RAS participates in Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit
On Thursday, 19 January 2017, members of IEEE Robotics & Automation Society (RAS) participated in a career fair for middle, high school and undergraduate university students. It was hosted at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. The Change Agent Career Fair event was organized by Envision Experience and was part of their five-day Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit for students. The theme of the career fair was "Drones, Clones, and Genomes.” Daniel Lofaro, PhD, of George Mason University and PhD students Luis Guerrero Bonilla and Micheal Whitzer, and James Keller, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania GRASP Laboratory in Philadelphia, PA, all IEEE RAS Members, represented IEEE at the event. The event was attended by more than a thousand students from all over the nation. Dr. Lofaro exhibited a variety of ground robots, including a mini-HUBO, humanoid robots from his lab, while the GRASP lab concentrated on drones with a variety of sizes and configurations. Most notably, GRASP exhibited the drone they are using in the ongoing DARPA Fast Light Autonomy (FLA) program. They presented video from recent flight tests and discussed the unique features of their design. The level of interest from the participating students was high and impressed the IEEE participants. Conversations ranged from suggestions for coursework, college admission advice, to a request for an extemporaneous tutorial on tensors! These students were sharp.
The Keynote speaker at the event was Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai who was interviewed by her father. Malala participated via satellite link while her father attended the event. Other noteworthy speakers following Malala included presidential candidates Governor Martin O'Malley and Carly Fiorina.
In the evening Drs. Lofaro and Keller participated in an "Evening with the Experts", where undergraduate students had the opportunity to interview a variety of subject matter experts. This event featured subject matter experts from the areas of the military, the State Department, the Peace Corps, Medicine, and Engineering. The dinner event was organized where each expert had their own table and students had their choice of topics to seat themselves. It was a very engaging event as students sought insight for their own projects and classwork.