Robots will steal (some of) our jobs, and this may not necessarily be a bad thing. It is inevitable that robotic interfaces and assistants will play a bigger role in the workplace in the decades ahead of us. Yet, as current robotics research shows, robots perform better at tasks that are considerably difficult for humans and fail in tasks that are easy for humans. As such, the future of work depends on how well we can establish a division of labor between robots and humans, so that robots will perform tasks that are risky and dangerous, and humans will focus on higher-level, more meaningful, and yet easier, value-added activities that are less strenuous.

Led by a team of Principal Investigators (PI) from Robotics, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Material Science, Business School, Social Sciences and Humanities, the FORW-RD program focuses on the adoption of robotic interfaces and assistants in the workplace. We plan to train a total of 120 MS- and PhD-level students over 5 years, including awards of 30 one-year NRT training stipends to PhD–level trainees. We aim to recruit and retain a diverse group of trainees.

Each MS/PhD student will complete their thesis/dissertation on an aspect of human-robot interfacing in the workplace. Students will be required to attend the FORW-RD Thinking Seminar Series in their first year and the Flash FORW-RD Workshops in their second year. Internships are recommended in the summer of the first or second year. Experienced trainees will help with recruiting and mentor 1st-year trainees. Based on their level of experience they may also co-advise undergraduate and graduate projects.