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Andrew Williams
Robot God

Andrew Williams talks at what seems like a thousand-words-per-minute in his Wisconsin Avenue office. He’s wearing a blue polo with an image of a cartoon robot stitched in the upper-left corner. A robotic dog sits atop the file cabinet behind him. He stops for a breath. “Am I saying too much?” he asks, legitimately concerned. With so many career highlights, it’s hard for Williams to know when to stop speaking. He talks about his engineering career at GE, his time teaching at Spelman College, the battery-powered rain detector he built as a child. He forgets to mention how, in 2008, Steve Jobs invited him to take a senior position at Apple. But he’s particularly focused on talking about what he calls his “purpose-driven life” – a life in which he’s teaching engineering students to create artificial intelligence that betters society (like the robots they programmed to teach children how to make better nutritional choices). And as Marquette’s Humanoid Engineering and Intelligent Robotics Lab director, his latest project is building an adorably lanky robot named MU-L8, our cover model, who will soon play soccer. Williams says he and his students will ideally build a team of even taller humanoid robots. Let the robot takeover commence.

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