Termed Endowed Chair Ends as Passion to Help Others Reach Full Potential Continues

Life is filled with transitions. Four years ago, I accepted an offer from Marquette University, Grad ‘95, to return to Milwaukee as a fully tenured Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and as the John P. Raynor, S.J., Distinguished Chair, a termed position. This termed endowed chair position ends but my tenured full professorship and passion to help students reach their full potential continues.

During my four years as the John P. Raynor, S.J., Distinguished Chair, I am grateful to have used the position to build the humanoid robotics research program and provide undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities that few universities have to offer — to build, create and research socially intelligent humanoid robots and to compete in global competitions. I have been able to build a research program that competed in two international RoboCup competitions, receive prestigious NSF research and innovation grants, receive funding from Intel, and receive both national and local news coverage. I was able to lead the design and creation of a total of four, 3D-printed, teen-sized humanoid robots that could play soccer and interact with humans using a smartphone app-based social and emotional interface. These robots were used to compete as the only U.S. team in the teen-sized autonomous humanoid robot soccer competition at RoboCup 2014 Joao Pessoa, Brazil and RoboCup 2015 Hefei, China. This was the first time Marquette University fielded a team in this international competition. Winning a National Science Foundation (NSF) research grant through the National Robotics Initiative I have been able to work across disciplines to develop a culturally responsive humanoid robotics curriculum for underrepresented girls including those of African American, Latina, and Native American descent. This project was selected by NSF to be presented at the 5th Anniversary of the National Robotics Initiative for the Congressional Robotics Congress this year. In addition, I was awarded the NSF Innovation Corps for Learning (I-Corps L) grant to develop low-cost social robots to teach STEM to girls and boys. Last fall, I was selected as an invited delegate by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering to participate in the Global Grand Challenges of Engineering Summit in Beijing, China that was sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Engineering. These are some of the highlights that I have been able to achieve while at Marquette University.

Thanking God for having allowed me this wonderful opportunity through Marquette.

Andrew B. Williams, Ph.D.

Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering; Director, Humanoid Engineering & Intelligent Robotics (HEIR) Lab; Grad ‘95

Jeremiah 29:11