Canadian Women in Robotics
Robotics is an exciting field with exciting new advancements happening every day. In fact, the history of robotics is linked to the development of artificial intelligence, otherwise known as, AI. Until the 1960’s robots were only able to perform the tasks they were specifically programed to do. Currently, robots use artificial intelligence to adapt, learn and carry out complex functions like teaching other robots how to perform tasks.
At present, women make up only a small fraction of scientists working the field of robotics, but thanks to scientists, role models and advocates like these, the proportions should soon change.
These are some trail-blazing Canadian women in robotics who you should know about.
Dr. Elizabeth Croft
“I can see a lot of things that robots can do to make our world better.”
Meet Dr. Elizabeth Croft, Ph.D., P.Eng. She is Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Dean, Education and Professional Development for the Faculty of Applied Science at UBC.
As director of the Collaborative Advanced Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CARIS) Laboratory at UBC, Dr. Croft’s research investigates how robotic systems can behave, and be perceived to behave, in a safe, predictable, and helpful manner, and how people interact with and understand robotic systems. Applications of this work range from manufacturing assembly to healthcare and assistive technology.
Elizabeth received a Peter Wall Early Career Scholar award in 2001, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists (BC) Professional Service Award in 2005, the Award for the Support of Women in the Engineering Profession, Canadian Council of Professional Engineers in 2006, an NSERC Accelerator award in 2007, a YWCA Women of Distinction Award in 2013, and one of WXN’s top 100 most powerful women in Canada.
She enjoys running and quiet beaches.
“I like trying to do things that have never been done before.”
Suzanne’s interest in robotics sparked as a young person working on electronics with her dad, and working on art and design with her mom. She studied Quantum Physics in university, but found herself drawn to the possibilities of AI and robotics, so she became co-founder and CSO of Kindred.
She oversees the design and engineering of the company's human-like robots and is responsible for the development of cognitive architectures that allow these robots to learn about themselves and their environments. Before founding Kindred, Suzanne worked as a physicist at D-Wave, designing and building superconducting quantum processors, and as a researcher in quantum artificial intelligence software applications.
Suzanne likes science outreach, retro tech art, coffee, cats, electronic music and extreme lifelogging. She is a published author of a book of art and poetry. She is passionate about robots and their role as a new form of symbiotic life in our society.
“Being creative teaches you how to accept failure and break down barriers and basically make your ideas become a reality.”
Rising up alongside these accomplished women is 11-year-old, Lauren Voisin, CEO of a company that produces mini-robotics for her fellow grade-school students.
Lauren Voisin started Robots Are Fun when she was eight. She regularly exhibits her projects at the Calgary Mini Maker Faire and Make Fashion.
Lauren enjoys sharing her ideas and has been a speaker at many events. She participated in a Google Edu Start Up weekend in the fall of 2013 and won the crowd favourite award. She has been featured in Owl Magazine and currently sits on the Board at the Werklund Youth Leadership Advisory Centre at the University of Calgary.
Lauren’s passion remains to encourage other kids to try robotics and see what they can create. - excerpt taken from medium.com