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Women's Faculty Cabinet

Cabinet Members - Caroline Hayes

Carol ChomskyThe aim of my research is to understand how to design effective systems of people and technology.  These systems range from an intelligent architect’s assistant that suggests design alternatives, to a wheelchair mounted robot arm that can be controlled by a quadriplegic person.  Solving such challenges requires understanding what technology can be made to do, and how people think and work.  Thus, I have always taken an interdisciplinary approach in my work.  Interesting problems do not restrict themselves to specific disciplines, so why should I?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I attended Carnegie Mellon University for my undergraduate and graduate education.  I earned a Bachelors degree in math and computer science, and the first PhD in Robotics from the Robotics Institute, which was then a new interdisciplinary program. I joined the Computer Science faculty at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1991 and moved in 1998 to the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota.  I have enjoyed living and working in the Twin Cities ever since. 

I am currently a full professor, director of graduate studies for the Human Factors and Ergonomics program, a faculty senator, and the faculty liaison between the university and the state legislature.  I joined the Women’s Faculty Cabinet because I have seen too many talented women decide that engineering is not for them because they do not fit the mold.  I want to change that.  This is not a “women’s issue.”  It is a matter of technical excellence for the field.  The engineering profession cannot reach its full creative power if it continues to draw on only half of the talent pool.  Our nation cannot afford to lose talent at a time when technical excellence is critical in maintaining our place in an increasingly competitive global economy.