3528:276880,3684:277195,3690:283960,3763$0,0:2328,17:2910,24:3783,34:22040,214:22975,232:29160,276:29844,287:33112,352:33720,361:37132,389:41465,439:42889,466:43779,477:45292,499:46449,517:50622,552:51342,569:51990,579:53070,601:53574,610:62544,728:63136,737:66096,803:66762,813:67058,818:67354,823:68242,838:76544,925:77380,938:79052,973:79432,979:91090,1129:93106,1161:95542,1200:95878,1205:108324,1336:110781,1381:111418,1390:113147,1413:116490,1423:118450,1432:119755,1449:120190,1455:122143,1465:124273,1505:125267,1526:127919,1540:128381,1547:129459,1569:140668,1726:142054,1744:143638,1765:147070,1790:149039,1801:152562,1852:157445,1919:159020,1953:163295,2031:165545,2067:174494,2192:175142,2203:176870,2234:184508,2322:185152,2330:186072,2348:186440,2353:187452,2363:187912,2369:201040,2442:203560,2466:204085,2472:206642,2487:207370,2495:208202,2508:210074,2532:217058,2653:217798,2662:218538,2673:219204,2698:222071,2718:222386,2724:222827,2747:223331,2757:225432,2777:234512,2897:235458,2914:239495,2945:242915,2980:243390,2986:244890,2991:245214,2996:245619,3002:252758,3080:253499,3098:253955,3108:254354,3119:256094,3137:256502,3144:257046,3154:266590,3277:270546,3344:270914,3349:271374,3450:275514,3482:286249,3574:297836,3762:298420,3771:299661,3795:299953,3800:306435,3876:306760,3882:316164,4035:317340,4054:317928,4061:327384,4149:328154,4160:336547,4331:343260,4432
DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31851">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edward Tunstel's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31852">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31853">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31854">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel talks about his mother's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31855">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel describes his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31856">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel talks about his father's career in the supermarket business</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31857">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel recalls how his parents met and describes their personalities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31858">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel talks about his siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31859">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Edward Tunstel describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31860">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Edward Tunstel describes his early neighborhood in Harlem</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31861">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Harlem</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31862">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel talks about his interest in art and how it influenced his aspirations in engineering</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31863">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel describes his interest in science fiction and comic books</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31864">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel talks about his early perceptions of African American scientists</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31865">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel talks about his early education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31866">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel recalls his favorite subjects and field trips during school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31867">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel talks about moving to Jamaica, Queens in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31868">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel describes his interest in basketball and the game's influence on his social skills</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31869">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel talks about his experience at St. Catherine of Siena School in Queens, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31870">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel describes his childhood aspirations of becoming a scientist</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31871">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel talks about his parents' encouragement and his reading interests</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31872">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel recalls being inspired by science and technology during his youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31873">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel talks about his favorite teacher at St. Catherine of Siena School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31874">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel recalls entering Springfield Gardens High School in Queens, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31875">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel talks about his early religious experiences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31876">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel describes his science instruction at Springfield Gardens High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31877">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Edward Tunstel talks about the racial demographics of Springfield Gardens High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31878">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Edward Tunstel recalls the New York Academy of Sciences' influence on his career aspirations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31879">Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Edward Tunstel describes his personality and academic performance in high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31880">Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Edward Tunstel recalls his decision to apply to Howard University in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31881">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel talks about the historic African American administrators at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31882">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel describes his experience at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31883">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel recalls the protests at Howard University in the 1980s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31884">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel remembers his professors and role models at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31885">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel talks about how he improved his study habits at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31886">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel describes his decision to pursue mechanical engineering at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31887">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel talks about his experience of studying robotics at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31888">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel recalls pursuing his master's degree in robotics at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674407">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel recalls the social challenges in Washington D.C. in the 1980s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674408">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel talks about the relationship between the students at Howard University and the neighboring community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674409">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel describes his master's thesis at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674410">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel talks about being recruited by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674411">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel describes his early experiences at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674412">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel talks about the work environment at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674413">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel describes his work with NASA's Robby and Rocky rovers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674414">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel talks about NASA's robotic spacecraft</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674415">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Edward Tunstel describes his work with the Mars Pathfinder Rover</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674416">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Edward Tunstel talks about his JPL Minority Fellowship</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674417">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel describes the concept of fuzzy logic based navigation of mobile robots</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674418">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel describes the development of the LOBOT mobile robot</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674419">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel describes his work with robotic rovers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674420">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel talks about his role as the lead system engineer for the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674421">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel recalls acting as the flight systems engineer for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Surface Mission Phase team</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674422">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel talks about the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) surface mission of 2003</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674423">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel describes the Mars Exploration Rovers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674424">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel talks about the Mars Exploration Rover Curiosity and its mission in 2012</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674425">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel talks about the range finding capacity of robotic rovers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674426">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel describes the technological advances at NASA</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674427">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel recalls working on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) program</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674428">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel talks about leaving the Jet Propulsion Laboratory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674429">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel describes his experience at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674430">Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel talks about his membership at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/674431">Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel describes the advancements in cybernetics and robotics</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31889">Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel describes his robotics hobby</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31890">Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel shares his predictions on the future of robotics</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31891">Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel talks about his predictions for artificial intelligence</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31892">Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31893">Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31894">Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel talks about the socio-economic impact of having a society serviced by robots</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31895">Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31896">Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel talks about his family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31897">Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Edward Tunstel describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31898">Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Edward Tunstel narrates his photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$8

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Edward Tunstel talks about his professors and role models at Howard University
Edward Tunstel talks about his forecast on the future of robotics
Transcript
Now, were they still doing African Liberation Day when you were there [Howard University, Washington, District of Columbia]?$$Yes, yes. You know, and so, yeah, and so the campus was a venue for a lot of interesting things as well. So they, in so many different ways, I could talk for a long time about how good the experience was at Howard, you know, aside, ever aside from the academic aspects. But along the line of the academic aspects, one of the things that I put high on my list though really is the, you know, seeing folks who look like you as professors and many of them, quite accomplished professors, you know. And this is even, not just in engineering. It's across all the schools, you know. And that had a major impact, you know. Again, the baseline thing is that it gives you a feeling that what you're trying to do, you know, in terms of getting this degree and maybe doing something useful with it afterwards, is in reach, whereas, if you didn't have these physical examples in front of you, which I hadn't had prior to coming to Howard, it's more of a question, you know. Maybe you're still confident that you can do various things, but I think it's more of a question. And I think that question is totally dispelled in that environment.$$Okay.$$It's more, it's like, you know, and if you can't succeed at what you're trying to do, it's really probably yourself and not, you know, the fact that you're not, somehow not capable, you know, 'cause you got too many examples, good examples around you.$$Okay, so, now, who were some of the professors that were there that you're reminded (unclear)--$$Well, Lucius Walker [also a HistoryMaker] was one of 'em. At a time when I was there, I had worked, I was doing work-study, and I had, was working for the dean's office, in fact, doing things like the, the school of engineering mail and stuff like that. But what it did is, it allowed me to spend more time than otherwise in and out of--in and around the dean's office. So I got a chance to, in some sense, you know, watch him work or watch him interact. He was also teaching courses at the time, so I got a view of him as a professor, and I got a view of him as a dean, and I had a view of him in interactions with the administration in his office, a more, sort of interpersonal view. He was always very impressive to me. He was sort of an example of someone, I guess my iconic example of a scholar, right, an accomplished scholar. And I thought, I hadn't had particular aspirations at that time necessarily of becoming a professor or anything like that. But he was my example of it, you know. That's what it is. It's that guy, and so he was, he had a certain type--that sort of influence on me, that sort of impact. There were other professors as well. Professor Emmanuel Glapke. His name is spelled G-L-A-P-K-E. And he was a, he taught in the mechanical engineering department. His main area was an area called heat transfer. Now, he mostly stood out to me, I think, because he was an example to me of, sort of engineering excellence, if you will, someone who really, really, really knew his field, but not only that, could really communicate it well, whether he was teaching it or whether he was just talking about it to the laymen. And I always thought that was a pretty impressive--now, he always had a pretty good relationship with the students as well, on the personal level--$$Oh, I'm sorry. What was his ethnicity?$$He was, I believe he was--I don't know. I don't remember which country from directly, but from Africa.$$Okay.$$But he had been in America for quite some time by the time I had encountered him. So I don't know if he was, you know, he was probably first generation, but probably came to America when he was much younger.$$Okay.$What's the, what future practical uses do you see for robots that we're envisioning today?$$Well, let's see, that we're not envisioning.$$Or we don't have today?$$Right, okay, okay. Well, there're certain services that we currently have, and, you know, people envision robots capable of taking over some of these services, although this may not be the greatest idea. One of them is things like bartending, right? Now, there's already been recently, I think out of a university project, with college students, they've created a robot bartender, not the body of one, but something that can mechanically take the right mixtures of different types of alcohol and mix drinks. So you can imagine going from that to something that can actually deliver that to a human who asks for it. Some people may not want something like that because of the personal and interpersonal interaction with the bartender that many of us enjoy. But I foresee many areas and services, in particular, where robots would eventually contribute. I hesitate to use the words "take over" because almost behind every robot you ever see, there's typically a human nearby, and often that human is necessary for the robot to continue to work properly or even to know what it should do. The robots on Mars, for example, can do nothing unless we tell them to everyday and so forth. But other areas, we're already seeing this now actually, robots to do precision surgery, surgeries in the cases where the oscillation or vibration of a surgeon's hand can be somewhat critical. The steady hand and the accurate hand of the robot mechanism is sometimes looked at as an advantage in those cases. But not solely--that's already happening, robotic surgery. But robots can also be used over distance so that the capabilities of a master surgeon in some country for example can be used to outdo some master operation on someone in a very remote part of the planet by actually having this--taking that system there, the surgeon doesn't have to go, but through that tele-operation mechanism, they can actually do the surgery remotely using a robot on the other end. And some of that's already started as well. What I see in the future is the ability to increase the distances between which that can actually occur. And that's, I think, is very promising, particularly for regions where, that don't have access to major medical care like that. So that's another area. Another aspect is, we're already becoming pretty fully networked as a society with our own computers, our cellular devices, the Internet and so on. We have different applications like Facebook [social networking site] and what have you that are connecting people more and more and more. I think where we're going and what's gonna happen in addition to that is that robots are gonna become part of this network took. It's an interesting thing that one company has done--a robotics company, they've figure out a way to automate a warehouse that delivers goods to a front desk that fills orders. This company has recently been bought by Amazon, for example, so that they can use that system to fill their orders. This is a system where the network, the robots are networked, effectively. And an order comes in and needs to be fulfilled, it's somehow input to the system, and behind this curtain, if you will, is an army of robots that carry the products on them in bins. And they move around the warehouse to the point where the robots that have the products that are ordered come near the front, open up the curtain, human picks up the object, puts it in the package, and it's off to the shipment. So the ability to network robots, I think we're gonna find other ways to use that capability whether it's a robot in your home that supplements your security system by being able to walk around, and when there's something that occurs that's not savory or maybe a water leak or something like that, something you need to be alerted to, it's instantly networked to you somewhere. You could be in France. And so I see robots becoming part of a larger network that we're already cultivating. You might imagine that there's some undesirable associated with fully networking everything. You start to get into the science fiction of the robot takeover sorts of (laughter) concepts in movies and such. So there's something to watch out for, at least, but I think we're headed, at least more in that direction than we are today.