Mark Minor, the University of Utah professor who is developing “smart” shoes for Parkinson’s patients and flying robots to perch in trees and devices to help cars drive themselves, was destined for such work from the start.

When most kids were out playing soccer or football, he was in the family garage under the hood of a car or playing with Lego Mindstorms. As early as 5 years old, he was replacing piston rings and helping his father rebuild engines and wondering how and why things worked.

“I was raised as a gearhead,” says Minor, whose DNA seems to contain some code for engineering. His father taught design and manufacturing, and one of his sons recently saved money to buy a robotics kit.

Minor is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Utah; he is also director of the school’s robotic systems lab. When he’s not teaching mechanical engineering, he’s designing and building robots. If you’re thinking this is the stuff of science fiction a la the Jetsons and R2D2, think again.

“We have this idea that robots will help us in the future,” he says. “Well, the future is here. You just have to understand what they’re doing.”

Read this full article in Deseret News