Photo: Jason Dorfman, CSAIL photographer
Where did you grow up: I grew up in Orange County, California in the city of Santa Ana.
What was your academic path before coming to grad school at MIT? College didn't really appeal to me after high school, and my performance there was poor enough that getting accepted at even a local state college was a shot in the dark. After graduating high school, I decided to find a job and ended up working retail for about four years (at my local Home Depot). That experience was a real eye opener and eventually I decided to go back to school. I enrolled at Fullerton Community College and after about two years I transferred to the University of Southern California (USC), where I graduated with a B.S. in Computer Engineering. After graduation I left the U.S. to work on humanoid robots in Japan, and subsequently returned to the U.S. and worked on robotics at NASA. I then came to MIT.
What department are you currently working in, and when did you start there? I joined the EECS Computer Science grad program at MIT in the Fall of 2005.
What are you working on and why are you passionate about it? My research is in robotics and AI. My passion in robotics is really twofold. For one, my childhood fascination with fictional movie robot characters continues to be one of my big motivations. In essence, those movies represent the holy grail of robotics for me, where man and intelligent machine coexist in a social setting. Second, the inter-disciplinary nature of the research is incredibly exciting. Robotics spans multiple fields that range from computer science and mechanical engineering to neuroscience and psychology, and being able to play a part in the merging of these fields is an amazing learning experience.
What are your future plans? I'd like to take some time to travel the world, even if it's just for a short period. On the engineering side of things, I'd like to either join or start my own robotics and animatronics studio for major motion pictures and have the opportunity to entertain millions of people around the world through the big screen.
Is there anything else you'd like to share? Fun Fact: I've been a rock drummer for about 13 years and still love to write and play music.