Faces of Research: Meet Matthew Gombolay

Matthew Gombolay headshot

The School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech seeks to redefine the human experience of computing using two primary tools: research and innovation in computing education.

This installment of the Faces of Research Q&A series is with Matthew Gombolay, assistant professor of interactive computing in the School of Interactive Computing.

What is your field of expertise and why did you choose it?
I am an expert in algorithmic human-robot interaction, which seeks to understand how to design robots that can intelligently interact with humans to accomplish shared goals. These goals can range from building airplanes to preparing meals to playing table tennis. I chose this field because it married my passions for robotics — designing artificial means to understand and recreate what it is to be human — with my desire to design something that actually benefits real end-users. I want our robots to actually be useful (and safe)!

What makes Georgia Tech research institutes unique?
Georgia Tech, and even more so the School of Interactive Computing, is unique because it embodies an open-minded view of research and fully embraces and lives the interdisciplinary research experience. There are virtually no boundaries separating disciplines. If what you are doing has potential to advance science, then you are supported in pursuing it!

What impact is your research having on the world?
My research is impacting the world from manufacturing to space to healthcare to national defense. We have grants from industry, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Office of Naval Research supporting a plethora of motivating applications. One key impact of our work is in developing trustworthy machine learning methods for autonomous driving in partnership with Ford Motor Co.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not working on your research or teaching?
I love my family and cherish the time my wife and I spend playing with our children. Paw patrol is quite a good TV show! I also enjoy competing in tennis leagues, lifting weights, and playing guitar in church services.

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