Meet ADA, USM Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering’s New Robot


05/24/2022 – 09:42am | By: Ivonne Kawas

Enoc Lopez with Ada the robot

Enoc Lopez with Ada the robot

Undergraduate students in The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering participated in contest to name USM’s new NAO humanoid robot. Enoc Lopez, a native
of Southaven, Miss. and Computer Science major at USM, submitted the winning name
of “Ada.”

The interactive robot that is famous around the world was designed and manufactured
by SoftBank Robotics, and its website describes it as a “tremendous programming tool
that has especially become a standard in education and research.” Also stating that
it is primarily used as “an assistant by companies and healthcare centers to welcome,
inform and entertain visitors.”

Dr. Sarah Lee, director of the School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering,
highlights that this robot will enhance initiatives in the school that aim to engage
youth in active learning activities, as it offers an engaging and interactive classroom
dynamic while introducing students to computing.

“The robot is an engaging tool for introducing K-12 learners to computing, and it
also provides a platform for teaching higher order computer science concepts and skills
such as natural language processing methods,” Lee said. “The robot is a great way
to introduce programming, enabling students to develop computational thinking skills
while programming the robot to dance, walk, and talk. There are also cross-disciplinary
applications such as getting the robot to tell a story or walk in a geometric formation.”

Enoc Lopez, who submitted the winning name said his selection was inspired on an incredible
figure in the history of computer science — Ada Lovelace — as a way to honor her contributions
to the field.

“I chose the name because my first thought was that a great name for the robot would
be one of historical significance, especially one tied to computing,” said Lopez.
“I looked up famous figures in computing and I got the usual including Charles Babbage,
Alan Turing, and others. After a few searches, I ended up finding Ada Lovelace and
was absolutely enthralled by her history and baffled that she wasn’t, at least to
my knowledge, mentioned nearly as much as many other historical figures in computer

A pioneer, visionary, computer scientist, and mathematician are just a few words that
would describe Lovelace, one of the most important women in science history also known
as the world’s first computer programmer. She wrote the first machine algorithm for
an early computing machine called the Analytical Engine.

Lopez continues to share more about her legacy, as he would love for others who are
not familiar with her contributions to know more about her.

“She was a mathematician who worked with Charles Babbage on the development of the
Analytical Engine also known as the first computer,” he said. “An interesting fact
is that she even predicted that computers would one day be able to compose complex
music over 100 years before the first working computer, and we now have artificial
intelligence that can do exactly that! She was very notable, there’s even an early
programming language named after her.”

Samuel Hill, a native of Laurel, Miss. pursuing a BS in Information Technology, is
currently putting his skills to the test by programming Ada and setting up its different

Learn more about the School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering.


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