This paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry PhD and innovator regarding his personal journey and the commercialization and challenges of bringing a technological invention to market. This paper aims to discuss these issues.
The interviewee is Dr Hod Lipson, James and Sally Scapa Professor of Innovation of Mechanical Engineering and Data Science at Columbia University. Lipson’s bio-inspired research led him to co-found four companies. In this interview, Dr Lipson shares some of his personal and business experiences of working in academia and industry.
Dr Lipson received his BSc in Mechanical Engineering from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in 1989. He worked as a software developer and also served for the next five years as a Lieutenant Commander for the Israeli Navy. He then co-founded his first company, Tri-logical Technologies (an Israeli company) in 1994 before pursuing a PhD, which was awarded to him from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Mechanical Engineering in the fall of 1998. From 1998 to 2001, he did his postdoc research at Brandeis University, Computer Science Department, while also lecturing at MIT. Dr Lipson served as Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Computing & Information Science at Cornell University for 14 years and joined Columbia University as a Professor in Mechanical Engineering in 2015. From 2013 to 2015, he also served as Editor-in-Chief for the journal 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing (3DP), published by Mary Ann Liebert Inc.
Dr Lipson’s broad spectrum and multi-decades of research has focused on self-aware and self-replicating robots. Dr Lipson directs the Creative Machines Lab which pioneers new ways for novel autonomous systems to design and make other machines, based on biological concepts. In total, his lab has graduated over 50 graduate students and over 20 PhD and Postdocs. Some of these students joined Lipson, in cofounding startups, while others went on to found their own companies. Lipson has coauthored over 300 publications that received over 20,000 citations. He has also coauthored the award-winning book Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing and the book Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead. Forbes magazine named him one of the “World's Most Powerful Data Scientists”. His TED Talk on self-aware machines is one of the most viewed presentations on AI and robotics.
Pransky, J. (2019), "The Pransky interview: Dr Hod Lipson, Professor at Columbia University; Robotics, AI, Digital Design and Manufacturing Innovator and Entrepreneur", Industrial Robot, Vol. 46 No. 5, pp. 568-572. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-06-2019-0127
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