Josh Jach is the Senior Director of Engineering at RoboKind. Josh has been interested in engineering since a young age. His first foray into robotics came from Legos Mindstorms, where he learned the basics of engineering and programming. After graduating from UT Arlington with a degree in mechanical engineering, where he attended at the same time as the co-founder Richard Margolin, Josh interned for General Motors, and worked shortly at Nuclear Logistics.
However, the work he did at General Motors and Nuclear Logistics did not fulfill his passion for engineering. When RoboKind approached him to help develop the first prototypes of Milo, Josh signed up as their electrical engineer. Over the course of the project, he began to working on the hardware for Milo and has since become part of the senior management team at RoboKind.
“The work that they’re doing is really interesting. A lot of it is just enjoyable for me. As a startup company, it’s a risk I was willing to take.”
Designing a cost-effective robot for autism
RoboKind was creating the first social robot that could be utilized in school classrooms that would help children with autism spectrum disorder. Josh and Richard worked together to create a robot that would be durable, safe, and cost-effective enough to survive a school’s environment. They began by looking at the current market and what products were out there. Many of their designs implemented sensors and expensive motors.
Josh helped to find the best ways to decrease the cost of Milo by finding alternative resources. One of the early changes they made to Milo was the face. Originally Milo’s face was handcrafted. The team switched to a manufacturing process which helped to reduce the budget.
Josh’s ‘WOW’ moment
RoboKind wants their team of developers to understand the impact Milo has on children with Autism. They encourage their employees to visit some of the research sites where Milo robots work, and see what a difference they make to children with autism. Josh remembered a trip to one of the local autism therapist centers where he watched children, who had been non-responsive to traditional therapy, break out of their shells and interact with Milo.
“A lot of what we’re doing here is behind the computer, developing and designing stuff. You don’t see how it gets used out in the real world. That was really unique, to see a child sit down and interact with a robot.”
Josh’s future plans
Josh’s current work is focused on further reducing the cost of Milo, so that it is even more affordable. Josh and his team are continuously reviewing Milo’s design and looking for ways to improve him. One particular part Josh is looking to improve on is the motor controls for Milo.