Saturday, January 21, 2017

Robotics Event!

What is the difference between a robot and a cyborg and an android and an avatar? There are both fear and fantasy floating around about robots, and in popular imagination the lines are getting blurred concerning these different but seemingly associated technologies. Join us at the library for a special library STEM event on Tuesday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Public Library.

JPL Robotics Engineer Megan Richardson will disambiguate things for you as she surveys the field of robotics in a talk that will feature some amazing clips of robots in action. She will explain some basic principles about what a robot is, why we build them, and how they work (vision and mobility) as she addresses some common myths. She will give an overview of current and possible future developments in the field of robotics, and talk a bit about how the technology developed for space is linked to new or anticipated technology advances in our daily living, like the self-driving cars that have been in the news recently.

Ms. Richardson’s specialty is designing and building robots for space exploration. She is currently working with the Curiosity Rover on Mars, leading a team at JPL that is trying to solve some recent problems with the drill mechanism. So you will get to learn something about the excitement and challenges of working in this field from someone with hands-on experience.

The library is committed to encouraging young people to consider careers in science, technology, and engineering, and in particular we want to show young women that there is a place for them in these fields, that they can pursue their interests in these subjects and make creative and important contributions the way Ms. Richardson is doing. The library hosted a program last year on the Rise of the Rocket Girls, a book that featured the women at JPL who had worked behind the scenes on the vital calculations for the space program, and there is much current interest in the women who did the mathematics and computing for the space program in Florida during that same period as featured in the popular current film Hidden Figures.

Ms. Richardson will be bringing along a special guest to this event: NASA’s little demonstration space rover Rov-E, who we understand will do a few tricks involving audience participation. It should be an informative and fun evening. All the library’s public events are free to the public; we think this one is going to be popular, so you might want to arrive a bit early!

Please note that students who attend this program for extra credit will be given a proof of attendance sheet at the end of the program.

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