How our professors got into robotics

We asked some of our professors how they got into robotics and what advice they would have for those hoping to follow this careers path. Here are their answers…

David Atienza Guess Who
Prof. David Atienza

Never believe something is impossible, this will allow you to try things that people have never tried before and reach what you are trying to do. Also, do not to stick to one research area, you must be very strong in one technical area, but be open to try new things in a multi-disciplinary fashion.

– David Atienza
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Jonas Buchli Guess who
Prof. Jonas Buchli

Probably one of the most important drivers for (academic) success is enthusiasm. And enthusiasm can only blossom if you follow a path that truly engages interests and ultimately captivates you. Don’t take a faculty job as one and the only possibly satisfying target in your life, it’s just too uncertain a career path and there are plenty of very interesting jobs out there. However, if opportunities arise, seize them. They will come in unexpected forms and shapes and it sometimes takes good leap of faith to seize them!”

– Jonas Buchli
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courtine Rock Climbing Passion
Prof. Grégoire Courtine

Be disruptive. The top universities in the world are interested in scientists who explore unknown territories or solve problems using innovative solutions.”

– Grégoire Courtine
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Pierre Dillenbourg Guess Who
Prof. Pierre Dillenbourg

“I wanted to change the world and hence became elementary school teacher. I did so in Bruxelles, and I am still in touch with my pupils, 35 years later. But, I was too young to stop. I went for a master in education, where I discovered AI. Its beauty pushed me to do a PhD in computer science in the UK.”

– Pierre Dillenbourg
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tobi delbruck
Prof. Tobi Delbruck

I knew the only way to learn robotics was to start building robots. I just built the simplest thing I could that no one else had built yet.”

– Tobi Delbruck
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Dario Floreano cooking
Prof. Dario Floreano

It all sounds very difficult, but it gives freedom, intellectual and social stimulation, and a chance to change the world.”

– Dario Floreano
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Roger Gassert Guess Who
Prof. Roger Gassert

I was always fascinated by the ability of humans to learn complex movements, and the devastating consequences of diseases such as stroke, and I remember thinking a few times about pursuing a medical education. Luckily, I have found a field that allows me to combine my interests in engineering and medicine.”

– Roger Gassert
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Marco Hutter
Prof. Marco Hutter

The most important element (besides doing great research) is to engage and integrate with the robotics community. Make a name for yourself. Research is not only about doing great things but also about sharing it with others. Many important meetings and discussions during my (not so long) career happened during a coffee or beer – not uncommonly at special evening times and locations.”

– Marco Hutter
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Prof. Auke Ijspeert

Follow your passion, be ready to move to different places, and interact with people with different technical background. Do not underestimate social aspects.”

– Auke Ijspeert
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Silvestro Micera Guess Who
Prof. Silvestro Micera

I think I can represent a good example of how watching TV and reading comics is not necessarily bad. As a teenager I was crazy about TV shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man, movies such as Star Wars or Marvel comics… I liked (like) technology, cyborgs etc.”

– Silvestro Micera
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Francesco_Mondada_igloo
Prof. Francesco Mondada

I think the greatest challenge is to find the good equilibrium between advanced technology, human interaction, economic impact and use of resources.”

– Francesco Mondada
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Robert Riener
Prof. Robert Riener

They should do what they love to do, where they have most fun. They should not bother if it is in the medical field or if there is a good employment situation. However, if society likes it, because it saves lives, heals, helps or entertains, it has its justification. Students should try to find a focus and get deep into one or two topics and avoid staying too superficial on the surface.”

– Robert Riener
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Davide Scaramuzza Guess Who
Prof. Davide Scaramuzza

My advice to those who are considering studying mobile robotics is to study well electrical and mechanical engineering and, especially, computer science. Most of the advances made in robotics over the last decade have been done in computer science, and also in perception and machine learning.”

– Davide Scaramuzza
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