The UHCL Center for Robotics Software was officially launched Wednesday, June 7, 2017 with a reservation-only kick-off event for academia, NASA, aerospace and Oceaneering contractors and other companies involved in robotics.
The Center was conceived during consultation with key members of the NASA and local community. The Center’s main purpose is to leverage the technical infrastructure that exists between NASA, academia, and industry to identify and solve challenging automation and robotics problems. The emphasis is on applications of the Robot Operating System for controlling robots.
At the kickoff, speakers included Robert O. Ambrose, division chief of NASA’s Software, Robotics and Simulation Division, NASA Robotics Engineer Kimberly Hambuchen, Jacobs Oceaneering Space System’s Court Edmonson, UHCL Assistant Professor of Computer Engineering Luong Nguyen and Carol Fairchild.
Dr. Harman is the Director and Carol Fairchild is the Co-director of the Center. During the talk, they presented the Center’s goals for collaboration as well as described the latest robotics activity at UHCL. The department of Computer Engineering now has a specialization in Robotics that allows students to enhance their degrees by studying the latest technical aspects in this exciting field.
To view presentations from the CRS kick-off event, visit the CRS YouTube channel.
Center for Robotics Software Personnel
The Center for Robotics Software is operated by faculty members and visiting researchers from University of Houston-Clear Lake's College of Science and Engineering.
Dr. Thomas L. Harman is the chair of the Engineering Department and Professor of Computer Engineering at UHCL. Dr. Harman began his full-time career at UHCL in 1979. Before that he was a staff engineer in the Controls System Department of Lockheed Engineering. His Ph.D. was granted by Rice University in Electrical Engineering. He was the UHCL Distinguished and Endowed Professor 2005-2007, and again in 2016-2017.
His research interests are control systems and applications of robotics and microprocessors. Several of his research papers with colleagues involve robotic and laser applications in medicine. Dr. Harman has authored or co-authored 18 books on subjects including robotics, microprocessors, MATLAB and Simulink applications and the National Electrical Code. His laboratory at UHCL has a Baxter two-armed robot and several TurtleBots as well as other robots.
With the co-director of the Center for Robotics Software, Carol Fairchild, he has co-authored a book on robotics, ROS Robotics by Example, 2nd edition, published in November 2017. He has authored or coauthored 60 conference or journal publications.
Carol Fairchild is the Co-Director of the Center for Robotics Software and an inaugural researcher in Baxter’s Lab at UHCL. Her research involves the use of Baxter for expanded applications and she has numerous projects with the mobile, limbed and aerial robots. She is also a member of the adjunct faculty, teaching a robotics elective and various computer engineering labs.
Ms. Fairchild is also owner and principal engineer of Fairchild Robotics, a robotics development and integration company. She has been involved in many aspects of robotics from her earliest days of building her first robot, a Heathkit Hero. She is an alum of UHCL with an MS in computer engineering and a BS in engineering technology from Texas A&M.
She and Dr. Harman have co-written the book, ROS Robotics by Example 2nd edition; an updated edition which reflects the latest software version of ROS: Kinetic Kame.
Ms. Fairchild is also actively involved in implementing STEM curriculum and expanding a robotics program at a K-8 private school in southwest Houston. She has taught middle-school robotics, coached FIRST LEGO League, and volunteered for FIRST Robotics.