Wednesday, July 14, 2021 – by Aaron Aupperlee
Manuela Veloso, a renowned artificial intelligence researcher, computer scientist and roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University, is among the most influential women in engineering, according to a new list compiled by Academic Influence.
The list of women includes astronauts, founders and CEOs of well-known technology and Fortune 500 companies, a Nobel laureate, and researchers from around the world. Forbes reported that Veloso ranked among the top 10 of the 35 women on the list.
Veloso, the Emeritus Herbert A. Simon University Professor in the School of Computer Science and head of J.P. Morgan AI Research, was glad to see CMU on the list. She feels like a role model to women in engineering and noted that women on the list challenged conventional thinking, changed systems and went against what was popular at the time or expected of them.
“They are known for their courage,” Veloso said. “Women should see that people can follow their passions and do so strongly. You should enjoy and do what you love. You have to be faithful to your mind and your ideas.
“And yes, it is hard sometimes.”
The list notes that in 1970, only 3% of engineering professionals were women, according to the U.S. Census. By 2019, 15% of engineers were women — a substantial gain but nowhere near equal footing.
“This makes the groundbreaking achievements of the women on our list all the more remarkable,” the authors of the list wrote. “These 35 influential women engineers showcase the brilliant minds driving today’s leading-edge innovations, developing tomorrow’s life-saving discoveries and generally taking us to thrilling new heights of scientific understanding.”
Recognition as an engineer was meaningful to Veloso. Despite a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering, her Ph.D. was in computer science at CMU and her work has focused on AI — a combination of science and engineering. While completing her Ph.D., Veloso remembers AI pioneer Allen Newell saying that AI is easy to talk about but hard to get done.
“So, I was always focused on doing and the engineering aspect.” Veloso said.
With her students, teams of soccer robots have been RoboCup world champions multiple times. Her AI models also enable CoBots to autonomously roam the hallways of the Gates and Hillman Centers and Newell-Simon Hall, assisting and escorting guests while pioneering a symbiotic autonomy approach new to human-AI interaction.
Academic Influence provides objective, nongameable, influence-based rankings of the people, schools and programs in higher education.
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