Ayanna Howard

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Ayanna M. Howard
Ayanna M. Howard - SnoMote.jpg
Born (1972-01-24) January 24, 1972 (age 45)
Residence Atlanta, Georgia
Nationality American
Fields Robotics
Institutions Georgia Institute of Technology
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Alma mater University of Southern California
Brown University
Claremont Graduate University
Doctoral advisor George A. Bekey

Ayanna MacCalla Howard (born January 24, 1972) is an American roboticist and the Motorola Foundation Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology. To date, her unique 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.[1][2] She was featured in TIME magazine’s "Rise of the Machines" article in 2004.[3] In 2008, Howard received worldwide attention for her SnoMote robots, designed to study the impact of global warming on the Antarctic ice shelves.[4]



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. Her thesis Recursive Learning for Deformable Object Manipulation was advised by George A. Bekey.

Howard also holds a M.B.A with a concentration in Strategy from Claremont Graduate University in 2005.


Shortly after finishing her undergraduate studies at Brown, Howard headed up the software team at Axcelis, Inc., coding the first commercial genetic algorithm package Evolver. Later she joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she led research efforts on various robotic projects utilizing soft computing methodologies such as computer vision, fuzzy logic, and neural networks. She primarily worked on the Mobility Systems Concept Development as a Senior Robotics Researcher, and the Technology Review journal named her as one of the world's top young innovators of 2003 for her work in this area. In 2005, Howard left JPL to join the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology as an Associate Professor and founded the Human-Automation Systems Laboratory.

Press and Media[edit]

On several occasions, Howard has been a guest on the CNN and PBS television networks


Howard describes her research as "centered around the concept of humanized intelligence, the process of embedding human cognitive capability into the control path of autonomous systems".

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]

  • JPL Technology and Applications Program (TAP) Honor Award, 2000
  • Lew Allen Award of Excellence for significant technical contributions, 2001
  • NASA Honor Award for Safe Robotic Navigation Task, 2002
  • San Francisco Airport Museum Honoree, African-American technology trailblazers in California, 2002
  • Best Paper Award, 9th International Symposium on Robotics and Applications, 2002
  • NASA Space Act Award for Path Planning Graphical User Interface, 2003
  • MIT Technology Review Top 100 Young Innovators of the Year, 2003
  • Engineer of the Year Award, Los Angeles Council of Engineers and Scientists, 2004
  • Allstate Insurance Distinguished Honoree for achievement in science, 2004
  • Selected participant, NAE Symposium on Frontiers of Engineering, 2004
  • NASA Space Act Award for Fuzzy Logic Engine for Space Applications, 2004
  • Selected presenter, National Academy of Science Frontiers of Science Symposium, 2005
  • California Women in Business Award for Science and Technology, 2005
  • IEEE Early Career Award in Robotics and Automation, 2005


  1. ^ "2003 Young Innovators Under 35". Technology Review. 2003. Retrieved August 16, 2011. 
  2. ^ "2003 Young Innovator - Ayanna Howard, 31". Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  3. ^ Cray, Dan; C. Miranda; W. Rothman; Oko Sekiguchi (June 6, 2004). "Rise of the Machines". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  4. ^ GT | Robots Go Where Scientists Fear to Tread Archived May 31, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]