Two Penn Engineers to Attend Annual Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | | 215-573-6604June 29, 2011

PHILADELPHIA -– Two faculty members from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science will be participating in the 17th annual Frontiers of Engineering Symposium in September. The exclusive meeting is held by the National Academy of Engineering and will take place at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

The two assistant professors, Katherine Kuchenbecker and Ani Nenkova, are among 85 engineers between the ages of 30 and 45 selected by the NAE after being nominated by peers. They will join representatives of top research institutions in industry, academia and government.

The participants will spend three days discussing their work and initiating new, interdisciplinary collaborations in fields such as additive manufacturing, engineering sustainable buildings, neuroprosthetics and semantic processing

Nenkova’s work is in the area of natural language processing, or how computer systems can be made to understand unformatted, everyday speech and writing. She specializes in developing techniques for automatically summarizing large chunks of technical text, essentially teaching machines how to identify what parts of a passage contain the most important information for a human user. Nenkova will present a talk on semantic processing by machines and how they can be taught to recognize causal
relationships between sentences. 

Kuchenbecker’s research involves haptics:  the design, control and performance of robotic systems that enable a user to touch virtual objects and distant environments as though they were real and within reach.  Haptics could have applications in robot-assisted surgery, smart prosthetics, educational computer games and many other areas.  She was named one of Popular Science’s “Brilliant 10” last year.