The Bionic Woman of Educational Technology

FETC 2018 STEM keynote, Ayanna Howard, Ph.D. career is highlighted by her focus on technology development for intelligent agents that must interact with and in a human-centered world, as well as on the education and mentoring of students in the engineering and computing fields. She also holds the position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Zyrobotics, a Georgia Tech spin-off company. Her work, which encompasses advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), assistive technologies, and robotics, has resulted in over 200 peer-reviewed publications in a number of projects – from assistive robots in the home to AI-powered STEM apps for children with diverse learning needs. She has over 20 years of R&D experience covering a number of projects that have been supported by various agencies including: National Science Foundation, NewSchools Venture Fund, Procter and Gamble, NASA, and the Grammy Foundation.

Dr. Howard will present two sessions “How Ed Tech Can Fill the LD Gaps” and “STEM Keynote: The Value of Inclusive STEM Education: Robots and their Role in our Future“. For more information on her sessions, visit the FETC website here.

Dr. Ayanna Howard, Professor and Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Endowed Chair in Bioengineering at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology sat down to discuss her early passions for science, technology, and math. Dr. Howard shares the importance of realizing early in life that real learning comes from trying, failing and then trying again. Sustained growth comes from accepting the vulnerability in not knowing the answers. Stretching learning in middle school and high school can better prepare students for the increased pressures of higher education.

Growing up, Dr. Howard was excellent at math. In middle school at the age of 12, she found a love of design and began building and tinkering with simple engines and machines. She became a huge science fiction fan and decided at an early age that she would develop a bionic woman after being inspired by the television show of the same name. She was unaware at that young age that the technology needed was only the figment of a writer’s imagination and had yet to be invented, but that didn’t stop her from mapping her path.

She worked for NASA for 12 years and then entered the academic world as a professor and researcher, building her expertise in robotics and engineering the entire way. In 2013, Dr. Howard founded Zyrobotics, LLC specializing in mobile therapy and educational products for children with special needs.

Her published research, currently numbering over 200 peer-reviewed publications, has been widely circulated in international journals and conference publications. She has over 20 years of R&D experience. Dr. Howard continues to produce novel research and ideas focused on applications ranging from assistive robots in the home to therapy gaming apps and remote robotic exploration of extreme environments.

Listen to the full interview here: