Home Artificial Intelligence A. Michael West: Advancing human-robot interactions in well being care | MIT Information

A. Michael West: Advancing human-robot interactions in well being care | MIT Information

A. Michael West: Advancing human-robot interactions in well being care | MIT Information


An completed MIT scholar researcher in well being care robotics, with many scholarship and fellowship awards to his identify, A. Michael West is nonchalant about how he selected his path.

“I type of fell into it,” the mechanical engineering PhD candidate says, including that rising up in suburban California, he was social, athletic — and good at math. “I had the traditional alternative: You is usually a physician, a lawyer, or an engineer.”

Having witnessed his mom’s grueling residency when she was coaching to be a physician, and feeling like he didn’t take pleasure in studying and writing sufficient to be a lawyer, “That left engineer,” he says.

Fortunately, he loved physics in highschool as a result of, he says, “it gave that means to the numbers we had been studying in arithmetic,” and in a while, his main in mechanical engineering at Yale College agreed with him.

“I positively caught with it,” West says. “I favored what I used to be studying.”

As a rising senior at Yale, West was chosen to take part within the MIT Summer time Analysis Program (MSRP). This system identifies proficient undergraduates to spend a summer season on MIT’s campus, conducting analysis with the mentorship of MIT college, postdocs, and graduate college students to arrange program contributors for graduate research.

For West, MSRP was an schooling in what “precisely grad college was, particularly what it might be like at MIT.”

It was additionally, and most significantly, a supply of validation that West may succeed within the larger ranges of academia.

“It gave me the arrogance to use to high grad faculties, to know that I may truly contribute right here and achieve success,” West says. “It very a lot gave me the arrogance to stroll right into a room and method individuals who clearly know far more than I do about sure subjects.”

With MSRP, West additionally discovered a neighborhood and made enduring friendships, he says. “It’s good to be in areas the place you get to see numerous minorities in science, which MSRP was,” he says.

Having benefited from the MSRP expertise, West gave again as soon as he enrolled at MIT by working as an MRSP group chief for 2 summers. “You may create this similar expertise for folks after you,” he says.

His involvement as a pacesetter and mentor in MSRP is only one means West has sought to provide again. As an undergraduate, for instance, he served as president of his college’s Nationwide Society of Black Engineers chapter, and at MIT, he has served as treasurer for the Black Graduate Pupil Affiliation and the Academy of Brave Minority Engineers.

“Possibly it’s only a familial factor,” West says, “however being a Black American, my dad and mom raised me in a means that you simply all the time keep in mind the place you come from, you keep in mind what your ancestors went by.”

West’s present analysis — with Neville Hogan, the Solar Jae Professor in Mechanical Engineering, within the Eric P. and Evelyn E. Newton Laboratory for Biomechanics and Human Rehabilitation — can also be geared toward serving to others, particularly those that have suffered orthopedic or neurological damage.

“I’m attempting to know how people management and handle their motion from a mathematical standpoint,” he says. “When you have a means of quantifying the motion, then you possibly can measure it higher and implement that to robotics, to make higher gadgets to assist in rehabilitation.”

Throughout his first yr of graduate college, West was chosen because the Bernard (Ben) Gold Fellow. In 2022, he was chosen to be an MIT-Takeda fellow. The MIT-Takeda Program, a collaboration between MIT’s Faculty of Engineering and Takeda Prescription drugs Firm, primarily promotes the appliance of synthetic intelligence to profit human well being. As a Takeda Fellow, West has studied the flexibility of the human hand to control objects and instruments.

West says the Takeda Fellowship gave him time to concentrate on his analysis, the funding permitting him to forgo working as a instructing assistant. Though he loves instructing and hopes to safe a tenure-track place as a professor after incomes his PhD, he says the time dedication related to being a instructing assistant is critical. Within the third yr of his PhD, West devoted about 20 hours per week to a instructing place.

“Having numerous time to do analysis is nice,” he says. “Studying what it’s good to find out about and doing the analysis will get you to the subsequent step.”

In truth, the kind of analysis that West conducts is particularly time-intensive. That is not less than partly as a result of human motor management includes a lot computerized, unconscious exercise that’s predictably obscure.

“How do folks management these complicated, unconscious techniques? Understanding that may be a slow-going course of. Lots of the findings construct on one another. It’s important to have a strong understanding of what’s identified, what’s a working speculation, what’s testable, what shouldn’t be testable, and tips on how to carry the non-testable to testable,” West says, including, “We received’t perceive how people management motion in my lifetime.”

To make progress, West says he has to rigorously proceed one step at a time.

“What are the small questions I can ask? What are the questions which have already been requested, and the way can we construct upon these? That’s when the duty turns into much less daunting,” he says.

In September, West will start a fellowship with the MIT and Accenture Convergence Initiative for Trade and Know-how. Hoping to encourage and facilitate interplay between expertise and trade, the company selects 5 MIT-Accenture fellows every year.

“What they’re on the lookout for is somebody whose analysis is translational, that may have impacts in trade,” West says. “It’s promising that they’re within the fundamental, basic analysis I’m doing. I haven’t labored on the translational facet but. It’s one thing I’d wish to get into after commencement.”

Whereas incomes prestigious fellowships and advancing human-robot interactions in well being care, West remains to be very a lot the laid-back man who “fell into” engineering. He finds time to fulfill with pals on the weekends, took up rugby as a graduate scholar, and has a long-distance relationship together with his fiancée, with a marriage date set for subsequent summer season.

Requested how he’ll counsel his future college students once they method sophisticated work, he has a predictably relaxed response.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for assist. There’s all the time going to be somebody who’s higher at one thing than you might be, and that’s a very good factor. If there weren’t, life could be slightly boring.”


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