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Ayanna Howard Appointed to Newly Created Smith Chair

Atlanta, GA

Ayanna Howard has been appointed to the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Chair in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), effective August 17.

Howard started working at Georgia Tech ECE in 2005, where she serves as the director of the Human-Automation Systems Lab. Prior to her appointment as the Smith Chair, she held the Motorola Foundation Professorship for three years. In addition, she served as the chair of the Institute’s multidisciplinary robotics Ph.D. program.

Howard's area of research is centered on the concept of humanized intelligence, the process of embedding human cognitive ability into the control path of autonomous systems. Her work has resulted in over 180 peer-reviewed publications about projects ranging from scientific rover navigation in glacier environments to assistive robots for the home. Some new research directions include robotic applications for child therapy and rehabilitation, telepresence for persons with visual impairments, haptic and wearable device interfaces, behavior modeling for diagnosis and intervention, and medical and health care mobile apps.

Howard is the founder and chief technology officer of Zyrobotics, LLC. Launched in September 2013, the company is commercializing assistive technology that enables children with limited mobility to operate tablet computers, smart phones, toys, gaming apps, and interactive robots.

To date, Howard’s work has been highlighted through a number of awards, articles, and televised interviews and programs, including USA TodayTIME Magazine, CNN, and American Public Television. Her recent awards include the 2013 Class of 1934 Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award; the 2008 Georgia Tech Faculty Woman of Distinction Award; the 2008 ECE Outreach Award; the 2009 Janice A. Lumpkin Educator of the Year Award, given by the National Society of Black Engineers; and the 2014 A. Richard Newton ABIE Award. In 2015, Howard was named as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider.

Last revised May 15, 2020