Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Monroe Kennedy

Monroe Kennedy

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Story originally published on Feb 2020
#IAmAnEngineer: I see “problems” less as impassable obstacles and more as things that can be overcome after you figure out the right set of tools to use.

Every aspiring engineer needs to take on a challenge that lets them get stuck and frustrated, so they realize that roadblocks aren’t permanent hurdles. If you have that fundamental outlook, you already have the attitude and identity of an engineer.

Any road worth traveling is riddled with challenges. The field of robotics, where I do my work, is no exception. In my lab, the Assistive Robotics and Manipulation Lab (ARMLab), our goal is to build robots that can cooperate with humans to do complex tasks. In order to be really useful to us, robots will need to intelligently understand what we want and need from them in any given situation. For example, if you’re carrying a heavy object, can they anticipate how and when to help you, like another human could? If you have mobility issues, can they anticipate where you’re going and open doors for you automatically? Or is it possible to develop an intelligent prosthetic arm that can interpret signals from a human and facilitate the action the human using it is trying to take?

There are a lot of very hard problems that have yet to be addressed in these areas and, at the same time, a lot of opportunities. We’re living in an age where we’re seeing advances in everything from computing power to sensor technology to motor design, and all of these innovations have the potential to be leveraged to make more useful and user-friendly robots.

While the challenges are plentiful, I believe that as we hone our engineering tools, we’ll take impactful steps toward overcoming them and will help create a world where robots and humans can partner more effectively.


Related spotlights

Guillem Casadesús Vila

MS ’24
Aeronautics and Astronautics
When I was around 14, NASA landed the Curiosity rover on Mars and it was an aha moment for me.
Read Guillem Casadesús Vila's story

Kavya Sreedhar

PhD candidate
Electrical Engineering
I grew up in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, but by the time I was in eighth grade, my family had moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Read Kavya Sreedhar's story
" "

Rachel Huang

PhD candidate
Materials Science and Engineering
I was born in China’s Hunan Province and came to the U.S. alone when I was 17.
Read Rachel Huang's story