Why CMU Is Transforming Former Barnes & Noble Into New Space For Robotics Institute

Why CMU Is Transforming Former Barnes & Noble Into New Space For Robotics Institute

If you have ever ventured into the streets of Forbes and Murray in Squirrel Hill before 2010syou can find humble but lovable Company: Barnes & Noble Offers coffee and books. However, in recent years, the site has been vacant.

Matthew Johnson Roberson He walked into the empty space almost every day on his way to lunch and lamented that it hadn’t been used. Now, as a director of Robotics Institute in Carnegie Mellon University school of computer scienceJohnson Roberson said Technical He realized there was a way to meet the Auckland Research Foundation’s need for additional space and put the 16,000-square-foot former library to good use.

By the end of October, professors Jin ohAnd the Zack Manchester And the Sebastian Shearer They will have moved their research teams of 75 people into the building. This marks a chapter for the institute as it continually reflects on the role robots play in our present and future, Johnson-Roberson said. with the Robotics Innovation Center Another part of the institute aims to provide space for robotics researchers to focus on research, integration and marketing – and is due to open in Hazelwood Green Soon, this is the time for the institute to grow.

“I believe that robots are going to become an increasingly larger and larger part of the daily lives of people everywhere,” Johnson-Roberson said. “This means that you will work alongside the robot, and you will use a robot to do your job better. You will get products made by robots or delivered by robots, or you will buy a robot to help you in your home.”

Former Barnes & Noble space. (Screenshot via Google Maps)

Thus, the institute’s leadership feels that it is time to invest in research that increases human well-being. This means that the institute wants to create more educational programs, hire more people and think about what robotic companies will need in the way of support, while trying to answer the larger ethical questions in the field.

“It’s not just how do we build it, but why should we build this robot versus this robot? Or what are the ethical implications of such a system? And how do we build it responsibly?” Johnson-Roberson said. “And what are the right ways to think about how robots or just some of the existing economic or social systems fit into and how we hope all of this will lead to a happier and healthier society?”

Accordingly, the institute has appointed technical staff and professors to assist with the teaching and research of “thought leaders,” the director said – experts who can “act as public educators to contribute to the conversation about where robotics is heading and what we should do with it.” The institute’s staff currently consists of 1,100 people, including master’s and doctoral degrees. candidates, with plans to hire more.

The Robotics Institute is also a partner in some projects that have received funding recently Rebuilding the regional challenge better grant program. This includes Expanded Pathways to Entrepreneurship project led InnovatePGH and the Expansion of robots for small and medium enterprises project led catalytic contact Which will aim to make the field of robotics more comprehensive and modernize the manufacturing business, respectively.

After nearly a year as director of the Robotics Institute, Johnson-Roberson feels his time at Carnegie Mellon has been well spent, and looks forward to helping make the institute and the institution as a whole more inclusive.

“We are thinking critically about how we can make not only robotics, but all of our educational programs at Carnegie Mellon University a vastly more diverse and inclusive place,” he said. “So all I feel is that this year has gone really well so far.”


Atiya Ervin-Mitchell is a member of the 2022-2023 team for Report for America, an initiative of the Groundtruth Project that brings together young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by Heinz Endowments. -30-


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