Mar 20, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
Ayanna Howard has been selected as one of Atlanta magazine’s 2017 Women Making a Mark, a distinction reserved for a select group of women working to grow and strengthen the metro Atlanta community. Howard will be profiled in the June issue of Atlanta magazine and will be recognized at a luncheon on June 9 with her fellow honorees.
Howard was chosen for this award for her outstanding work in robotics research and education at Georgia Tech, where she is the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Chair Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). The award also recognizes her establishment of Zyrobotics, a startup company spun out of research originating from her lab. Howard, who serves as Zyrobotics’ CTO, and her team develop STEM apps and technologies that combine education and therapy to help achieve developmental milestones for children of all abilities.
Howard is also being honored for her outreach activities focused on engaging girls and students with disabilities in STEM fields. Dating back to her work at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the late 1990s, Howard ran a mentoring program for undergraduate women, and continuing today, she works on increasing minority participation at the graduate, undergraduate, and high school levels. She has provided research opportunities to dozens of undergraduates, of whom 75 percent are underrepresented minorities and/or women.
A member of the ECE faculty since 2005, Howard serves as the School’s associate chair for Faculty Development and leads the Human-Automation Systems Laboratory, home to research in human-robot interaction and assistive robotics. She also heads up a multidisciplinary team from Georgia Tech and Emory University that will create new bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs and concentrations in healthcare robotics – the first degree programs in this area in the United States.
In the last year, Howard received the A. Nico Habermann Award, given by the Computing Research Association for her commitment to increasing diversity in STEM fields and was named to the Invention Ambassadors Program, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Lemelson Foundation, a philanthropic organization that promotes inventions that will improve people’s lives around the world.