Henrik Christensen to Receive 2011 Engelberger Award for Robotics


Henrik Christensen, KUKA Professor of Robotics and director of the Robotics & Intelligent Machines Center at Georgia Tech (RIM@GT), with KUKA industrial robots at a Coca-Cola bottling plant.

February 12, 2011

ATLANTA – Feb. 14, 2011 – Henrik Christensen, KUKA Chair of Robotics in the Georgia Tech College of Computing’s School of Interactive Computing, has been selected to receive the 2011 Engelberger Robotics Award for Education, considered the world’s top honor in the field of robotics, for his leadership in the international robotics industry.

Christensen also serves as director of the Robotics & Intelligent Machines Center at Georgia Tech (RIM@GT). In May 2009 he appeared before Congress to deliver the report “From Internet to Robotics: A Roadmap for U.S. Robotics.” Christensen led a group of 160 people in preparing the report, which has prompted spinoff research programs in federal agencies from the National Institutes of Health to the Department of Defense. From 2004 to 2006, while serving as a chaired professor in robotics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, he led an effort to produce a similar roadmap for the European Union.

In January 2011, 11 presidents of universities with robotics programs sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama endorsing the U.S. roadmap report and pledging their action on several of its recommendations.

"It's not every day a Georgia Tech faculty member is asked to lead a group that will chart the way forward for an entire nation in a major area of scientific research and industry—and Henrik has now done it twice,” said Zvi Galil, John P. Imlay Jr. Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech. “I’m very proud of him for receiving the Engelberger Award but not at all surprised. He is one of our most distinguished faculty members and an international leader in the field of robotics. Under Henrik’s guidance, Georgia Tech is building one of the finest robotics research programs in the world, and this award is just a hint of the great things to come."

Christensen will receive the award at a ceremony to be held March 22 in Chicago, in conjunction with the 42nd International Symposium on Robotics and Automate 2011. Bestowed by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the award is named after Joseph Engelberger, founder of Unimation Inc. and widely known as the “father of robotics.” It carries an honorarium of $5,000. Also receiving a 2011 Engelberger Award will be Ake Lindqvist, who recently retired as vice president and head of automotive global product sales for ABB Robotics.

“I’m deeply honored to receive this award, and I thank the RIA for considering me a worthy recipient,” Christensen said. “This is a great example of how Georgia Tech as an institution not only educates ‘a helluva engineer’ but also plays an important role in leading-edge research and the formulation of national policies. For RIM@GT, the Engelberger Award will open a number of new doors to allow us to pursue more and bigger cooperative projects in robotics research and development.”

A native of Denmark, Christensen earned his master’s (1987) and doctoral (1990) degrees in electrical engineering from Aalborg University. His research focuses on systems integration, human-robot interaction, mapping and robot vision. He has published more than 250 contributions across artificial intelligence, robotics and vision. He came to Georgia Tech in 2006.

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