A3 announces Roberta Nelson Shea, Jeff Burnstein as Engelberger Awards winners

From left to right, Roberta Nelson Shea and Jeff Burnstein, winners of the 2023 Engelberger Awards. | Source: A3

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) announced its winners for the 2023 Joseph F. Engelberger Robotics Awards: Roberta Nelson Shea, the Global Technical Compliance Officer at Universal Robots, and Jeff Burnstein, President of A3. 

Both Shea and Burnstein were unanimously selected by the awards committee and the past chairs of the Robotics Industries Association (RIA), now A3, to win the award. 

Shea was selected as the Application winner of the award for her work in global robotics safety. Shea has been a central figure in developing industrial robot safety standards in North America for over 45 years. She’s the convenor of the committee ISO/TC 99 WG3 (ISO/TC 184/SC2), in this role she led the introduction of ISO/TS 15066. 

This standard, which is an extension of the established ISO 10218, is the first document defining standardized safety requirements for human-robot collaboration. 

“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,” Shea told A3. “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!”

Burnstein was selected as the Leadership winner to honor his four decades of commitment in A3. Burnstein joined the association in 1983 as a manager of marketing and public relations, and became president in 2007. He also serves on the Executive Board of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). 

“Winning the Engelberger Robotics Award for Leadership is beyond any accomplishment I could have imagined when I started at the association 40 years ago,” Burnstein told A3. “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.”

The Engelberger awards are named after Joseph F. Engelberger who is known as the founding force behind industrial robotics. The awards started in 1977, and since then there have been 136 recipients from around the world for excellence in technology development, application, education and leadership. 

Winners are recommended by a panel of industry leaders based on all present and past nominations from the industry. They’re then voted on by past chairs of the RIA. A3 administers the award and each winner receives a $5,000 honorarium and a commemorative medallion.

Marc Raibert, a 2022 Engelberger award winner, will be keynoting the Robotics Summit & Expo in Boston on May 10-11. In his fireside chat “The Next Decade in Robotics” Raibert will discuss opportunities for the robotics industry and the most important and difficult challenges facing the creation of advanced robotics. 

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