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October 25, 2019

WPI receives $3M to study human-robot workplace interaction

Photo | Grant Welker Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has received a five-year, $3-million National Science Foundation to fund training for 120 graduate students to prepare them for robotic assistants in the workplace.

The career-focused grant is designed to provide training to graduate students to benefit them as they transition to work environments, according to a release from WPI. The grant is expected to train 120 master’s degree and Ph.D. students from mechanical engineering, robotics engineering, computer science, materials science, and user experience design in WPI’s Foisie Business School. The program will be named Future of Robots in the Workplace - Research & Development (FORW-RD).

The FORW-RD seminars will address ethical, social, economic, legal, and technical issues related to the use of robots in the workplace.

“We need to continually ask questions so that advisors and students can think about larger issues,” said Cagdas Onal, associate professor of mechanical engineering at WPI who is the principal investigator on the grant, in a press release. “This program is not just about doing technology development and figuring out new algorithms. It’s about making sure the programs are perceived correctly and done right for everyone’s benefit.”

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