Funds Red Whittaker Endowed Field Robotics Fellowship

The Red Whittaker Endowed Robotics Fellowship, created by alumni and friends in honor of longtime professor Red Whittaker, provides fellowship support within the discipline of field robotics, to include cross-disciplinary work in computer science, engineering, and related disciplines, with a preference for master’ s or Ph.D. students in at least their second year in the school of Computer Science or College of Engineering.

About Red

Red Whittaker is the father of field robotics, known for his pioneering methods, tenacity and “get it done” mentality. His firsts include autonomous driving, nuclear accident cleanup, robotic excavation, tractor automation, mine truck automation and space exploration innovation. These breakthroughs transformed beliefs, established new disciplines, impacted the world and seeded great futures. His win of a driverless car race ignited the automotive automation industry.

At CMU, Red founded the Field Robotics Center and the National Robotics Engineering Center, spun companies and spawned generations of roboticists. Red is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and received the Feigenbaum Prize, Ramos Medal and Columbia Medal — among many other recognitions. In 2019, he was named one of the Top 50 Greatest Pittsburghers of All Time.

While Red’s contributions have changed the world, he’s also made a lasting impact through the students and colleagues he’s mentored. Many of them play major roles in the continuing development, application and fulfillment of field robotics worldwide. To Red, these former students and colleagues are his life’s work, his children and the mark he’ll leave on the world.

What the Fellowship will do

The Red Whittaker Endowed Field Robotics Fellowship aims to ensure the continuity of Red’s legacy by supporting master’s and Ph.D.-level students in at least their second year of study in field robotics at CMU — the field that helps create automation in industries like mining, farming, construction, transportation, logistics, infrastructure, environment and exploration. It also includes cross-disciplinary work in computer science, engineering and related disciplines. In the future, as field robotics evolves, the Whittaker Fellowship may provide funds for fields deemed similar or successors to field robotics.

When evaluating students who will receive support from the Whittaker Fellowship, university leadership will be encouraged to consider individuals who have a pioneering, inventive and competitive spirit; are known for being bold and resilient in their approaches to experimentation and research; are willing to go the extra mile to accomplish goals; and are not discouraged by limited resources or threat of failure. All students who are beneficiaries of the fund will be encouraged to give a public talk on the Pittsburgh campus about their research and accomplishments during their final years of study.

Keywords: Fellowships, Faculty & Student Support

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