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>  News Releases >   2007 >   February

NSF recognizes Dartmouth professor with Career Award

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 02/16/07
Sue Knapp • (603) 646-3661

Devin Balkcom
Devin Balkcom (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Devin Balkcom, an assistant professor of computer science, was recently honored with a Career Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award recognizes and supports the activities of teacher/scholars early in their careers, and the awardees are often considered emerging leaders in their respective fields. Recipients are selected for career development plans that integrate research and teaching.

Balkcom is interested in building machines that sense, reason about, and act on the physical world. His Career Award will support research into algorithms that will allow robots to navigate efficiently from one location to another, reliably assemble products in automatic factories, and even fold origami.

"One of the primary challenges is to achieve complex tasks with limited sensing and only a few motors," says Balkcom. The origami-folding robot, for example, only has four motors, and cannot see the paper - it might be compared to a blindfolded person folding origami with a single finger. In automated manufacturing, every sensor or motor adds costs and complexity."

This award will also support the development of undergraduate curriculum in robots and geometric-reasoning algorithms, and a summer robotics camp for K-12 students.

Other Dartmouth professors who have been recently honored with NSF Career Awards include Sean Smith, Christopher Bailey-Kellogg, and Amit Chakrabarti in the computer science department; Barrett Rogers, Robert Caldwell, and Brian Chaboyer in physics and astronomy; Robert Grubbs in chemistry; David Peterson in the linguistics and cognitive science program, and Arjun Heimsath in Earth Sciences.

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