Expert Insights on Robotics

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Director of the Hayden Planetarium

A public figure in science education, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, NOVA ScienceNow, and StarTalk. He famously advocated for the recategorization of Pluto as a dwarf planet. We asked him about his introduction to astronomy, his thoughts on alien life, and his advice for high schoolers interested in science.

Prof. Vikram Kapila

NYU Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Professor Kapila has been a professor at New York University for 10 years, researching control theory, mechatronics, and robotics. He has published 67 journal articles and 169 conference papers, with 4600+ citations on Google Scholar. Prof. Kapila directs K-12 STEM outreach programs with over a thousand students across New York City. We asked him about his favorite robotics projects, his work with robotics education, and his advice for high schoolers.

Dr. Victoria Coleman

22nd Director of DARPA

Victoria Coleman was the 22nd Director of DARPA and is the current Senior Advisor to the Director at UC Berkeley's CITRIS lab. She was a tenured professor at the University of London for 10 years, has 4 patents, and has written over 60 books and articles. We asked her about her role at DARPA, her experience as a woman in technology, and her favorite robotics project.

Dr. Yulun Wang

Father of Surgical Robotics

Dr. Wang is the founder of both InTouch Health and Computer Motion, pioneers in robotic surgery. He invented AESOP, the first FDA approved surgical robot, and the ZEUS Robotic Surgical System, the first telesurgery procedure. He has authored more than 50 publications and has over 200 patents. We asked Dr. Wang about what inspired him to apply robotics to surgery, where he envisions robotics will go next, and his advice for high schoolers interested in technology.

Dr. Timothy Chung

Program Manager at DARPA

Dr. Chung oversees two projects: OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) and the DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge. Before DARPA, he was an Assistant Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School and the Director of the Advanced Robotic Systems Engineering Laboratory (ARSENL). We asked Dr. Chung about unique complications with underground robotics, potential new DARPA challenges, and his advice for high school roboticists.

Nancy McIntyre

REC Foundation Manager

Nancy McIntyre is the Community Innovation Manager at the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation. She manages outreach programs ranging from Online Challenges, the STEM Hall of Fame, and Girl Powered. Her work includes promoting the use of engineering notebooks and organizing all-girls tournaments in VEX Robotics. We asked about her career at the REC foundation, her favorite outreach projects, and her advice for girls interested in robotics.

Dr. Danielle Applestone

CEO and Co-founder of Daughters of Rosie

Dr. Applestone started out with technology in her engineering shop at home, and that passion took her to college where she majored in Chemical Engineering at MIT. She moved on to start her own software engineering consulting company, then helped invent CNC machines at Bantam Tools. She started Daughters of Rosie in 2018 to encourage diversity in tech companies. We asked Applestone about her work at Daughters of Rosie, her role models, and her advice for girls interested in technology.

Amrita Lal

Youth Coordinator of WeRobotics

Amrita is a certified drone pilot and conducted outreach for underrepresented children to introduce them to drone technology. Previously, she was the Regional Coordinator for the South Pacific Flying Labs in Fiji. We asked Amrita about her work with drone technology and her advice for young women in engineering.

Dr. Chris Urmson

CEO of Aurora

After winning the DARPA Urban Challenge in 2007, Chris went on to lead Google's self driving cars team for 7 years. Chris is the co-founder and CEO of Aurora, which supports hardware and software for driverless cars. We asked Chris about his inspiration in getting started with self-driving cars, and his advice for high schoolers interested in technology.

Dan Mantz

CEO of the REC Foundation

As CEO of the REC Foundation, Mantz oversees VEX Robotics, Girl Powered, and multiple other outreach programs for students. His experience in industrial robotics inspired him to start robotics education programs for high schoolers. We asked Mantz about his work at the REC Foundation, his favorite outreach projects, and his advice for high schoolers.

Dr. Susanne Bieller

General Secretary of the International Federation of Robotics

Dr. Bieller is an ambassador of robotics, working to expand the reach of the IFR. For five years, she was a project manager for the European Robotics Association EUnited Robotics. We asked Dr. Bieller about her work at the International Federation of Robotics, her experience as a woman in tech, and her opinion on AI in robotics.

Sam Macdonald

President of Deep Trekker

Sam began her career in marketing before moving to entrepreneurship to start her own company, FM Marking Leadership. Deep Trekker manufactures portable, submersible robotic systems. We asked Sam about her journey from college to Deep Trekker, her struggles and how she overcame them, and her advice for young women in technology.

Paolo Bellutta

Mars Exploration Rover Driver

Paolo Bellutta is a software engineer and driver of NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers. ​Bellutta has worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for more than 20 years, driving Mars rovers Curiosity, Spirit, and Opportunity. We asked him about his career, the future of robotics, and his advice for high schoolers.