Ayanna Howard

Georgia Institute of Technology
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"I was inspired by the TV show “The Bionic Woman,” in which a severely injured woman attains extraordinary powers through artificial (bionic) limbs."

INTERVIEW DATE September 8, 2007
HER JOB NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Engineering Careers
Electrical |

I was inspired by the TV show “The Bionic Woman,” in which a severely injured woman attains extraordinary powers through artificial (bionic) limbs.  I decided at age 11 that I wanted to create artificial limbs for people. I planned to go to medical school, but discovered I hated biology—especially dissecting frogs. Then I heard about robotics and realized that, if I became an engineer, I could do exactly what I wanted to do.

Ayanna Howard, Georgia Institute of Technology

ADDEDSaturday, September 8, 2007

  • Q
    Why did you choose engineering?
    A
    I was inspired by the TV show “The Bionic Woman,” in which a severely injured woman attains extraordinary powers through artificial (bionic) limbs.  I decided at age 11 that I wanted to create artificial limbs for people. I planned to go to medical school, but discovered I hated biology—especially dissecting frogs. Then I heard about robotics and realized that, if I became an engineer, I could do exactly what I wanted to do.
  • Q
    Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
    A
    B.S. in electrical engineering, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island; M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.
  • Q
    What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
    A
    I teach and conduct research at Georgia Tech.  I am working to discover new ways that robots can help both in space exploration and in assisting people on Earth.
  • Q
    Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
    A
    Working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I developed the next generation of Mars rover. Through artificial intelligence, this robot will be independent-minded enough to explore the Martian terrain on its own, without having its every move programmed by a human.
  • Q
    What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
    A
    Don't be afraid to learn the basics, and definitely keep your imagination alive. After all, engineering is about bringing new things to life!
  • Q
    Any other stories or comments you would like to share with EngineerGirl visitors?
    A
    I was inspired by the TV show “The Bionic Woman,” in which a severely injured woman attains extraordinary powers through artificial (bionic) limbs.
  • Q
    Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
    A
    I like traveling and going to see live jazz bands. I also love watching science fiction movies and cartoons with my son.