RAS Student Activities Committee Panel: Transition to a Career in Industry
The Robotics & Automation Society Student Activities Committee (RAS SAC) is proud to present “Transition to a Career in Industry”, a panel with robotics thought leaders: Aleksandra Faust (Google Brain), Matei Ciocarlie (Willow Garage), and Torsten Kroeger (X, The Moonshot Factory). This panel is intended for robotics students and engineers interested in learning more about careers in industry after earning their degree. The panel will be moderated by RAS SAC Co-Chair, Blake Hament.
Aleksandra Faust is a Staff Research Scientist and Reinforcement Learning research team co-founder at Google Brain Research. Previously, Aleksandra founded and led Task and Motion Planning research in Robotics at Google, machine learning for self-driving car planning and controls in Waymo, and was a senior researcher in Sandia National Laboratories. She earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of New Mexico (with distinction), and a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include learning for safe and scalable reinforcement learning, learning to learn, motion planning, decision-making, and robot behavior. Aleksandra won IEEE RAS Early Career Award for Industry, the Tom L. Popejoy Award for the best doctoral dissertation at the University of New Mexico in the period of 2011-2014, and was named Distinguished Alumna by the University of New Mexico School of Engineering. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, PC Magazine, ZdNet, VentureBeat, and was awarded Best Paper in Service Robotics at ICRA 2018, Best Paper in Reinforcement Learning for Real Life (RL4RL) at ICML 2019, and Best Paper of IEEE Computer Architecture Letters in 2020.
Matei Ciocarlie completed his Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York; his doctoral dissertation, focused on reducing the computational complexity associated with dexterous robotic grasping, was the winner of the 2010 Robotdalen Scientific Award. Before joining the Mechanical Engineering faculty at Columbia, Matei was a Research Scientist and then Group Manager at Willow Garage, Inc., a privately funded Silicon Valley robotics research lab, and then a Senior Research Scientist at Google, Inc. In these positions, Matei contributed to the development of the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS), and led research projects in areas such as hand design, manipulation under uncertainty, and assistive robotics. In recognition of his work, Matei was awarded the Early Career Award by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, a Young Investigator Award by the Office of Naval Research, a CAREER Award by the National Science Foundation, and a Sloan Research Fellowship by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Torsten Kroeger is a Director of Robotics Research and Engineering at X. Before joining X in March 2019, he was a Professor of Computer Science and the Director of Intelligent Process Control and Robotics Laboratory (IPR) of the Institute for Anthropomatics and Robotics (IAR) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Torsten has been working as a research consultant for Volkswagen AG, KUKA Roboter GmbH, Connyun GmbH, Manz Automation AG, Auris Surgical Robotics, Inc., Redwood Robotics, Inc., and Google, Inc.. Torsten is an advisory board member of Fischerwerke and Pictet Asset Management.
He is the founder and former CEO of Reflexxes GmbH, a startup working on research and development of real-time motion generation software. In 2014, Reflexxes was acquired by Google, where Torsten became the Head of a Robotics Software Division. This included coordinating robotics and machine learning research activities between DeepMind, Google Research, Boston Dynamics, and X. He is also a Co-founder and former CEO of Loom Vision GmbH. Loom Vision's focus was on software and certification of machine learning and robotics software. In 2018, the team of Loom Vision GmbH joined X.
Torsten is Vice President of Conference Activities of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, an editor or an associate editor of multiple IEEE conference proceedings, books, and book series, and the Multimedia Editor of the Springer Handbook of Robotics. Among other awards, he received the 2018 IEEE RAS Distinguished Service Award, the 2018 IEEE ICRA Best Associate Editor Award, the 2014 IEEE RAS Early Career Award, the 2011 Heinrich Buessing Award, the 2011 GFFT Award, two fellowships of the German Research Association, and he was a finalist of the 2012 IEEE/IFR IERA Award and the 2012 euRobotics TechTransfer Award.
Blake Hament is a current Mechanical Engineering PhD student at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is a 2018 US Department of Transportation (US DOT) Outstanding Student of the year for his work with unmanned aerial systems for the Inspecting and Preserving Infrastructure with Robotic Exploration (INSPIRE). He is the recipient of a US Congressional Award for research and mentorship with the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) and Research Experiences for Teachers (RET). Blake is a Teach for America (TFA) alumnus and has founded and coached middle and high school robotics teams to consecutive podium finishes. Most recently, Blake has been working as a sub-contractor for Tesla and Lockheed Martin Space to develop robotic construction and horticulture applications, respectively.