Team Member Spotlight: Maria Ramos

As a kid, Maria Ramos loved watching sci-fi movies with robots as the main character, then she realized she wanted to work on robots and be at the forefront of the industry instead of just following the technology. Maria is the first in her family to earn a college degree and work on such prestigious project. She hopes one day she can give back to her family for all the support they’ve given her. Maria is the Chief of the Public Affairs unit for the UNLV robotics team and is working on her Ph.D in mechanical engineering. She loves listening to music from all over the world, plays the cello, considers herself a good pianist, and teaches herself other instruments. She enjoys the cheers in karaoke bars as she gets up to sing, whether singing with her friends or in front of a big crowd, “it really isn’t that bad singing in front of a big crowd on a stage, even when your voice isn’t great.” Aside from HUBO being able to achieve multiple tasks, Maria wished it were able to speak as well. “Let’s say there’s a building on fire and a robot is going to help, instead of just seeing a machine, I think people would be calmer if the robot talked to them and assured them that it’s here to help.” Ramos, who is in charge of community outreach for the team, said making technology available for everyone to experience will fix misconceptions about robotics. Allowing people to interact with the technologies and learning from engineers about the capabilities of robots will help ease fears, she...

Team Member Spotlight: Kiwon Sohn

Even at a very young age, Kiwon Sohn developed an interest and fascination toward robots. Assembling toy robots was one way for him to discover how they worked. “At the age of seven my mother would buy me one robot everyday. I would take it apart and assemble it again. I would try to assemble the robot every night until I fell asleep, then throw it away, and get a new one the next day.” Sohn said. His parents encouraged him to be an engineer, not necessarily working in robotics. However he believes they had an indirect impact on his career and love for robotics. As the Chief of Engineering Unit for team DRC-Hubo@UNLV working on humanoids – human inspired robots to help and protect humans in disaster sites and situations- Sohn said he understands that everyone has a vision and a way of executing an idea on the robot, so his job is to connect everyone’s ideas to reach the best design and most efficient programing for the robot before the DARPA Robotics Challenge. He believes that humanoids would work better if they had muscles. The rigid bodies of the robots limit their movement and performance. Sohn hopes that people understand that humanoids are created to replace human responders in disaster situations. He worries that the public has the wrong idea about humanoids. Some believe that the robots are unsafe or that the robots will turn against humans. Sohn said both are misconceptions. “The main purpose of these humanoids is helping people during times of disasters, our goal is to help people, not create a weapon against them....