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Initiative to Boost Robotics Turns Five

The National Robotics Initiative (NRI) was launched to spur the development and use of robots that work beside or cooperatively with people. Neuroscientist and 2015-17 Executive Branch Fellow at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Nisha Cooch helped NRI celebrate its fifth anniversary by working on the strategy and execution of an anniversary event on Capitol Hill.

Robot infographic by National Science Foundation.

“I attended meetings of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Interagency Working Group on Robotics and Intelligent Systems. These meetings helped our group develop logistics strategies for the event and identify leaders in both the science and policy of robotics to demo their robots and speak on a panel about the future of robotics,” explained Cooch.

The event was mounted to educate members of Congress and their staff about recent progress in robotics and to communicate the need for continued support for robotics research.

As a result of this project, I feel much better equipped to assess the political implications of certain types of investments and to convey the value of scientific investments to targeted audiences.”

Nisha Cooch

“I learned so much through the experience,” said Cooch. “In addition to incredible communications guidance from my mentor, Communications Specialist Gera Jochum, and Public Affairs Specialist Aaron Dubrow, I also gained an appreciation for the deep potential of interagency working groups while observing Lynne Parker, director of NSF’s Information and Intelligent Systems Division, lead group discussions.”


She also gained from the anniversary event itself – impressed by witnessing people from different industries and both sides of the aisle come together in support of a common initiative. “Meeting people who are involved in or touched by robotics provided me with a deeper understanding of how robots impact the world and why investing in robotics research is so important for our country.”

Read more about the NRI and current questions in robotics in an NSF article Cooch wrote, “Infographic: The making of a collaborative robot.”