Extending robots' learning capabilities
Who am I?
I am a final year PhD student in machine learning and robotics at the University of Leeds, UK. My research interest covers machine learning and planning for autonomous agents. I also teach graduate courses in robotics and AI. My work focuses on designing learning algorithms for robots to acquire transferable and generalizable manipulation skills without jeopardizing the safety of the environment.
What keeps me awake at night?
Imagine trying to reach for the salt shaker from the back of a cluttered and occluded shelf. A task that may seem intuitive for us, humans, and even animals, remains a frontier research question that is yet to be solved. The robot must have a commonsense understanding of the physics (how objects interact, the temporal correlation between observation history and actions, etc.), and a real-time reactive behaviour to address real-world conditions while pertaining to the semantic goal of the task.
What can I do about it?
I am leading multiple research projects pioneering solutions for robots to learn new skills through active interaction with the environment. These projects span the fields of computer vision, deep Imitation and Reinforcement Learning, Dynamical Systems, and motion planning to create the robots of tomorrow. With this, I pursue the vision of progressively augmenting the capabilities of robots to operate autonomously and safely in human environments.
Most relevant skills in my everyday work
Jun `17- Mar `21: R&D Management and Innovation - University of Leeds, UK
Innovated Deep Reinforcement Learning algorithms for decision-making under uncertainty using convolutional and recurrent neural networks (CNN, LSTM)
Restructured the Machine Learning course to align the goals and expectations of the students, administration, department, and field, earning me the qualification "Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK"
Managed the proper allocation of the robotics lab resources (servers, robots, tracking systems, etc.) doubling their availability and the access time to lab members
References: Dr. Mehmet Dogar and Dr. Matteo Leonetti
May `16 - Nov `16: Visiting Researcher - EPFL, Switzerland
References: Prof. Aude Billard and Dr. Nadia Barbara
Jan `16 - Apr `16: Freelance Technology Consulting - Anglet, France
Jan `15 - Jan `16: Visiting Researcher - DLR, Germany
Reference: Dr. Daniel Leidner
Feb `13 - Sep `13: Research Assistant - AUB, Lebanon
Developed an augmented reality Android app for archaeological sites
Reference: Dr. Daniel Asmar
Jun `17- Mar `21: PhD in Machine Learning and Robotics - University of Leeds, UK
Supervisors: Dr. Mehmet Dogar and Dr. Matteo Leonetti
Oct `13 - Dec `15: MSc in Robotics - TU Dortmund, Germany
Thesis at DLR: "Automated Planning of Whole-Body Motions for Everyday Household Chores with a Humanoid Service Robot"
Supervisors: Dr. Daniel Leidner and Dr. Oliver Urbann
Oct `08 - Feb `13: BE in Mechanical Engineering - NDU, Lebanon
Thesis: "Thermo-acoustic refrigeration: prototype design and optimization"
Supervisor: Dr. Marwan Azzi
Teaching and Mentoring Experience
Oct `17- Mar `21: Teaching - University of Leeds, UK
- Machine Learning (COMP3611)
- Intelligent Systems and Robotics (COMP3631)
- Artificial Intelligence (COMP2611)
- Practical Programming (COMP5711M)
- Introduction to Web Technologies (COMP1021)
Mentored multiple teams of grad students and interns to develop holistic robotic applications
Honors and Awards
Voted 1st place winner of the Flash Presentation Competition at the PostGrad-Research Showcase Event 2018 - Leeds, UK
"Deutschlandstipendium 2014-2015" scholarship for academic excellence and social commitment - Germany
Team leader of the 1st place winning teams of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 2011 Student Professional Design Competition (SPDC) and 2012 Mechatronics Competition (MC) - Middle East region
Nov `19: International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems - Macau, China
Jul `19: Summer School on Smart Environments - Uni. of Balamand, Lebanon
Oct `18: International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems - Madrid, Spain
Apr `17: ASME NDU - Notre Dame University, Lebanon
May `16: Robotics Talk - EPFL, Switzerland
Memberships and Alumni
Enactus Hochschule Team (consulting on entrepreneurial projects for developing nations) - Bochum, Germany
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Scouts of Lebanon (serving 3 years as Chief Scout)
Offrejoie NGO (volonteer)
In the news
Comunications of the ACM: Worker Robots that Learn from Mistakes
German Aerospace Center: An astronaut in space and a robot on Earth working together
Turkiye.ai: Robotun Dusunme Hizi 10 Kat Artti
Chinese Academic Media: Selected Paper from IROS 2019 on Robot Learning
Proficient: English, French, Arabic
In progress: German