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Angela Schoellig

“My #AeroPassion is small flying robots that surprise with their agility and elegance.”
Agela's Biography

Angela Schoellig received her Ph.D. from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, and holds both an M.Sc. in Engineering Science and Mechanics from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Masters degree in Engineering Cybernetics from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. Her Ph.D. was awarded the ETH Medal and the 2013 Dimitris N. Chorafas Foundation Award (as one of 35 worldwide). She is finalist of MIT Technology Review’s “35 Innovators under 35” list in 2015, and her research recently received the Connaught New Researcher Award. She was selected as the youngest member of the 2014 Science Leadership Program, which promotes outstanding scientists in Canada. In 2013 she was named one of “25 women in robotics you need to know about” by, a leading professional robotics online platform.

I am an Assistant Professor in Robotics and Controls. With my team, I develop algorithms that enable robots to complete tasks on their own. Our robots learn from their mistakes and get better over time. You can watch our robots race slaloms and dance to music at: I also teach these subjects to undergraduate and graduate students, and share our latest results with experts worldwide.

The University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies is one of the premier research institutions in aerospace in Canada. We do cutting-edge research and collaborate with experts in academia and industry worldwide to transfer the technology we develop into the latest products. If you want to be at the forefront of technology and work on ideas nobody has worked on before, join us!

I love everything about my job! Working with outstanding students and colleagues, establishing interdisciplinary research projects, collaborating with companies, presenting our research results at international venues, teaching the next generation of engineers, exploring the feasibility of new ideas, doing maths and writing algorithms… and playing with robots. As a professor, you define your projects and recruit your team; so, how can you not like it? ????

I just choose two examples: (1) We enabled a group of small flying robots to dance to music. While this involved cutting-edge research and complex algorithms, the result was visible and understandable for everyone. We had visitors from 2-year olds to 80-year olds; for them it was magic. (2) Recently, we were working on a project where a swarm of flying robots helps to monitor the environment. The project was great because it focuses on real-world problems such as, for example, detecting toxic algae in our waters, which can seriously contaminate our drinking water.

Our ideas, visions and algorithms have an impact on the robotics industry at large. Some of our automatic control algorithms for flying vehicles are found in the latest drones used for non-military applications. Non‐military application of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology is the fastest growing sector in the global aerospace industry and expected to grow by 700% between 2012 and 2018.

The focus of my current research is on a seamless integration of robots into our personal and work environments. I hope this research will have an equal impact as we see an increasing number of robots outside of dedicated lab and industrial spaces.

I hope that women who dream to work in the aerospace industry do so and do so with the highest aspirations. And I hope that they do not let themselves being discouraged by minor setbacks.

I am encouraging and mentoring female students. I also accept any opportunity that allows me to speak in public about my research, my experiences and my career. I hope that this will change the traditional “picture” people have about engineering and the aerospace sector.

There is so much I could mention. Actually, I am actively looking for advice by listening to and reading about people I admire. Maybe: “Don’t let anyone or anything discourage you – in particular, don’t discourage yourself from doing things that you’d kind of love to do but are not sure if you can. You can!” And listen to Sheryl Sandberg ????

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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