Ambassadors Experience America at NREC

U.S. State Department Brings Diplomats to Pittsburgh

Malaysian ambassador and CHIMP robot

Zulhasnan Rafique, the Malaysian ambassador to the U.S., gets a close look at the CHIMP robot during a May 23 visit to NREC arranged by the U.S. State Department.

More than 30 ambassadors and their spouses visited the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) on Tuesday, May 23, as part of the U.S. State Department's latest "Experience America" trip to Pittsburgh.

Carnegie Mellon Provost Farnam Jahanian, NREC Director Herman Herman and Robotics Professor Illah Nourbakhsh spoke to the group during a breakfast session about CMU robotics research and how it impacts the world. The group then toured NREC, seeing its semi-humanoid robot CHIMP; chatting with high school students on the Girls of Steel robotics team; and learning about projects to remove coatings from aircraft, make continual adjustments to harvesting machines to improve yield and detect land mines.

This was the State Department's 20th Experience America trip and first since the beginning of the Trump administration. The trips enable diplomats to engage with prominent business and community leaders and local entrepreneurs, build new economic partnerships, and learn about the unique culture of communities outside the Beltway. The trips encourage international trade and foreign investment.

While in Pittsburgh, the group visited Robotics Institute spinoff Astrobotic Technology, the University of Pittsburgh's Human Engineering Research Laboratories and Uber's Advanced Technology Center. They also visited the Warhol Museum, Heinz History Center, Heinz Field, the Duquesne Incline and Pitt's Center for Energy.

Since 2008, more than 100 countries have participated in Experience America trips. Previous destinations include Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Miami, Seattle, Nashville, San Francisco, and Houston, as well as multiple cities in Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Wyoming and Virginia.

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