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Center for Robotics Software Mission Statement

The main purpose of the Center For Robotics Software is to leverage the technical infrastructure that exists between NASA, academia, and industry to identify and solve challenging robotics problems. Dr. Thomas L. Harman is the director and Carol Fairchild is the co-director.

Meet the Center for Robotics Software Team

Thomas L. Harman

Dr. Thomas L. Harman is the chair of the Engineering Department at the University of Houston Clear Lake (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 is the Director of the Center for Robotics Software recently formed at UHCL. The center’s purpose is to involve NASA, industry, and other universities in robotics education and research.

His research interests are control systems and applications of robotics and microprocessors. Several of his research papers with colleagues involved robot and laser applications to medicine. In 2005 and again in 2016-7, he was selected as the UHCL Distinguished Professor. He has been a judge and a safety advisor in the FIRST robotic contests in Houston.

Dr. Harman has authored or co-authored 18 books on subjects including microprocessors, MATLAB and Simulink applications, and the National Electrical Code. He has authored or coauthored 60 conference or journal publications.
With the co-director of the Center for Robotics Software, Carol Fairchild, he has co-authored a book on robotics ROS Robotics by Example published in July 2016. He and Carol have updated the book for the latest version of the ROS software (Kinetic) with an expected publication date of February 2018. 

His laboratory at UHCL has a Baxter two-armed robot and several mobile TurtleBots, flying drones, and other robots. UHCL students have participated in several robotic contents including the NASA Swarmathon held at KSC.

Carol Fairchild

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 and aerial robots in the lab. 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 a book, ROS Robotics by Example and are currently working on an updated edition to reflect the latest software version of ROS, Kinetic.

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 FLL, and volunteered for FIRST Robotics.

Dr. Nguyen Assistant Professor UHCL in Computer Engineering

Dr. Nguyen has his Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering from Rice University. Dr. Nguyen is an expert in modeling and real-time simulation of flexible multibody dynamics and control for Space Shuttle, Space Station and Japanese robotic remote manipulator systems. Extensive problem solving background in dynamic simulation of space vehicles and robotic manipulator systems. Developed the first Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) control system and real-time simulation at Johnson Space Center.

He has taught graduate level courses in Robotics and Digital Control Systems and supervised graduate students in their thesis research at UHCL. He also taught Robotics and Digital Control Systems courses at Lockheed Martin/Houston. Dr. Nguyen has worked over the years with Dr. Harman on various robotics projects.
His recent work includes developing a dynamic simulation for the NASA R2 Robonaut space robot at Johnson Space Center, Houston.

Liz Lundgren, Visiting Researcher

Visiting Robotics Researcher in the Department of Engineering, Center for Robotic Software at UHCL. Areas of interest include artificial intelligence, humanoid robots, ROS communications, and mobile robots. Liz is working on her Master’s degree in Engineering at UHCL. She has a Msater’s degree from UH in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. In addition, Liz studies Music at Berklee College of Music.

Michael Christian, Visiting Researcher  2017 

As a visiting researcher, Michael will conduct research on "Baxter research robot and Applications" with Dr. Thomas Harman in the Robotics and Control Systems Laboratory in Delta 125 (Baxter’s Lab). Michael completed his MS degree at UHCL in Computer Engineering. Michael has programmed Baxter perform tasks using the Robot Operating System’s State Machine. He is also a magician!

Nabil  Farhat  GB Tech Student Research Scholarship 2017

Master of Science - MS, Computer Engineering, 2017 – 2019. Nabil will be working with Dr. Nguyen on a project to control Baxter the robot with a sophisticated joystick with 6 degrees-of-freedom.


Renu Khator • Chancellor's Report
UH System Board of Regents Meeting •  August 2017

UH-Clear Lake Achievements
New Center to Focus on Robotics

Representatives from NASA and aerospace contracting companies gathered in early June at a kickoff event for the new UHCL Center for Robotics Software. The center, led by Thomas Harman, Ph.D., professor of computer engineering, will focus on solving problems and creating solutions for using the Robot Operating System, or ROS. The center will also offer workshops and seminars to interested individuals or organizations and provide UHCL students with opportunities for internships and future employment. 



UH-Clear Lake hosts Center for Robotic Software with kickoff event

UH-Clear Lake hosts Center for Robotic Software with kickoff event

Houston Robotics and AI Day showcases area research, technology

Houston Robotics and AI Day showcases area research, technology

July 21, 2017
Area educators, engineers and students gathered at University of Houston-Clear Lake for the Houston Robotics and AI Day on Friday, July 21 for presentations and demonstrations of the latest research and applications of robotics and artificial-intelligence technology. Read More


Robotics and AI Day provides a showcase of what is, what can be

August 14, 2017
Three wide-eyed middle-school students stood over Turtlebot 3 “Burger,” one of the latest robots procured by University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Center for Robotics Software. Under eight inches tall, it doesn’t look much like a robot. It doesn’t look anything at all like a turtle, let alone a hamburger. Read More


Robotics and AI Day provides a showcase of what is, what can be





Date Presentation
April 25, 2017  

UHCL Library

Robotics presentation and Introduction of our book “ROS Robotics By Example” by Carol Fairchild and Thomas L. Harman. Several robots were demonstrated for the librarians and the students who attended the presentation.

August 2, 2017

JSC SBC (Small Business Council) Event UHCL - Keynote Speaker

They, the JSC SBC leaders, would like to have you (Dr. Harman ) as the Keynote Speaker for the event. They felt that the attendees would love to hear about you and your robotics lab. Denise Navarro, CEO of Logical Innovations, suggested you as the speaker for the event. Denise attended your Center for Robotics Software kickoff event.  Companies such as All Points Logistics, Barrios, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Logical Innovations, MEI Technologies, NASA, et al. were present at the event. Dr. Harman described the Center for Robotics Software and the Robotics program at UHCL. The new president, Dr. Ira Blake, also attended and introduced herself.

August 10, 2017

Commercial Robotics Tech Champs South

Dr. Harman was among the speakers at the Houston Technical Centers (HTC) meeting in August. Boardwalk Inn, 8 Kemah Water Front, Kemah, Texas 77565. Dr. Harman discussed the robotics programs at UHCL and spoke about the Center for Robotics Software. He emphasized the possibility of collaboration between UHCL and local companies and NASA for robotics projects. Dr. Reg Berka, vise-president of Houston Mechatronics also spoke about robotics activities at his company.  Dr. Berka works with the UHCL robotics group and has taught as an adjunct faculty member. He was formerly one of the directors of the robotics group at NASA JSC. Other speakers included:

  •  Court Edmondson project manager, valkyrie, jacobs engineering
  • Reg Berka, Ph.D. svp operations & coo, Houston Mechatronics, inc.
  • John “jack” James lead, ip & technology transfer group at NASA JSC
  • Nick Tillmann director of client acceleration, HTC
Sept 21, 2017

NASA Alumni League-JSC Chapter - – UHCL Robotics Tour

A number of retired NASA engineers and managers were welcomed to UHCL by Dr. Harman and Carol Fairchild. After a presentation about UHCL Robotics and the Center for Robotics Software, the group visited Baxter’s lab for a show of Baxter the robot packaging golf balls using the vision system and performing the “YMCA” motions using the State Machine capability of the Robot Operating System.

October 20, /2017

“Robots are Coming!  Get Ready!”

Carol Fairchild gave a Robotics Talk -  -  at the “Friday Morning Continuing Education Meeting” at UHCL.

May 18 - 19, 2017

In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower - Paris, France  

Assistant Professor of Computer Engineering Luong A. Nguyen, Professor of Computer Engineering Thomas L. Harman along with Elihu Deneke, a master’s of engineering graduate from Texas A&M Prairie View, are authors of “Multithreading/Multiprocessing Simulation of The International Space Station Multibody System Using a Divide and Conquer Dynamics Formulation with Flexible Bodies.”  While it may look easy when watching videos of the International Space Station’s robot arm grappling a spacecraft and docking it, elbowing a new module into place and deftly floating an astronaut into position for outside repairs, the computational instructions to program such fluid and precise movements – especially in microgravity -- is far more complex. In May, Nguyen presented the research in Paris at the 19th International Conference on Autonomous Robots and Agents, part of the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology.  

October 28, 2017

Dual Conference at NASA JSC

  • “The UHCL Center for Robotics Software”, Thomas L. Harman, Ph.D., Carol Fairchild, and Luong Nguyen, Ph.D.
  • Cartesian Space Velocity Control for Baxter with A 3DConnexion Space Mouse Pro Device”,  Nabil Farhat, Luong Nguyen, Thomas L. Harman, Carol Fairchild
November 6, 2017

Advances in Robotics and the Robot Operating System

Delta Computing and Engineering Colloquium “The UHCL Center for Robotics Software”, Thomas L. Harman Ph.D., and Carol Fairchild

The UHCL Center for Robotics Software was officially launched Wednesday, June 7, 2017 with a reservation-only kick-off 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 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.



 Workshops and Conference Attendance


Date Presentation
January 2017

Consumer Electronics Show  (CES) 

Dr. Thomas L. Harman and his wife Karen attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas during the week of January 4th 2017.  The show was attended by over 170,000 people from around the world. In particular, Dr. Harman was interested in advanced technology involving robotics. Flying robots, mobile robots, underwater robots, social robots, health-care robots and a self-driving BMW that demonstrated the trick of self parking highlighted the show for Harman. He met a number of entrepreneurs and engineers and participated in many enlightening discussions.

For 50 years, CES has been the launch pad for new innovation and technology that has changed the world. Held in Las Vegas every year, it is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies and where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace.

CES, formerly The International Consumer Electronics Show (International CES®), showcases more than 3,900 exhibiting companies, including manufacturers, developers and suppliers of consumer technology hardware, content, technology delivery systems and more; a conference program with more than 300 conference sessions and more than 170K attendees from 150 countries.

 May 22-25, 2017

 National Instruments Week 

     Dr. Harman attended the National Instruments event in Austin, Texas.