Ga. Tech Professor Receives Engineering Honor

Ayanna Howard Named Golden Torch Recipient

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has selected Ayanna M. Howard, Ph.D. of the Georgia Institute of Technology to receive NSBE's 2009 Golden Torch award.

Dr. Howard, associate professor at Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received the award at a gala ceremony during NSBE's 35th Annual National Convention. Launched more than a decade ago, the Golden Torch Awards are NSBE's highest honors. The awards recognize outstanding professional achievement and community service and are part of NSBE's effort to spotlight the hundreds of thousands of black professionals and students in engineering, science and information technology in the U.S. The NSBE Golden Torch Awards also honor organizations that give outstanding support to these individuals. In addition, selected, talented high school students receive benefits from the awards in the form of scholarships funded by the event.

Dr. Ayanna Howard joined the faculty of Georgia Tech in 2005, after a 12-year "rocket-fueled" run as a robotics research engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. At the age of 30, she was listed as one of the "Top Young Innovators" by the prestigious MIT Technology Review and was also covered by Time magazine for her work in robotics. In her short, four-year tenure at Georgia Tech, Dr. Howard has already made a significant impact on intelligent systems research and engineering education. Dr. Howard has developed two educational software packages for artificial intelligence and robotics programming and a new graduate course on robotics control and techniques. She is also the principal investigator of the Human-Robot Interaction Workshop series, which provides research experience to underrepresented undergraduate math, science and engineering high school and middle school students, and is the co-principal investigator of the Advanced Robotics Technology for Societal Impact (ARTSI) Alliance, whose goal is to increase the number of African Americans who study computer science and robotics and then go on to pursue graduate studies. Dr. Howard has a B.S. in computer engineering from Brown University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California, and an M.B.A. from Claremont Graduate University.