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James D. McLurkin ’95, SM ’04, PhD ’08

Hardware Engineer, Google, 2015 - present

Hardware Engineer, Google, 2015 - present

James D. McLurkin ’95, SM ’04, PhD ’08 
Hardware Engineer, Google, 2015 - present
Lemelson-MIT Student Prize 2003
Assistant Professor, Rice University

James McLurkin earned an SB in electrical engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering along with an SM and a PhD from MIT, as well as an MS in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. An engineer since his youth, Professor McLurkin received the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, which is awarded to prospective MIT student inventors. His work on multi-robot systems earned him recognition by Time magazine as one of five leading robot engineers, and by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the “Best and Brightest Under 40.” Professor McLurkin lectures extensively, teaching and encouraging children of all ages to discover the fun and excitement in science and engineering.

Highlights from this interview include:

  • Early childhood experiences with writing computer software and making robots.
  • How his UROP at the Mobile Lab helped him to build a future career in robotics.
  • Memories of student life during the 1990s and thoughts on how the campus has changed.
  • Evaluation of how well MIT has done on creating a more diverse community.
  • Reactions to winning the Lemelson-MIT prize and being in the media’s spotlight.
  • How his interdisciplinary academic work has helped create alternative avenues for research in the different sciences.  

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