A3 Announces 2023 Joseph F. Enbelberger Robotics Award Recipients

Roberta Nelson Shea of Universal Robots and Jeff Burnstein of the Assocation for Advancing Autmation will receive the awards at Automate 2023.

Association for Advancing Automation

The Joseph F. Engelberger Award
The Association for Advancing Automation has named Universal Robots' Roberta Nelson Shea and its own Jeff Burnstein as receipients of the 2023 Engelberger awards.

The Association for Advancing Automation, or A3, today announced two longtime industry leaders as the winners of the prestigious 2023 Joseph F. Engelberger Robotics Awards.

It selected Roberta Nelson Shea, global technical compliance officer at Universal Robots, as the Application winner for her outstanding work over the course of her career in global robotics safety. A3 also named its own president, Jeff Burnstein, for Leadership, recognizing his four decades of commitment and vision at the global automation trade association.

The awards committee unanimously chose Nelson Shea and Burnstein, as did past chairs of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA, now A3) for this year's awards.

UR's Nelson Shea led industrial safety standards efforts

For more than 45 years, Nelson Shea has been a central figure in the development of industrial robot safety standards in North America and around the world, said A3.

As the convenor of the committee ISO/TC 299 WG3 (ISO/TC 184/SC2), she lead the introduction of ISO/TS 15066. As an extension of the established ISO 10218, it is the first document defining standardized safety requirements within human-robot-collaboration.

Roberta Nelson Shea, Universal Robots

Roberta Nelson Shea. Source: A3

That group is currently revising ISO 10218-1 and ISO 10218-2.  

For more than 23 years, Nelson Shea has served as chair of the committee that oversees the R15.06 robot safety standard. Her commitment to safety is evident in her involvement with the NIOSH/OSHA/RIA Alliance, R15.08, and many other standards committees, noted A3. Nelson Shea was also a past board of director member for ANSI and RIA.

“My work in safety standards has been some of my most rewarding and also some of my most challenging in my career,” Nelson Shea said. “The robotics industry should be proud of our safety standards and the resulting low incident rate.”

“Due to everyone’s contributions—robot manufacturers, integrators and robot users—we have made robotics great for the market and the people associated with their use,” she added. “Let’s celebrate all the ways that robotics improves the world!”

Nelson Shea's numerous other honors include being elected one of the Top 20 Women Making Their Mark in Robotics and Automation from Smart Manufacturing, one of the Top 100 Women in Safety from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), and the 2022 Goddard Alumni Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

“The Engelberger Robotics Award for Application in Safety is a tremendous honor to me and to all those who have embraced and contributed to robotic safety,” said Nelson Shea. “I remember meeting Joe Engelberger over 40 years ago and never imagined receiving this award. I view the award to be honoring the industry’s progress in optimizing safety and productivity. The journey has been amazing!”

A3's Burnstein a leading industry advocate

Burnstein is the president of the Association for Advancing Automation. A3 said it is the largest robotics and automation trade group, representing more than 1,160 global companies involved in robotics, artificial intelligence, vision, motion control, and related technologies.

Jeff Burnstein, A3

Jeff Burnstein. Source: A3

Since joining the association in 1983 as manager of marketing and public relations, Burnstein has held a variety of senior positions, culminating in his promotion to president in 2007. He is a frequent commentator in the media, often discusses automation issues with policy makers, and regularly speaks at global conferences on issues such as the impact of automation on jobs and the future of automation beyond the factory floor.

Burnstein also serves on the executive board of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

“I believe my most important role for the past four decades has been to tell the story of how robotics is making our world better by performing tasks that assist people—not replace them,” he said. “Robots are enabling better, safer, and higher-paying jobs in every industry and helping solve our most difficult challenges. I hope my selection for this award will inspire others to pursue robotics-related careers in our increasingly automated future.”

“Winning the Engelberger Robotics Award for Leadership is beyond any accomplishment I could have imagined when I started at the association 40 years ago,” said Burnstein. “The award has been described as the ‘Nobel Prize of Robotics’ for good reason, as it is acknowledged globally as our industry’s pinnacle of success. As an English major with no technical background at all, I am living proof that there is a home for anyone in the robotics industry.”

About the Joseph F. Engelberber Robotics Awards

The awards are named after the late Joseph F. Engelberger, “known throughout the world as the founding force behind industrial robotics,” said A3. Since its inception in 1977, the Engelberger Awards have been given to 136 robotics leaders from around the world for excellence in technology development, application, education, and leadership.

A panel of industry leaders recommends award winners based on all past and present nominations from the industry, and the past RIA chairs vote on them. A3 awards each winner a $5,000 honorarium and a commemorative medallion.

The awards dinner will be held at Automate 2023 on May 24 from 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. Eastern time in the Grand Ballroom at the Huntington Place Convention Center. Tickets for the event, which includes a cocktail reception and dinner, may be purchased when registering for the Automate 2023 show and conference.

Automate takes place from May 22 to 25 in Detroit, and anyone who works with or is interested in automation can attend for free. Attendees can see the latest in cutting-edge robotics, vision, artificial intelligence, motion control, and more, said A3.

The association said it expects this year's show to be the biggest yet, featuring 300,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, over 600 exhibitors, 25,000 attendees, and learning and networking opportunities.

About the Association for Advancing Automation

The Association for Advancing Automation promotes the benefits of automation. Members of A3 include automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, academic institutions, research groups and consulting firms that drive automation forward worldwide.

In addition to Automate, A3 hosts other industry events, including the Robotic Grinding & Finishing Conference (July 25 to 26, Minneapolis), the International Robotics Safety Conference (Oct. 9 to 11, Pittsburgh), the AI & Smart Automation Conference (Oct. 10 to 11, Pittsburgh), Autonomous Mobile Robots & Logistics Week, The Vision Show, and A3 TechCon, and the A3 Business Forum(Jan. 15 to 17, Orlando).

In this video Alex Shikany, Vice President of Membership & Business Intelligence at A3, gives an overview of your new home for automation: AUTOMATE.ORG.

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Association for Advancing Automation

The Joseph F. Engelberger Award

Robot Technologies