The IEEE awards committee cited Mason, professor of computer science and robotics and a former director of CMU's Robotics Institute, "for scientific and educational contributions to the mechanics of manipulation enabling real-world robot autonomy, and for leadership in robotics."
Mason will accept the award at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems next October in Madrid. He is the first CMU faculty member to receive the award, which was first presented in 2004.
Mason has devoted much of his research to exploring the fundamental mechanics of how robots can manipulate the things around them and plan their movements to grasp a desired object. He also is working to improve understanding of how humans grasp things.
Research projects in his Manipulation Lab have included an origami-folding robot and, more recently, a focus on simple robotic hands, which Mason considers better for research purposes and near-term use than complex, anthropomorphic hands.
"Beyond his technical contributions, Matt has played a pivotal role in the Robotics Institute," said Martial Hebert, the institute's current director. "Initially, as director of our Ph.D. program, he shored up its foundations to make it the world-class program it is today. As director of the Robotics Institute, he led the institute through a critical period of expansion and, on a national level, helped shape the research agenda of the robotics community as a whole."
Mason, who joined the CMU faculty in 1982, directed the Robotics Institute from 2004 to 2014. The institute is the largest robotics education and research center in academia, and its Ph.D. program, which Mason once headed, was the first in robotics.
In 2009, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society honored Mason with its Pioneer Award, which recognizes individuals who have initiated new areas of research, development or engineering that have had a significant impact on the development of robotics and/or automation.