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Karan Kamdar is an embedded software engineer and interdisciplinary roboticist working in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Child Psychology, Educational Technology and Instructional Design. He is a recent graduate of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) - Arts, Computation, Engineering (ACE) program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) where he completed his Masters Thesis and Project on using Emergent AI and Synergistic Robotic techniques for embellishing the Creativity of the Child under the tutelage of the interdisciplinary artist and roboticist Prof. Simon Penny. With an undergraduate degree in Information Technology from the University of Mumbai, India backed by years of programming experience, Karan was granted a fellowship to UCI's Henry Samueli School of Engineering to seek interdisciplinary knowledge that would help him apply his technical skills to his subsequently chosen field of Developmental Psychology. At the ACE program which takes a theoretical approach towards realizing workable ideas, Karan incorporated his knowledge of Learning theories, Constructivist Design principles, Synergistic AI, Software Agents, Artificial Neural Networks and Machine Learning as part of his design process and built custom hardware/software for his robotic projects.
Through such a reflexive, hands-on approach of solving design problems and the toughest of problems in robotics such as navigation, hand-to-eye co-ordination, real-time control and machine learning, Karan was able to realize his thesis project called as M-CLE (Embodied Constructivist Learning Environment) in which a child using a modified toy bike creates emergent artwork with a swarm of four robots that embellish its creations in an active learning environment. During his 2 years at ACE where he maintained a UC GPA of 3.57, Karan's research has also been supported by grants and sponsorship from external entities. One of these entities has been a San Clemente based company that has been sponsoring his on-going research efforts in creating a physical learning environment for children. The other entity has been the cross-campus institution called CALIT2 (California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology) where Karan's work towards synergistic robotics, embodied technologies and interactive media design was supported by the 'Embodied Interaction' group of the New Media Arts Lab (NMAL) that is engaged in using media and computer technologies to create environments for performance and sites for interaction.
Given the multi-disciplinary education and the hands-on design and practice that he sought at UCI along with independent research / contracts and internships, Karan would now like to dedicate his efforts towards a company whose commercial interests involve either one or more of the following: 1] Building Products and Technologies for facilitating Child Learning 2] Using new forms of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to drive product design in areas of personal, industrial robotics 3] Educational and Entertainment Technologies using Robotics and Interactive Media Design. He also aims to realize several other design ideas within his fields of interest. One of these ideas that is keeping Karan busy at work is his Anthropomorphic Learning Facilitator (ALF) Robot that would play creative and constructive games with the child such as building blocks. Having worked out most of its technical details, this project would be completed in collaboration with Fabien Spindler from the Lagadic Research Group at l'Irisa/INRIA Rennes to implement a custom 5DOF robotic arm manipulator with the group's Visio Servoing Platform called ViSP.
More importantly however, what drives Karan's work are his passion for innovation, a pursuit for creative excellence and a reflexive awareness and understanding of things. These enable him to be immersed in a cycle of 'critical technical practice' where certain foundational questions are asked, problems and design goals are formulated and creative strategies are sought to realize new solutions. Moreover a sense of higher purpose and conceptualization of things such as the need to design systems that allow for the child's creativity to be nurtured in the midst of largely passive digital media technologies (such as television, online games and movies) or the provision of personal care to the elderly/disabled directs Karan's research goals and interests. Karan is extremely passionate about changing lives through 'technology that can make a difference' and is constantly immersed in literature on design, robotics, electronics, software and mechanical constructions.
Fields of Specialization
1] Synergistic Artificial Intelligence, Mobile Robotics and Systems Design for Child Learning and Creativity
2] Neural Networks and Machine Learning Algorithms
3] Educational Technology, Instructional and Interactive Media Design
4] Developmental Learning, Child Behavior and Psychology
Unique Skills and Interests
1] Human-centered Design driven by theoretical understanding of human psychology
2] Developing communication protocols for a group of AI systems synergistically working with humans
3] Developing custom Hardware / Software for Robotic Applications with years of programming experience in foundational languages such as C, C++ and machine shop skills such as milling, lathe
4] Solving the toughest of problems in robotics such as navigation, hand-to-eye co-ordination, real-time control, machine learning, remote sensing and actuation
5] Embedded software source code optimization for achieving a range of functionality and features in microcontrollers with limited memory resources
For complete information about my education, fields of specialization and skills please download my resume.
Guiding Principles & Lessons Learned from specific research at UCI
From the perspective of a ‘critical technical practitioner’ in my fields and an avid student of science, I deeply believe in the value of education and how the different stages of learning play a foundational role in developmental psychology. Designing systems based on a reflexive awareness of how learning really takes place has thus been the cornerstone of my research work, at and after UCI. Much of my research work has been sensitive to the fact that today there are a plethora of ‘edutainment’ products out there that seem to be driven by a sort of an unquestioned bias towards packing a set of attractive features in a toy that can instantly gratify a child. The result is thus the predominance of a design philosophy that focuses more on the internal complexity of the system rather than being based on the foundational principles of developmental learning. I believe that emerging new fields like ‘Physical/Tangible computing’ and those at the intersection of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Interactive Media Technologies will significantly affect the research practice, trends and models of both creating and delivering educational systems. Hence the justification of my interdisciplinary education at UCI. It is with the above understanding that I wish to bring my skills to a company that deeply values the role of creating systems that truly impact developmental learning.
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