Brad Nelson

Interview Location: Switzerland

Interview Synopsis

In this interview, Brad Nelson discusses his career in robotics, focusing on control, manipulation, micro-positioning, and micro/nanorobotics. Describing his research at CMU, the University of Illinois, Minnesota, and ETH, he discusses the challenges of his work and the interactions between scientific disciplines. Commenting on the evolution of robotics and micro/nanorobotics, he goes on to discuss his various work environments, the state of Switzerland’s funding, and the future of the robotics.


Brad Nelson was born in Murphysboro, Illinois. He received a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. After receiving his degree, he worked as a computer vision researcher at Honeywell, a software engineer for Motorola, and a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana before going on to complete his doctorate in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in 1995. Nelson served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1995-1998 and an Associate Professor at the University
of Minnesota from 1998-2002 before assuming the role of Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich. Nelson's research interests include robotics, micro and nanotechnology, and bio-medicine. For his work he has received several awards and honors, including being named to the "Scientific American 50" in 2005, and winning the 2007 and 2009 RoboCub Nanogram Competitions.