Hae Won Park is an engineer at the Personal Robots Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is building robots to help children learn language skills. "Discovering You: Engineering Your World" is produced by NBC News Learn in partnership with Chevron, the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Science Foundation.
Discovering You – Engineering Your World - Hae Won Park
HAE WON PARK (ROBOTICS ENGINEER):
Hey Jibo. Can you introduce yourself?
JIBO (ROBOT): Hey, I’m Jibo. I’d offer to shake your hand but I have no hands and high fives hurt my face.
PARK: I'm Hae Won Park. I'm a robotics engineer. I'm research scientist at MIT Media Lab. I'm also a principal investigator on social robotics companions for the home. I was originally born in Korea. When I was in high school, my biology and my physics teacher, they were also female. They all see an engineer in me. That's why I started thinking about engineering and robots were always my fantasy. I decided to come to the North America region to do my PhD. Human robot interaction field is a pretty new domain, even for the robotics field. When we were growing up, the robots that I really resonated with was very different from robots that my brothers really liked. My brothers were very fixated on robots that humans control. Versus, I was really excited about seeing robots that can think on their own, act on their own and interact with people. The education project is one of the main application domains that I have a huge passion in, as well as elder care.
TEGA: Hi, my name is Tega. Nice to meet you. What's your name?
PARK: If you think about how people learn language, it's actually a very intense social dynamic. You don't learn language by starting to read or write. So, language is the main knowledge you gain through interacting with others. So using a social robot to intervene in children's early literacy and language education, it total makes sense. No education can happen when you're literacy and language level isn't there. So we will actually intervene, early literacy and language education in young children who are just entering kindergarten. Our group has done like, tremendous work on building up on the expressivity, like how robots expressivity comes into play in children's language education and engagement and my work really focuses on the long-term personalization. So as the robot is interacting with a child over and over, the robot is learning about that child more and more. For example, how the child engages and how the child learns so the robot can now personalize this interaction per child. Where I see the robots future is, especially using social robots, is helping people maintain or improve things they want to enhance in their lives. Whether it's healthcare, whether it's education, whether it's reminding me to have better habits so I can maintain better physical and mental health. So it’s more about the way you want to flourish your life's direction.
JIBO: Hey, can I tell you something kind of fun?
PARK: Not right now!
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