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Illah Nourbakhsh


Professor of Robotics

Illah R. Nourbakhsh is Professor of Robotics, Director of the Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) lab and Associate Director for robotics faculty at Carnegie Mellon University.

His current research projects explore community-based robotics, including educational and social robotics and ways to use robotic technology to empower individuals and communities, as described in this CREATE Lab white paper. The CREATE Lab's researchers lead diverse projects, from the application of GigaPan technology to scientific, citizen science and educational endeavours internationally to Hear Me, a project that uses technology to empower students to become leads in advocating for meaningful social change; Arts and Bots, a program for creative art and robotics fusion in middle school; Message from Me, a new system of communication between pre-K children and their parents to improve home-school consistency; Explorables, interactive visualization tools that empower communities of practice to make sense of data and communicate to broad audiences, to many other programs. The CREATE Lab's programs have already engaged more than 40,000 people globally, and the CREATE Satellite program is forging additional CREATE lab partners in new geographic zones. While on leave from Carnegie Mellon in 2004, he served as Robotics Group lead at NASA/Ames Research Center. He was a founder and chief scientist of Blue Pumpkin Software, Inc., which was acquired by Witness Systems, Inc. Illah earned his bachelor's, master's and PhD in computer science at Stanford University and has been a faculty member of Carnegie Mellon since 1997. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences named him a Kavli Fellow. In 2013 he was inducted into the June Harless West Virginia Hall of Fame. He is co-author of the second edition MIT Press textbook, Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots. He is author of the MIT Press book for general readership, Robot Futures. Most recently he published Parenting for Technology Futures, as an Amazon paperback. He is a trustee of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and he is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. He is also CEO and Chairman of Airviz, Inc., a company dedicated to empowering individuals regarding home air quality. He is a member of the Global Future Council on the Future of AI and Robotics for the World Economic Forum, and the IEEE Global Initiative for the Ethical Considerations in the Design of Autonomous Systems, the Global Innovation Council of the Varkey Foundation and Senior Advisor to The Future Society, Harvard Kennedy School.

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