Hae Won Park (website)


Hae Won Park received her B.S in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from POSTECH, Korea in 2006. For her thesis project, she built a 52cm 23-DOF Humanoid that could walk and follow objects while avoiding obstacles. She has industry experience at Samsung Electronics, which includes mobile-phone hardware/software development and software testing. Her career in Robotics took a first step at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology as a research scientist in the Center for Cognitive Robotics research group. There she managed projects related to object recognition using local PCA features and multi-modal object learning for home robots. Her PhD research at Georgia Tech focuses on Human-Robot Interaction, Multimodal Interface, Machine Learning, and Assistive Technology. She grew up in Seoul, Korea and spent her childhood in Surrey, United Kingdom. Later on, she participated in an exchange program at the University of Waterloo, Canada. During these times, she visited a lot of places around the world, and traveling soon became her best leisure activity. She also enjoys playing tennis, basketball, and snowboarding.

Gregorio Drayer (website)


Gregorio Drayer is a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech, with a minor in aerospace engineering. He works with Dr. Ayanna Howard at the Human-Automation Systems Lab, where he develops a human-oriented multi-agent integration methodology for the automation of complex socio-technical systems. Automation, which is characterized by the use of sensors and feedback, is supposed to make human interaction with these systems less difficult. His idea is to make use of sensor and other kinds of information to combine a variety of control actions depending on the operating condition of such systems. His methodology would help operators gain situational awareness, intervene, and reach different levels of automation if necessary. He currently makes use of a small-scale aquatic habitat for experiments related to life support systems. During his stay at Georgia Tech, Gregorio also participates in the Sam Nunn Security Program of the School of International Affairs, in which he receives intensive training in research approaches and policy formulation methods to address national and international security issues. A native of Venezuela, Gregorio received both Engineer's and Magister's degrees from Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, where he also taught undergraduate courses and received academic tenure. He has received various awards from Caltech, the School of Engineers of Venezuela, and the World Future Society Venezuela. His name appears in the 28th Marquis edition of Who's Who in the World and his Ph.D work is sponsored by the first International Fulbright Science and Technology Scholarship awarded to a Venezuelan by the U.S. Department of State. Gregorio enjoys astronomy, racquetball, dancing, and running waves at the beach. He hopes to become the fi rst Venezuelan astronaut.

Paul Robinette (website)


Paul Robinette is a Robotics PhD student with emphasis in human-robot interaction, artificial intelligent and controls. He received a BS in Physics (2008), a BS in Computer Engineering (2008) and a MS in Computer Engineering (2010) from Missouri University of Science and Technology. During this time, he did work on S&T's entry into IGVC, research for the LAGR project and swarm robotics research with Boeing. At GaTech, Paul is working on  developing robots to assist in the orderly evacuation of buildings during an emergency for the HumAnS Lab and underwater robotic collaboration for GTRI's Robot Lab.

Richard A. Coogle


Rick Coogle received his B.S. in Computer Engineering (Magna cum Laude) in 2003 and M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2006, both from Georgia Tech. Unable to get too much of a good thing, he is now pursuing his PhD in ECE, with a focus in robotics. His interest in robotics was fostered many years ago, when taking a digital design lab course as an undergraduate.  Prior to returning to Georgia Tech, he spent a year and a half at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, working on simulations and embedded software. He also worked five years at Northrop Grumman Technical Services, acting as primary investigator in the R&D effort culminating in the Dynamic Test Stand (DTS), an infrastructure for reconfigurable simulation environments, intended for testing real avionics against simulated avionics and aircraft. He also was a lead engineer for an automated testing extension to the DTS.  He currently works at GTRI, in the field of Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output (MIMO) radar, developing a large-scale simulation for testing MIMO algorithms and techniques. His PhD research is a mixture of field, probabilistic, multi-agent, and behavior-based robotics. A native Georgian (obviously), he grew up in Byron, GA. He enjoys reading, drawing, writing, paleontology, geology, astronomy, numismatics, mathematics, and determining optimal trajectories for moving a virtual character on a television screen.

LaVonda N. Brown


LaVonda Brown is originally from Smithfield, Virginia. In May 2010, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with her B.S. in Electronics Engineering from Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia. LaVonda has received numerous honors and awards, which include the Texas Instruments Fellowship, President’s Fellowship, Class Scholar Award, Dean’s Honor Award, and the Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences (DNIMAS) full-academic scholarship. She has industry work experience with Texas Instruments where she worked with the High Performance Analog (HPA) division as a co-op. As a participant of the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE) program at Georgia Tech, LaVonda gained valuable research experience in the area of energy harvesting using piezoelectric materials. Her most recent research investigates using a Wii Nunchuk to wirelessly control Pleo, an autonomous robotic life form, and assist children with cerebral palsy. LaVonda’s PhD research focuses on closing the achievement gap between underserved and majority students by using a Socially Interactive Robot Tutor (SIRT) to assist children with Math. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, exercising, and dancing.

PhD Students

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Sergio García-Vergara


Originally from Puerto Rico, Sergio García-Vergara graduated magna cum laude from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in June 2011. Sergio has received numerous honors and awards, which include: the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, ECE Marion & Henry Bourne Graduate Fellowship, Goizueta Foundation Fellowship, member of the Dean’s list throughout his studies, and a recipient of the PR-LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Program) scholarship. Sergio and a colleague hold a provisional patent for developing a novel and inexpensive system that allows patients with very limited body mobility to use a joystick controlled wheelchair. Moreover, Sergio participated in two NSF funded programs: SUPERB at the University of California at Berkeley (2010), and SURF at Purdue University (2009). He gained experience in the renewable energy field and in system automation respectively. Sergio is currently pursuing his PhD in ECE, with a focus in controls and robotics. He works under the supervision of Dr. Ayanna Howard in the HumAnS Lab. His PhD research focuses in studying the effects of music in the technological rehabilitation field with the end goal of helping children regain upper body movement. In addition to traveling to new places, Sergio’s hobbies include playing the Puerto Rican guitar, the piano, and enjoying a friendly basketball game.