Abington faculty member receives $5,000 IBM award

maker space

Penn State Abington faculty Joe Oakes and Zafer Hatahet.

Credit: Dan Z. Johnson Photography

IBM has awarded $5,000 to Joseph Oakes, senior instructor and program chair in Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State Abington. The 2017 Faculty Award in the cognitive computing category will support advancing autonomous pet design in a senior-level course.

Building on the success of Hasbro Interactive’s robotic cat, the project seeks to improve the level of object recognition, voice detection, and command obedience. Through upgraded sensors and a small computer that facilitates lightweight onboard processing, the pet’s behavior and functionality will be enhanced using IBM’s Watson analytics services on the Bluemix cloud platform. This enables the project to leverage modern cloud computing capabilities while keeping the robot processing lean and power efficient.

The IBM Faculty Award will be used to fund enhanced software and hardware development, onboard processing, artificial intelligence, and biomechanical engineering capabilities.

The goal of the project is to create a robotic pet that positively impacts the well being of seniors and residents with disabilities in the community surrounding Penn State Abington and beyond.

IBM Faculty Awards are a competitive worldwide program to foster collaboration between researchers at leading universities worldwide and those in IBM research, development, and services organizations as well as promote courseware and curriculum innovation to stimulate growth in disciplines and geographies that are strategic to IBM.

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit www.giveto.psu.edu.

Penn State Abington, formerly the Ogontz campus, offers baccalaureate degrees in 18 majors at its suburban location just north of Philadelphia. Nearly half of our 4,000 students complete all four years at Abington, with opportunities in undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics and more. Students can start the first two years of more than 160 Penn State majors at Abington and complete their degrees at University Park or another campus. Lions Gate, the campus' first residence hall, opened in August.