#WiSW1: Meet Cynthia Breazeal

Meet Cynthia Breazeal

#WomenInScienceWednesday

Breazeal story is a story of a child’s wildest dreams and endless possibilities of technology

Her story with robotics started when she was watching Star Wars at the age of 10 and became captivated with humanoid robotic characters like R2D2 and C3PO but she never dreamed she would be the first designer of Social Robot.

During her doctoral thesis, she co-developed the robot Kismet at the MIT AI Lab with a keen focus on social interaction between humans and humanoid robots. The Kismet and some other robots are currently at MIT Museum.

After NASA landed Sojourner on Mars, she had her Star Wars memory rejuvenated and realized there could be robots designed as an integral part of people’s lives and homes. Finally, her wildest dream crossed path with her intellectual prowess and she knew she had to take the chance to bring an impossible dream to reality.

ELECTRICAL & COMPUTER ENGINEERING [BSc., University of California, Santa Barbara; MSc., MIT; Sc.D., MIT]

She asked herself:

“What would it mean to build a robot with social and emotional intelligence that can ultimately do things in collaboration with people?”

From that moment, her work balances technical innovation in AI, UX design, and understanding the psychology of engagement to design personified AI technologies that promote human productivity by means of interaction and building relationships.

She knew that building a social humanoid robot that could deal with the human environment would be most daring but her dream was too strong for the challenges she encountered. Her fascination with Star Wars stayed with her through college, so she began taking more robotics classes. Then she read an article about planetary rovers and decided she might want to be an astronaut.

After years of research and design, she designed the world’s first family robot called Jibo and founded the robotics company, Jibo, Inc., where she served as Chief Scientist and Chief Experience Officer.

Her motive for designing Jibo was to help families succeed and foster a culture of innovation and sense of support in the environment. She thinks technology can be a huge positive force for families if it’s designed the right way.

She leads strategic initiatives in areas such a democratizing AI through K-12 and vocational education. Her research group actively investigates the application of social robots to education, pediatrics, health and wellness, and aging.

In an interview she granted, she said:

“That thing that happened when I was 10 that allowed me to pursue something I was deeply personally passionate about, but wasn’t just a passion, it was a vision,” she said. “I feel fortunate that I can really chase that dream, because it’s an ambitious dream.”

Breazeal’s story inspires kids and teenagers never to doubt their dreams even when it sounds crazy. Your dream gives you passion and passion makes you love what you do.

#WomenInScienceWednesday

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