With Amazon’s help, Howard to build ‘RoboLab’ on campus

Howard University has expanded its already broad partnership with Amazon to include a robotics program, aiming to address diversity issues in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The university announced plans to expand its collaborative program on May 8, just days before President Joe Biden attended the university’s commencement ceremony at D.C.’s Capital One Arena.

The plan includes constructing the Howard “RoboLab” where students and professors will have access to robotic equipment to work on developing prototypes and testing. In addition, Howard will add “robotics-specific” classes to its course offerings.

“Our diverse and exceptionally talented students and faculty are prepared to take full advantage of the unique opportunities provided by our collaboration with Amazon through the Howard Robolab,” said John M. M. Anderson, dean of the Howard University College of Engineering and Architecture.

Anderson said that students and faculty at the historically Black university would gain unique access to educational and research experiences through the robotics partnership

“Together with Amazon, we recognize the critical importance of diversity in robotics and are excited that our students are working with an industry partner at the forefront of this important field,” Anderson continued.

Amazon Robotics chief technology officer Tye Brady said that the collaboration will also help to increase course offerings at the university meant to address challenges in robotics.

“When we first engaged with Howard, we were really impressed with their computer science program and the passion the professors had for engineering,” Brady said. “That really resonated with us and gave us confidence that we can conduct groundbreaking research with Howard.”

Howard University has already benefited from funding for research and educational projects through Amazon in recent years.

The company was responsible for crafting a 2019 course that encouraged diversity in entertainment and a new master’s degree program for data science at the HBCU in 2021 in it’s push for increasing STEM and Arts education.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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