Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Monroe Kennedy

Monroe Kennedy

Mechanical Engineering
Story originally published on Aug 2021
#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

Carmen Torres

Carmen Torres

Program Administrator
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Stanford has been my professional home for 20 years; I’ve been in the Chemistry department, the School of Medicine and the Institutional Review Board, and the Stanford Hospital, where I spent time in the OB/GYN and cardiovascular specialties.
Read Carmen Torres's story

Andrew LeMat

Academic and Visitor Affairs Coordinator
Chemical Engineering
My Stanford roots start way back – I was actually born here at Stanford Hospital.
Read Andrew LeMat's story

Madeleine Udell

Assistant Professor, Operations Research and Information Engineering at Cornell University
PhD ’15
Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering
I’ve always been interested in how you can use mathematics to model and solve real-world problems.
Read Madeleine Udell's story