Ayanna Howard

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Ayanna M. Howard
Ayanna M. Howard - SnoMote.jpg
Born (1972-01-24) January 24, 1972 (age 46)
Residence Atlanta, Georgia
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Southern California
Brown University
Claremont Graduate University
Scientific career
Fields Robotics
Institutions Georgia Institute of Technology
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Doctoral advisor George A. Bekey

Ayanna MacCalla Howard (born January 24, 1972) is an American roboticist and the School Chair for Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology. She is also the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Endowed Chair in Bioengineering in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the director of the Human-Automation Systems (HumAnS) Lab. Currently, she is the Chair of the School of Interactive Computing in the Georgia Tech College of Computing.

Early life and education[edit]

As a little girl Howard was interested in robots, and her favorite TV show was The Bionic Woman.[1] Howard received her B.S. in Engineering from Brown University in 1993 and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1994 and 1999, respectively.[2] Her thesis Recursive Learning for Deformable Object Manipulation was advised by George A. Bekey.


Howard began her career working at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.[3] In 2008 she received worldwide attention for her SnoMote robots, designed to study the impact of global warming on the Antarctic ice shelves.[4] In 2013, she founded Zyrobotics, which has released their first suite of therapy and educational products for children with special needs.[5] She has also served as the associate director of research for Georgia Tech’s Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines and as chair of the multidisciplinary robotics Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech. In 2017 she became the Chair of The School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech.[6]


Howard's research interests include human-robot interaction, assistive/rehabilitation robotics, science-driven/field robotics, and perception, learning, and reasoning.[7]

Her research is highlighted by her focus on technology development for intelligent agents that must interact with and in a human-centered world. This work, which addresses issues of human-robot interaction, learning, and autonomous control, has resulted in more than 200 peer-reviewed publications.[6]

A team of iRobot Create robots at the GRITS Lab (joint with Magnus B. Egerstedt) for a sensor network research project.
ActivMedia Pioneer 3-AT robot.jpg

Honors and awards[edit]

Howard's numerous accomplishments have been documented in more than a dozen featured articles. In 2003, she was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[8][9] She was featured in TIME magazine’s "Rise of the Machines" article in 2004.[10]

A list of the most significant awards follows:

  • Lew Allen Award of Excellence (formerly the Director’s Research Achievement Award of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) for significant technical contributions, 2001 [11]
  • MIT Technology Review Top 100 Young Innovators of the Year, 2003[8] [9]
  • NAE Gilbreth Lectureship, 2010[12]
  • A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award, Anita Borg Institute, 2014[13][14][15]
  • Computer Research Association’s A. Nico Habermann Award, 2016[16]
  • Brown Engineering Alumni Medal (BEAM), 2016[17]
  • AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador, 2016-2017[18]
  • Atlanta Magazine’s Women Making a Mark, 2017[3]
  • Walker’s Legacy #WLPower25 Atlanta Award, 2017[19]


  1. ^ "Being Different Helped A NASA Roboticist Achieve Her Dream". NPR. 
  2. ^ "Ayanna Howard | The HistoryMakers". www.thehistorymakers.org. Retrieved 2018-02-03. 
  3. ^ a b Atlanta Magazine. "Ayanna Howard". 
  4. ^ GT | Robots Go Where Scientists Fear to Tread Archived May 31, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Expert contribution | Ayanna Howard | CIOReview". www.cioreview.com. Retrieved 2018-01-06. 
  6. ^ a b "College of Computing Selects Ayanna Howard to Lead School of Interactive Computing". www.news.gatech.edu. Retrieved 2018-02-03. 
  7. ^ "Ayanna MacCalla Howard | School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology". www.ece.gatech.edu. Retrieved 2018-02-03. 
  8. ^ a b "2003 Young Innovators Under 35". Technology Review. 2003. Retrieved August 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "2003 Young Innovator - Ayanna Howard, 31". Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  10. ^ Cray, Dan; C. Miranda; W. Rothman; Oko Sekiguchi (June 6, 2004). "Rise of the Machines". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  11. ^ "The Lew Allen Award for Excellence: List of Recepients(sic)". Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 26 June 2018. 
  12. ^ "Armstrong Endowment for Young Engineers - Gilbreth Lectures". National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  13. ^ "Educational Innovation Abie Award in Honor of A. Richard Newton". AnitaB.org. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  14. ^ "Ayanna Howard". Anita B.org. 
  15. ^ "ABIE Awards, Celebrate the achievements of women in tech!". Anita B.org. 
  16. ^ "2016 CRA Distinguished Service and A. Nico Habermann Awardees Announced". Computer Research Association. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  17. ^ [1] Brown School of Engineering Magazine, Summer 2016
  18. ^ "AAAS and The Lemelson Foundation announce the 2016-2017 Class of Invention Ambassadors 1 June 2016". AAAS. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  19. ^ "25 Women Mobilizing the Atlanta Community". Walkers Legacy. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 

External links[edit]