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Ayanna Howard Named Associate Chair for Faculty Development

Atlanta, GA

Ayanna Howard has been named associate chair for faculty development in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), effective April 1. She succeeds Andrew F. Peterson who served in this position since 2002.

The ECE associate chair for faculty development is in charge of the School’s reappointment, promotion, and tenure process and the periodic peer review process. This position also assists in faculty annual reviews and is involved with the School’s Roger P. Webb Awards Program and the ECE Faculty Honors Committee.

“Ayanna will do an exceptional job in this extremely important role for the School,” said Steven W. McLaughlin, Steve W. Chaddick School Chair and Professor. “I am very happy to have such an accomplished and strategic-thinking colleague on the ECE leadership team, and I believe that our faculty will benefit in working with her in the years to come.”

An ECE faculty member since 2005, Howard holds the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Chair in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and serves as the director of the Human-Automation Systems Lab. Prior to her appointment as the Smith Chair in August 2015, Howard held the Motorola Foundation Professorship for three years. In addition, she served as the chair of the Institute’s multidisciplinary robotics Ph.D. program and currently leads a team of Georgia Tech and Emory University faculty that are developing degree programs in healthcare robotics, the first of their kinds in the United States.

Howard's research is centered on the concept of humanized intelligence, the process of embedding human cognitive ability into the control path of autonomous systems. Her work has resulted in over 200 peer-reviewed publications about projects ranging from scientific rover navigation in glacier environments to assistive robots for the home. Some new research directions include robotic applications for child therapy and rehabilitation, tele-presence for persons with visual impairments, haptic and wearable device interfaces, behavior modeling for diagnosis and intervention, and medical and health care mobile apps.

Howard is the founder and chief technology officer of Zyrobotics, LLC. Launched in September 2013, the company is commercializing assistive technology that enables children with limited mobility to operate tablet computers, smart phones, toys, gaming apps, and interactive robots.

To date, Howard’s work has been highlighted through a number of awards, articles, and televised interviews and programs, including USA TodayTIME Magazine, CNN, and American Public Television. Her recent awards include the 2013 Class of 1934 Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award; the 2008 Georgia Tech Faculty Woman of Distinction Award; the 2008 ECE Outreach Award; the 2009 Janice A. Lumpkin Educator of the Year Award, given by the National Society of Black Engineers; the 2014 A. Richard Newton ABIE Award; and the 2016 A. Nico Habermann Award, given by the Computing Research Association. In 2015, she was named as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider.

“I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with our faculty to ensure the world continues to know about all their great accomplishments and all the great things we do in ECE,” said Howard. “I’m looking forward to making sure opportunities are made available for our faculty to advance their development and growth in all ways possible.”

Last revised May 15, 2020