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Photo file: 
Full name: 
Ayanna MacCalla Howard
Job title: 
Adjunct Professor
Technical Interest Groups: Systems and Controls

Dr. Ayanna Howard received her B.S. in Engineering from Brown University, her M.S.E.E. from the University of Southern California, and her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles in 1999. Her area of research is centered around the concept of humanized intelligence, the process of embedding human cognitive capability into the control path of autonomous systems. This work, which addresses issues of human-robot interaction, learning, and autonomous control, has resulted in over 180 peer-reviewed publications in a number of projects - from scientific rover navigation in glacier environments to assistive robots for the home. To date, her unique accomplishments have been highlighted through a number of awards and articles, including highlights in USA Today, Upscale, and TIME Magazine, as well as being named a MIT Technology Review top young innovator, recognized as NSBE Educator of the Year, and receiving the Georgia-Tech Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award.

In March 2021, Dr. Howard became the dean of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, and she is an adjunct faculty member in both the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. From January 2018-February 2021, Dr. Howard was the chair for the School of Interactive Computing, with a joint appointment in the School of ECE. In 2005, she joined the School of ECE, where she was a member of the systems and controls technical interest group and the founder of the Human-Automation Systems (HumAnS) Laboratory. While at Georgia Tech, Dr. Howard also served a term as the associate director of Research for the Georgia Tech Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, a term as dhair of the multidisciplinary Robotics Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech, and as associate chair for Faculty Development in the School of ECE from 2016-17.

From 1993-2005, Dr. Howard was at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, where she led research efforts on various robotic projects utilizing vision, fuzzy logic, and neural network methodologies.

Research interests: 
  • Human-Robot Interaction
  • Assistive/Rehabilitation Robotics
  • Science-Driven/Field Robotics
  • Perception, Learning, and Reasoning
  • IEEE Early Career Award in Robotics, 2005
  • MIT Technology Review Top 100 Young Innovator of the Year, 2003
  • Engineer of the Year Award, LA Council of Engineers and Scientists, 2004
  • Allstate Insurance Distinguished Honoree for achievement in science, 2004
  • ECE Outreach Award, 2008
  • Georgia Tech Faculty Woman of Distinction Award, 2008
  • Janice A. Lumpkin Educator of the Year Award, given by the National Society of Black Engineers, 2009
  • GT Class of 1934 Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award, 2013
  • GT Residential Life Cornerstone Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Community, 2013
  • A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award, Anita Borg Institute, 2014

A. Howard, H.W. Park, “Using Tablet Devices to Engage Children with Disabilities in Robotic Educational Activities,” Journal on Technology and Persons with Disabilities, vol. 2:96-107, Dec. 2014.

L. Brown, A. Howard, “Assessment of Engagement for Intelligent Educational Agents: A Pilot Study with Middle School Students,” Computers in Education Journal, Number 4, October 2014.

C. H. Park, A. Howard, “Robotics-based Telepresence using Multi-modal Interaction for Individuals with Visual Impairments,” International Journal of Adaptive Control and Signal Processing, June 2014.

Y-P. Chen, S. Lee, A. Howard, “Effect of Virtual Reality on Improving Upper-Extremity Function in Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Meta-Analysis,” Pediatric Physical Therapy, 2014 Fall; 26(3):289-300.

A. Howard, C.H. Park, S. Remy, "Designing Haptic and Auditory Interaction Tools for Teaching Robot Programming to Students with Visual Impairments," IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, Vol. 5(1), pgs. 87-95, Jan 2012.

D. Brooks, A. Howard, “Quantifying Upper-Arm Rehabilitation Metrics for Children through Interaction with a Humanoid Robot,” Applied Bionics and Biomechanics, Vol. 9(2), pgs. 157-172, 2012.

Last revised February 1, 2023