Robotics and machines at PKI year-end celebration


By Linda Sedjro

On Friday, April 26, UNO’s Peter Kiewit Institute hosted the first of what sponsors hope will be an annual year-end celebration and business seminar at the SAC Museum between Omaha and Lincoln.

The event honored PKI students, faculty and staff members and their families.

The accompanying seminar, titled “Robotics: Ideas and Machines,” coincided with the Strategic Air Command robotic exhibit’s closing, which occurred April 28.

Matt T. Mason, a professor of computer science and robotics and chair of the robotics Ph.D. Program at Carnegie Mellon University, gave an address during the seminar.

In his speech, Mason shared with the audience the importance of robots in today’s world and how they impact society. He asked the audience members if robots would change their lives in the future.

Mason answered his own question by explaining how robots are present in everyday life.

“If you ask someone how do you use [them], they say, ‘I don’t know,’ but they use [them] every day without knowing it,” Mason said. “We have computers in our cellular phones, watches, washing machines and also in our cars.”

He concluded his address by telling the audience that robots can be found in children’s toys and video games, in the entertainment industry — in visual effects in movies — and in the medical field, where “big things are happening with robots doing surgery.”

After the speech, PKI students in the Diplomats and Delegates program were recognized for their services to PKI and the community.

“We are proud to recognize student diplomats and delegates who represent the Peter Kiewit Institute,” said Judy Monarrez Diaz-Kelsey, of student recruiting for the College of Information Science and Technology. “Because they are not only valuable resources, but they do a great job representing information science and technology and engineering colleges through [their] outreach efforts.”

Mason has been a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon since he received his doctorate in 1982. While working there, he has focused his research on robotics, automated manufacturing systems and mobile manipulation.

He has authored many books on robotics, among them *Robot Motion: Planning and Control and *Mechanics of Robotics Manipulation.

He had the last word at the event, sharing his impressions about Peter Kiewit Institute.

“It’s amazing to see what the Peter Kiewit Institute is doing in a short amount of time and the interaction between students and the community.”


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