Friday Night Events

The Lemelson Foundation symposium

Engineering Open House 2014 is excited to announce that Dr. James McLurkin will be our Friday Night Speaker. The event will be held on Friday, March 14, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at Foellinger Auditorium. Tickets will be free, and available for pickup at various locations at Engineering Open House. Dr. McLurkin will be delivering a presentation on Engineering Creativity: Exercises for the Right Brain and talking about how everyone can benefit from added creativity in their lives. He is a renowned roboticist and will be bringing robots for a live demonstration of his work! We invite you to listen to his talk, learn from his experience, and leave newly inspired to Transform Your World.

As a child, James McLurkin was constantly building with LEGO bricks, cardboard boxes, or any other materials he could access. Today, he continues this tradition using Mother Nature as a model, researching and developing algorithms and techniques for constructing and programming large swarms of autonomous robots.
A leader in the field of robotics, McLurkin is an assistant professor at Rice University in the Department of Computer Science. His research focuses on developing distributed algorithms for multi-robot systems, which are software that produce complex group behaviors from the interactions of many simple individuals. These ideas are not new: ants, bees, wasps, and termites have been running this type of software for 120 million years. His research group has one of the largest collections of robots in the world, with over 200 robots in use. The SwarmBots were originally created during McLurkin’s five-year tenure as lead research scientist at iRobot, one of the world’s leading robotics companies, and were the largest swarm in the world at the time.
He holds a BS in electrical engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering from M.I.T., a MS in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a MS in computer science from M.I.T.
As an independent consultant, McLurkin has advised many mechanical and engineering projects for clients such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Sensable Technologies, and MicroDisplay Corp. As a speaker for organizations such as Interval Research, Inc., Dartmouth College, LEGO Advanced Design Center, and the Association of Science-Technology Centers, he is dedicated to illustrating the fun and excitement in science and engineering.
In 2003, McLurkin received the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, which is awarded to burgeoning MIT student inventors. Also in 2003, he was recognized by Time magazine as one of five leading robotics engineers in their “Rise of the Machines” feature, and by Black Enterprise magazine as a “Best and Brightest Under 40.” In 2002, he was featured in the Lemelson Center’s nationwide interactive traveling exhibit, “Invention at Play,” which began at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
McLurkin is a native of Baldwin, New York, where his parents were very encouraging and began cultivating his inventiveness and engineering prowess at a young age. From Lego bricks to BMX bicycling to programming self-designed video games, he continues to follow his passion. “My goal is to understand where intelligence comes from, how it works, and how to construct artificial intelligence on real robots.”