To help the young Cambodians learn and understand technology and the science of robotics, the US Embassy in the kingdom brought an expert to share her knowledge and experiences in technology to high school and university students in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Ayanna Howard, professor and chair of the School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, spent her time with the students and gave them ideas on how Science and technology can help improve the lives of the people around the world.
Ms Howard, who revealed that it’s her first time to visit the Kingdom of Wonder, said that she is very impressed with Cambodia’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programme. She also said that she saw the eagerness and competitiveness of Khmer students in terms of applying their knowledge in Science.
“My goal is to teach students about robotics and STEM, which is very relevant and significant to their generation; and hopefully to engage students so they will value what they can learn from technology nowadays to create better lives for themselves and their families.” Ms Howard said.
“Students in Cambodia seem to get the fact that engineering it about creating, about finding solutions to the problems through technology. And I can say that students should continue with what they want to do because there are a lot of resources out there and online information that are easily available to learn.”
Ms Howard works’ encompasses advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), assistive technologies, and robotics, resulting in over 250 peer-reviewed publications in a number of projects, from healthcare robots in the home to AI-powered STEM apps for children with diverse learning needs.
“The benefit people can get through technology, firstly, is education. You can learn different languages – listening, speaking and reading, and you can also learn Math and Science to help build the community. Learning these things will also help our kids to have a good quality of life,” said Ms Howard.
Ms Howard added, “If I compare Japan and China in terms of technology, I would say that Japan is very, very advance than China. But if compared to US, China is growing faster because the Chinese government is investing more in technology.
Prior to teaching at Georgia Tech, Ms Howard was a senior robotics researcher at NASA. She has also served as the Associate Director of Research for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines.
Ms Howard shared, “I worked for NASA about for about 10 years. My job was to think about the future, how to make robots smarter so we can further explore interesting spaces without requiring scientists to control the mission. So, it’s really figuring out how to make robots smarter.”
In 2013, Ms Howard also founded Zyrobotics, a licensing technology derived from her research. Zyrobotics has released its first suite of STEM educational products to engage children of all abilities.
Ms Howard also holds a faculty appointment in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering as her career focus is on intelligent technologies that must adapt to and function within a human-centered world.