2024 Midwest Robotics Workshop (MWRW)

April 18–19, 2024

Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago
6045 S. Kenwood Avenue (map)
Chicago, IL 60637


The robotics field is experiencing tremendous growth as a result of algorithmic and technological advances, the availability of common, low-cost sensors and platforms, and a standardization in open-source development. These factors together with the growing community of talented, highly-trained roboticists combine to render feasible real-world applications in our homes and workplaces, and on our streets.

The Midwest Robotics Workshop (MWRW) is intended to bring together roboticists from academia and industry in and around the Midwestern United States. Building on successful workshops in 2016, 2017, and 2018 it is an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to share their work with others and to network, with the goal of creating a more cohesive and vibrant robotics community in the Midwest. The workshop will feature invited talks by leading researchers, and an exciting collection of oral presentations and interactive poster sessions.

There is no cost to attend the workshop. Additionally, we we are offering a limited number of student lodging grants for the night of April 18 in order to encourage participation from outside the Chicagoland area.

If you have any questions, please contact the organizers.

Call for Participation

We invite all roboticists from the Midwest (broadly interpreted) to participate in the second annual Midwest Robotics Workshop to be held at TTI-Chicago on the University of Chicago campus (map) on April 18–19, 2024.

We encourage participants to use the workshop as an opportunity to present recent research either as a talk or during an interactive poster session. If you are interested in presenting, please submit a title and abstract summarizing your work. Since the workshop does not have published proceedings, abstracts that describe work that was previously published or is still in progress are welcome.

Keynote Speakers

Nancy Amato (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Nancy M. Amato is Head of the Computer Science Department and Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received undergraduate degrees in Mathematical Sciences and Economics from Stanford, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois, respectively. Before returning to her alma mater in 2019, she was Unocal Professor and Regents Professor at Texas A–M University and Senior Director of Engineering Honors Programs.

Amato is known for algorithmic contributions to robotics task and motion planning, computational biology and geometry, and parallel and distributed computing. She has graduated 25 PhD students, with most going to faculty positions (12) or research positions in government or industry (9), and has worked with 30+ master's students, 100+ undergraduate researchers, and 10+ high school students. A majority of her students are from groups underrepresented in computing.

Amato has served in numerous leadership roles including CRA Board Chair (2021-2023), AAAS Section-T Chair (2021-2022), ACM Council Member-at-Large (2020-2024), and IEEE Robotics and Automation Society VP (2018-2021). She is dedicated to broadening participation in computing, and has served as CRA-WP Co-Chair (2014-2017), NCWIT Academic Alliance Co-Chair (2009-2011), and has Co-Directed the CRA-WP DREU program since 2000.

Her honors include the 2019 IEEE RAS Saridis Leadership Award in Robotics and Automation, the inaugural 2014 NCWIT Harrold/Notkin Research and Graduate Mentoring Award, and the 2014 CRA Haberman Award for contributions to increasing diversity in computing. She is a Fellow of the AAAI, AAAS, ACM, and IEEE.

Marcia O'Malley (Rice University)

Marcia O'Malley is the Thomas Michael Panos Family Professor in Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Bioengineering, and Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University. Her research addresses issues that arise when humans physically interact with robotic systems, with a focus on wearable robotics and haptics for training and rehabilitation in virtual environments. She has twice received the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching at Rice University. O'Malley was a recipient of both the ONR Young Investigator award and the NSF CAREER Award. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. At Rice, she has been recognized with Rice's Presidential Award for Mentoring, the Graduate Student Association Faculty Teaching and Mentoring Award, and the Rice University Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Teaching, and Service.

Robert Wood (Harvard University)

Robert Wood is the Harry Lewis and Marlyn McGrath Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a National Geographic Explorer. Prof. Wood completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He is founder of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab, which houses expertise in multi-scale, multi-material fabrication for robots with features sizes ranging from sub-micrometer to meter and with arbitrary material combinations. His current research interests include microrobots, bioinspired and biomedical robots, soft robots, and robots for marine and space applications. He is the winner of multiple awards for his work including the DARPA Young Faculty Award, NSF Career Award, ONR Young Investigator Award, Air Force Young Investigator Award, Technology Review's TR35, and multiple best paper awards. In 2010 Wood received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama for his work in microrobotics. In 2012 he was selected for the Alan T. Waterman award, the National Science Foundation's most prestigious early career award. In 2014 he was named one of National Geographic's "Emerging Explorers", and in 2018 he was an inaugural recipient of the Max Planck-Humboldt Medal. Wood's group is also dedicated to STEM education by using novel robots to motivate young students to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Important Dates

March 15, 2024 Student Lodging Grant Application Deadline
March 15, 2024 Registration and Abstract Submission Deadline
April 18–19, 2024 Workshop


The workshop will start (with breakfast) at 08:30am on Thursday and will end with lunch on Friday. Breakfast and lunch will be provided both days. The program will include invited and contributed talks, as well as poster sessions.

The following times are subject to change.

Thursday, April 18

08:30–09:00am Breakfast (provided)
09:00am–09:15am Welcoming Remarks
09:15am–10:15am Keynote Talk (Chair: Dan Bruder)
Robert Wood (Harvard University) , Robots Need Bodies! The Mechanical Side of Artificial Intelligence
10:15am–11:35am Invited/Contributed Talks (Chair: TBD)
11:35am–01:00pm Lunch (provided)
01:00pm–02:00pm Keynote Talk (Chair: Tim Bretl)
Marcia O’Malley (Rice University), Wearable Robots that Teach and Learn with a Human Touch
02:00pm–04:00pm Invited/Contributed Talks (Chair: TBD)
04:00pm–05:30pm Poster Session I and Happy Hour

Friday, April 19

08:30am–10:00am Breakfast (provided) and Poster Session II
10:00am–11:00am Keynote Talk (Chair: Girish Krishnan)
Nancy Amato (Unversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
11:00am–01:00pm Invited/Contributed Talks (Chair: TBD)
01:00pm–01:10pm Closing Remarks
01:10pm–03:00pm Lunch (provided)


There are several hotels nearby the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park, where TTIC is located. These include:

There are also several reasonable options in downtown Chicago, such as Hotel Felix.

Lodging Grants: We will provide a limited number of grants for student lodging at a nearby hotel for the night of April 18. Please see the Registration section for information on how to apply.

Parking: Free parking is available in the commuter parking lot at 60th St. and Stony Island Ave. and free street parking on many streets near TTIC (just beware of "permit parking" and "street cleaning" signs!). Parking can be found on 61st Street (between Woodlawn Ave and Blackstone Ave), on Dorchester Street (between 60th and 61st Streets).


Registration: If you are interested in presenting your work as a poster or talk, or would like to simply attend the workshop, please sign up here. There is no cost to register. Please note that the schedule is pretty tight, so we may not be able to honor every presentation request.

Lodging Grants: We are awarding a limited number of lodging grants for students from outside the Chicagoland area who would like to attend. The grants will provide a one-night stay at a nearby hotel on April 18. Please fill out this form if you would like to apply.


Timothy Bretl (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Daniel Bruder (University of Michigan)
Girish Krishnan (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Ram Vasudevan (University of Michigan)
Matthew Walter (TTI-Chicago)