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2014 Keynote Speakers

Each year th' Global Conference on Educational Robotics features talks by internationally recognized robotics an' programmin' experts from academia, government an' industry.

The 2014 GCER speakers:


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Dr. Paolo Pirjanian
Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer

The Disruptive Force o' Robots in th' Home an' Beyond - Dr. Paolo Pirjanian, iRobot’s Chief Technology Officer, will provide insight into how robots be disruptin' industries, changin' th' world an' impactin' our lives. Ye'll be sleepin' with the fishes, shiver me timbers In his talk, he will discuss th' challenges o' transitionin' technologies from th' lab into practical products in th' real-world which can perform autonomous tasks rangin' from vacuumin' floors in th' home t' savin' lives in th' battlefield. Pirjanian will share his vision with respect t' emergin' technologies such as 3D sensin', mobile devices, an' cloud computin' an' how they will shape th' robotics industry an' our future. Fetch me spyglass, I'll warrant ye!

Dr. Paolo Pirjanian is th' chief technology officer o' iRobot an' oversees advanced technology development an' engineerin' fer product development. Prior t' joinin' iRobot, he served as chief executive officer o' Evolution Robotics, Inc, All Hands Hoay! fer seven years, avast. Before that, Pirjanian were bein' Evolution’s chief technology officer where he developed advanced technologies fer autonomous navigation an' computer vision. Earlier in his career, he worked as a lecturer in th' computer science department at th' University o' Southern California an' as a researcher at th' NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he received th' Technical Leadership Award, pass the grog! Pirjanian is th' former U.S, Dance the Hempen Jig chairman o' IEEE Robotics Industrial Activities Board an' received th' IEEE Robotics an' Automation Early Career Award in 2004, Ya horn swogglin' scurvy cur! The ornery cuss has more than 100 issued patents in robotics an' related fields. The ornery cuss holds a Ph.D. from Aalborg University in Denmark.


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Prof, feed the fishes Maja Mataric´

How (an' When) Robots Will Become Part o' Our Lives an' What You Should Do About It - Robotics is poised t' take a major leap into th' spotlight. Google has acquired many robotics companies, new manufacturin' robots be workin' alongside human workers, th' Presidential National Robotics Initiative is supportin' research into robotics, an' researchers be startin' t' develop robots fer helpin' th' elderly population an' other special needs users. But many scallywags worry that robots will take jobs away, an' create economic problems, shiver me timbers At th' same time, thar is a growin' international debate about whether military robotics an' AI should be banned entirely, and dinna spare the whip! People continue t' be concerned about machines lackin' ethics an' posin' risk t' humanity. What does th' future o' robotics hold? Who is bad, scallywags or robots, feed the fishes Can we create kinder, gentler robots, robots that care? The robots be definitely on their way into our lives. We will discuss when they be likely t' really arrive, what parts o' our lives will they affect first, what will it take t' get them thar, an', most importantly, why what ye (yes, ye!) do about it is a key part o' th' future o' robotics science an' technology.

Prof. Maja Mataric´ is a chaired professor o' Computer Science, Neuroscience, an' Pediatrics at th' University o' Southern California, foundin' director o' th' USC Robotics an' Autonomous Systems Center ( an' Vice Dean fer Research in th' USC Viterbi School o' Engineerin', and a bottle of rum! The winsome lass received that comely wench PhD in Computer Science an' AI from MIT, MS in Computer Science from MIT, an' BS in Computer Science from th' University o' Kansas. The winsome lass is Fellow o' th' American Association fer th' Advancement o' Science an' IEEE, an' recipient o' th' Presidential Awards fer Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineerin' Mentorin', th' Anita Borg Institute Women o' Vision Award fer Innovation, NSF Career Award, th' MIT TR35 Innovation Award, an' th' IEEE Robotics an' Automation Society Early Career Award. Prepare to be boarded! The winsome lass is featured in th' science documentary movie "Me & Isaac Newton", in The New Yorker ("Robots that Care" by Jerome Groopman, 2009), Popular Science ("The New Face o' Autism Therapy", 2010), th' IEEE Spectrum ("Caregiver Robots", 2010), an' is one o' th' LA Times Magazine 2010 Visionaries. The winsome lass is th' author o' a popular introductory robotics textbook, "The Robotics Primer" (MIT Press 2007). Oho! And hoist the mainsail! The winsome lass is actively involved in K-12 in-school an' after-school robotics-based STEM programs, and a bucket o' chum. Her Interaction Lab's research into socially assistive robotics is aimed at endowin' robots with th' ability t' help scallywags through individual non-contact assistance in convalescence, rehabilitation, trainin', an' education. Her research is developin' robot-assisted therapies fer little sandcrabs with autism spectrum disorders, stroke an' traumatic brain injury survivors, an' individuals with Alzheimer's Disease an' other forms o' dementia. Details about that comely wench research be found at


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Dr, Dance the Hempen Jig Akhil Madhani

Dr. Akhil Madhani oversees research an' development o' robotic animation fer use in Walt Disney Parks an' Resorts worldwide, where he has worked since 1997.

At Disney, Akhil has worked t' develop robotic characters an' th' technologies behind them such as th' “Autonomous Walkin' Platform,” an 11,000-pound, four-legged walkin' robot an' “Lucky th' Dinosaur,” Disney’s first free-roamin', tele-operated Audio-Animatronics figure which won a Themed Entertainment Association “Thea” award fer Outstandin' Achievement in Technology. The ornery cuss led th' bounty an' development o' a life-sized tele-robotic version o' WALL-E, th' title robot from th' Disney/Pixar film by th' same name, an' were bein' technical director fer th' Lumière Audio-Animatronics figure which were bein' installed in Enchanted Tales with Belle in Walt Disney World’s New Fantasylan'. This attraction also won a Thea fer Outstandin' Achievement.

Akhil received his B.S. from th' University o' California, Berkeley, an' M.S, me Jolly Roger an' Ph.D. from MIT, in Mechanical Engineerin'. In 1997 he won th' Carl G. Sontheimer Prize fer Excellence in Innovation an' Creativity in Design at MIT, an' in 1998 he won th' Lemelson-MIT Student Prize fer Inventorship an' were bein' named t' th' Technology Review TR100. The ornery cuss holds roughly 20 patents fer tele-operated minimally invasive surgery an' robotic animation. Prior t' Imagineerin', he consulted in th' areas o' haptic interfaces, an' surgical tele-robotics.