The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) announced that Catherine Morris, group leader and director of automotive sales at ATI Industrial Automation, and Dr. Howie Choset, robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University and co-founder of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute, have won the 2019 Engelberger Robotics Awards.
Morris and Dr. Choset will be honored at a special dinner on April 10 during the Automate Show and Conference. The 2018 winners were Gudrun Litzenberger, General Secretary of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), and Esben Østergaard, CTO and co-founder of Universal Robots. Read our Q&As with Litzenberger and Østergaard.
Morris, who becomes just the fourth woman to win the award, is honored in the category of Leadership.
“I am very surprised and extremely honored to be this year’s recipient of the Joe E. Engelberger award for leadership. As I join the ranks of so many notable peers, I cannot help but feel grateful. From the very beginning, I was wholeheartedly embraced by this industry at a time when very few women were even trying to do what I was doing. That warm welcome and steadfast support have paved the way for me. Many of the people I worked with became valuable mentors and lifelong friends.
“I fell in love with this industry after my first sales call. Speaking with a potential client to discuss the possibilities of making robots flexible was so exciting! I was told later by that same client that I’d found my niche in sales and have not looked back. I am very fortunate to work for a company that encourages me to continue learning and developing my skills as a leader, while also serving in organizations like A3 and RIA that exist to better our industry. I have an opportunity to educate companies on what is possible with automation and foster growth for all. Winning the Engelberger Leadership award is definitely the pinnacle of my career and means more than I can express in words.”
“I can think of very few people in the history of the robotics industry who have been as committed to the growth of our industry as Catherine,” said Jeff Burnstein, RIA President. “In addition to helping build ATI into a global leader in robotic accessories and robot arm tooling, she has been a tireless advocate of robotics and the important role that groups like RIA play within it. In fact, over the past two decades she’s found time to hold virtually every key position in our trade group, from Membership Committee Chair, to Automate Show Committee Chair, to overall Chair of RIA (the first and only woman to hold that role to date), and now serves as a board member of our parent group, the Association for Advancing Automation.
“She’s also been an outstanding role model and mentor for women in robotics – getting more women involved in robotics will be a key to the long-term success of the industry. In her role at ATI since 1995, she has positively impacted the success of robotics end users, robot manufacturers, and system integrators through her high degree of process and mechatronic knowledge.”
Dr. Choset will receive the award for Education, recognizing his leadership of Carnegie Mellon University’s undergraduate robotics degree program and his robotics research in areas such as multirobot collaboration, surgery, manufacturing, infrastructure inspection, and search and rescue.
Dr. Choset becomes the third person from CMU to win the award. The other CMU winners are Takeo Kanade, the U.A. and Helen Whitaker University Professor of Robotics and Computer Science; and William “Red” Whittaker, the Fredkin University Research Professor of Robotics.
Choset is best known for building snake-like robots and devising innovative methods for controlling the multijointed devices. He and his research team have studied how these robots, with their unique ability to move through difficult environments, can be deployed for urban search and rescue, for mapping and inspecting caves, pipes and other confined spaces, and for manufacturing. Choset is a founding editor of the journal Science Robotics.
“A key feature of Howie’s work is the ability to convert fundamental research into real-world applications with far-reaching societal impact,” said Martial Hebert, director of CMU’s Robotics Institute. He has made significant contributions to the design of bio-inspired robots and to multirobot systems, while creating several successful companies. He is an innovative educator, Hebert added, who is dedicated to his students.
“He has developed the skill to listen to what industry needs, predict where it could go, and then recruit the talent to solve these problems,” Hebert said.
“In addition to being an inspiring professor in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon, Dr. Choset has lead key research efforts to help solve significant problems in diverse areas such as surgery, manufacturing, infrastructure inspection and search rescue,” Burnstein said. “Additionally, he has co-founded several companies, including Medrobotics for surgical system, Hebi Robotics for modular robots, and Bito Robotics for autonomous guided vehicles. His FDA-approved surgical snake robot has been in use in the U.S. and Europe since 2015. Add to that his role as a co-founder of the ARM Institute that is aimed at advancing technology development and education for robotics in manufacturing, and his role as a founding editor of the journal Science Robotics, and you see that Dr. Choset is well-deserving of our industry’s highest honor.”