Robotics, Sensors and Advanced Manufacturing MnDRIVE Spring 2017 Symposium

Event Date: 
Friday, March 31, 2017 - 8:30am to 3:30pm

Please join us for an exciting day of networking and presentations. Learn about the latest research in robotics, sensors and advanced manufacturing at our annual symposium. Engage with faculty and industry researchers via seminars and interactive sessions.

Robotics, Sensors and Advanced Manufacturing MnDRIVE Spring 2017 Symposium

University of Minnesota
Weisman Art Museum
333 East River Parkway, Minneapolis

Parking is available in the Weisman Museum Garage.

There is no charge for this event, but registration is required.

Registration is now closed. If you would like to attend, send an email to

Event Schedule:

8:30 a.m. Registration

9 a.m. Welcome and Symposium Overview
Mos Kaveh, Associate Dean, University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering
Volkan Isler, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering

9:15 a.m. Plenary Talk 

Field Robotics: Ready now to deal with 
Dull, Dirty & Dangerous? 
Sanjiv Singh, Professor, Carnegie Mellon University, 
CEO, NearEarth Autonomy

10 a.m. Industry Session 
Introduction by Saad Bedros, MnDRIVE industrial relations coordinator, followed by interactive session with industry R&D staff

11 a.m. Research overview
Mos Kaveh, Associate Dean, University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering

11:45 a.m. Lunch and Poster Session

1:15 p.m. Plenary Talk 

Thread and Weave: Reinventing the Internet Wheel or Optimizing a Wheel for a New Things Race with Internet Technologies? 
Grant Erickson, Principal Engineer, 
Alphabet/Google/Nest, President, Thread Group 

2 p.m.  Plenary Talk 

Bridging the Chasm 
Andrew Ouderkirk, Research Scientist, 
Facebook Oculus

2:45 p.m. Wrap up comments

Speaker bios

Sanjiv Singh
Professor, Carnegie Mellon University; CEO, NearEarth Autonomy

Sanjiv Singh is an educator, innovator, and entrepreneur.  He is  a research professor at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University and the CEO of Near Earth Autonomy, a startup that develops autonomy for next generation aircraft that will inspect infrastructure, deliver cargo, and transport people. Singh started his career working on self-driving cars in 1985 and led a project to demonstrate “fast navigation” for autonomous mining trucks, almost two decades before such capability was common. In 1995, his Ph.D. thesis in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University developed optimization theory for the automation of earth moving and in 2000, he demonstrated an autonomous 25-ton excavator. From 2008 to 2012, Singh led a national team to demonstrate automation of robots in specialty agriculture, under a  project funded by the USDA. Singh has also been a pioneer in the development of intelligent air vehicles. In 2006, he led the first team to fly a drone at high speeds between wires, trees, and buildings. In 2010, he led the first effort to automate a full-scale helicopter for a Medevac mission and currently leads key technology developments for a DOD program to develop autonomous cargo delivery. Singh is funded by the Office of Naval Research, Air Force, DARPA, ARPA-e, and NASA.  He is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and 18 patents. He is the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Field Robotics.

Grant Erickson
Principal Engineer, Alphabet/Google/Nest; President, Thread Group

Grant Erickson brings a passion for disruptive, market-changing innovation and a big-picture approach to products and marketplace solutions. Erickson is currently a principal engineer at Alphabet/Google/Nest, where he oversees the technical development of platform software designed to support Bluetooth Low Energy, Thread, WiFi, and Weave. In his role, he was also an early contributor to the formation of the Thread Group and Thread networking protocol. He is currently also president of the Thread Group Board of Directors.

Prior to Alphabet/Google/Nest, Erickson was a senior engineer and project manager for Apple, Inc. in Cupertino, CA, working on its mobile entertainment products, including both the iPod and iPhone lines. Prior to joining Apple, Erickson was an early member of the software team at Brocade Communications Systems in San Jose, CA, working in various engineering capacities across their edge, mid-range, and enterprise storage networking product lines. Before that, he worked on the Global File System, which would later be spun off into Sistina Software and eventually be acquired by Red Hat. In addition, Erickson held positions at Ciprico and Control Data Systems. Erickson holds both an master’s and bachelor’s (magna cum laude) in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.

Andrew Ouderkirk
Research Scientist, Facebook Oculus

Andrew Ouderkirk is a senior researcher developing imaging technology at Facebook-Oculus. Prior to Facebook, Ouderkirk spent 30 years at 3M as a corporate scientist developing new product platforms and establishing entrepreneurial teams within 3M’s electronics and energy business. Ouderkirk formed and led the team that developed 3M’s Multilayer Optical Film platform, which includes the world’s first commercially successful reflective polarizer, now commonly used in smartphones, tablets, and TVs. While at 3M, Ouderkirk took a lead role in developing culture and processes for platforms and entrepreneurial activities.

An inventor with 201 issued U.S. patents, Ouderkirk is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, was awarded the Fast Company Fast 50, the American Chemical Society Award for creative invention, and the R&D Magazine Innovator of the year. He has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Northwestern University.