Honoring the Father of Robotics: RIA Presents 2016 Engelberger Robotics Awards

Winners are Dr. Chia Day, responsible for 40,000 robots installed at Foxconn and Dean Elkins, for past chair, A3 and RIA.

Joseph Engelberger,

Joseph Engelberger, “the father of robotics.”

For those who don’t know, Joseph F. Engelberger, considered to be the “father of robotics,” was an American physicist, engineer and entrepreneur who developed the first industrial robot in the United States in the 1950s: The Unimate.

The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) has bestowed the industry’s highest honor, the Engelberger Robotics Award, to deserving recipients every year since 1977. The winners are those who make outstanding contributions to the technological development, application or education of the robotics industry.

This year’s awards are particularly meaningful, as they are the first awards to be distributed since Engelberger’s passing on Dec. 1, 2015.

“I don’t think it will be a somber event, but a celebration of what Engelberger achieved and how far the robotics industry has come,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of the RIA.

“To continue the tradition of honoring Engelberger, we are privileged to add two well-deserving individuals to the illustrious list of people who have made a great impact on the robotics industry,” Burnstein continued. “We’re delighted to present the Engelberger awards to Dr. Chia Day and Dean Elkins this year to recognize their achievements in robotics.”

The Engelberger Awards go to…

Dr. Chia Day, winner of the Engelberger Robotics Award. (Image source, RIA.)

Dr. Chia Day, winner of the Engelberger Robotics Award. (Image source, RIA.)

Dr. Day’s award in the application category is for his role in the ongoing installation of 40,000 robots at Foxconn manufacturing facilities over the course of four years, as well as his contributions to the success of the Foxbot program.

Foxconn’s investment represents a significant boom in the adoption of industrial robotics across China’s electronics assembly industry and the Chinese robotics market as a whole.

“It’s like a life-time achievement award, recognizing contributions to the field of robotics in a career,” said Dr. Day. “It’s an honor to be in the ‘Hall of Fame’ with other major recognized leaders in the field.”

Dean Elkins received his award for leadership in the robotics industry.

Dean Elkins, winner of the Engelberger Robotics Award. (Image source, RIA.)

Dean Elkins, winner of the Engelberger Robotics Award. (Image source, RIA.)

Elkins’ career at Motoman began in 1989 as a regional sales manager. He went on to hold positions as director of third party sales, vice president of standard products international and vice president of US sales.

Elkins’ career also includes the incorporation of the Motoman subsidiaries, Yaskawa Motoman Mexico S.A. de C.V., Yaskawa Motoman Canada, Ltd. and Yaskawa Motoman. Elkins previously worked for Reis Robotics, Ellison Robotics, Cimcorp Par Systems and Hobart Brothers.

Elkins has also volunteered with The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) and served as a past chair of A3 and RIA.

Elkins is now a senior general manager at Yaskawa Electric America, Motoman Robotics Division.

“The thought of even being mentioned in the same sentence as past Engelberger award winners is beyond incredible,” said Elkins. “This award is the pinnacle to what has been an incredible career in the robotics industry. Being recognized by my industry peers as someone worthy of an award associated with Joe and his legacy is completely humbling.”

Dr. Day and Elkin’s were selected for their awards by relevant committees who submitted their recommendations to past chairmen of the RIA, who ultimately vote on the winners.

“Having known Elkins for a number of years, he’s been someone who people around the world have looked up to and respected,” Burnstein said. “Dr. Day took Foxconn, who most people hadn’t heard of and turned them into one of the worlds largest robotics users. There have been a lot of people who have won this award from around the world and these gentlemen are great additions to that list.”

Burnstein stresses that continued advancement in robotics research and development may not only help the US and other countries remain competitive, but could also lead to great strides in quality of living for people around the world.

“I get discouraged when I see headlines saying robotics will replace all the jobs in the future,” Burnstein said. “People around the world should be embracing this technology for the great things it may help us achieve, like driverless cars and robotic solutions that could help treat disease. There are so many things we can look forward to with robotics. This should be seen as a great opportunity, rather than a threat.”

The RIA is now accepting nominations for the 2017 Engelberger Robotics Awards.

For more information, visit www.robotics.org