Faculty Spotlight: Ayonga Hereid
Faculty Spotlight introduces you to our talented scholars who continue to attract the best and brightest engineering students and whose insights and research keep us at the leading edge of innovation and discovery.
Principal Investigator, Cyberbotics Lab
Where is your hometown?
“I am from a small town called Daban in Inner Mongolia, China. The majority of the residents in my hometown are Mongolian, like me. It is one of the fifty-five ethnic minority groups in China.”
What made you pursue robotics in mechanical engineering?
“Initially, the main reason that I started to pursue robotics research is that robots are fun to work with. When I started working on robotics more, I firmly believe that robotics technology will be the next big step toward full automation. Robots will provide us a new set of robust and intelligent tools that can help us tremendously in various settings.”
Why do you think research in automation and robotics is significant?
“My research in robotics is primarily focused on legged robots. Legged robots have a pretty long history but still is new territory for research. Many challenges are waiting to be addressed in every aspect of legged robotics. However, I believe that legged robots hold the promise of working among humans to help us with many things especially with scenarios that other types of automated systems, like wheeled robots, cannot operate. Soon, we may witness legged robots performing curbside delivery, factory and warehouse jobs, disaster rescue missions, or even space exploration. Moreover, the legged robot is not just a projection of ourselves, but also an augmentation to our body. The technology of legged robotics will be quite beneficial for improving medical assistive and rehabilitation devices.”
What brought you to Ohio State?
“There are several reasons. First, Ohio State has a very long history in terms of legged robots. We had the first bipedal robot in the US in 1988. There is a milestone project called the adaptive suspension vehicle, which is a robot with six legs, in 1984, that was a tremendous achievement in the history of robotics. A lot of professors who worked on that project are still at Ohio State so, for me, it was a good opportunity to work with them and learn from them. Another reason is that Ohio State is one of the few institutes that have a top engineering school and top medical school. Most of my research focuses on medical assistive devices, such as lower-limb exoskeleton. That provides me a unique opportunity to collaborate with physicians and researchers at the medical school.”
Why do you think a prospective student should come to Ohio State and pursue MAE?
“Mechanical and aerospace engineering is one of the oldest engineering majors, yet it also provides a very rigorous and extensive curriculum for students. We have a vast area of research focuses. Our department has three majors and up to 20 different research focuses on from nano-scale material science to mega-scale aircraft and turbine engines. We provide a broad range of opportunities for students to pursue different career paths.”
What advice would you give to a student looking to pursue MAE after graduation?
“For an engineering student, the major will provide a very rigorous and busy course schedule, and that is very important for an engineering student to build up solid mathematical and programming skills. But I also think that we need to learn more about art, humanity and business. That will help a student have much broader skill sets and different perspectives when looking for a job and working in different industries.”
What do you like most about your job?
“The flexibility. That is what I enjoy the most. Of course, it is a very demanding job, but with this flexibility, I can arrange my time more effectively. Another thing is that it allows for the freedom of independent thinking. You could figure out a new challenging problem to work on. You don’t have to have a strict barrier to be always profitable.”
What is one hobby that you have outside of work?
“I used to really like to play soccer. When I was in undergrad, I was on the soccer team of our department. I haven’t played that much in the last few years, but I really enjoy watching soccer games. This is one of my biggest interests outside of my work.”
FC Barcelona is his team citing Lionel Messi as a large reason why.