Francesca Stramandinoli – PhD in Engineering and Robotics

Year of graduation: 2014

Current employer: United Technologies Research Center (UTRC)

Current job title: Senior Research Engineer, Human Robotics AI Expert 

Current location: East Hartford, Connecticut, USA

"During the European Future Technologies Conference and Exhibition in Budapest, Hungary, I presented a joint work between Plymouth and the University of Bielefeld in Germany that was awarded with the 2nd Prize Best Poster."

What was the title of your project? 

Towards the grounding of abstract categories. I conducted my PhD as a Marie Curie Fellow within the RobotDoC Initial Training Network.

Describe your research in one sentence.

The aim of my project was enabling humanoid robots to use sensorimotor knowledge (like motor skills and visual perception) to indirectly ground abstract words (e.g. use, make). More details can be found on the RobotDoc website.

What was the most exciting elements of your project?

In 2010 I received a scholarship award to attend one of the most important summer schools on machine learning held in Canberra, Australia. This was a great opportunity for acquiring new technical skills but also for travelling a little bit around Australia. A year later, I had the honour of being invited to speak at the Innovation Convention organised by the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium.

What was the most exciting outcome of your project?

During the European Future Technologies Conference and Exhibition in Budapest, Hungary, I presented a joint work between Plymouth and the University of Bielefeld in Germany that was awarded with the 2nd Prize Best Poster. In further journal publications I have presented computational models for the learning of abstract words in embodied agents, such as the iCub humanoid robot.

Tell us what you have been doing since completing your research?

I worked for one year as Research Engineer for United Technologies – ALES in Rome, Italy. A year later, thanks to the award of an individual fellowship sponsored by the European Commission, I joined the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Genoa, Italy, as a Marie Curie Experienced Researcher. While working in IIT I had the chance to visit the Social Robotics Lab at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, as a Research Associate.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Don’t be afraid of confrontation, challenge yourself and work hard.

How did your time at Plymouth help you?

Studying at Plymouth gave me the chance to join a well-established international research team. Thanks to that, I could interact with researchers leading the field of Cognitive Robotics and build a wide network of connections. I also had the opportunity to undertake various training activities for developing both research and soft skills, such as personal development, personal effectiveness and communication skills.

Would you recommend undertaking research at Plymouth, and why?

I really enjoyed being part of the University. I would definitely recommend undertaking research here. The University offers not only excellent training programmes in numerous fields, but also an inspiring, dynamic and international research environment. The staff are professional and always available to provide support.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about postgraduate research, please visit our Doctoral College pages. For more information about courses within the School of Computing, Electronic and Mathematics, visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

Find out what other alumni from the school are currently doing – visit the engineering and robotics interest area.