Prof. Goldie Nejat

Engineer Has Robotic Response to Societal Challenges

'The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing end users interact with and directly benefit from our technology.'


Goldie Nejat is a Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at University of Toronto. We asked everything from why she chose her field of study to what’s on her playlist in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What inspired you to become a scientist?
Growing up in a technology-driven society allowed me the opportunity to learn about and witness a wide variety of new technologies just as they were coming out. This had a great impact on why I wanted to become an engineer and have the opportunity to develop technologies that can positively impact society and that people can benefit from. Being a scientist allows me to directly help improve the quality of life of people.

What do you like most about being a scientist?
The challenge of being able to help solve societal problems through the development of new emerging technologies and the privilege of helping people. The most rewarding aspect of my job is being able to see end users interact with our technology and directly benefit from their capabilities. For example, being able to see our socially assistive robots provide assistance to elderly residents in long-term care facilities.

What do you envision in the future of your field?
It’s a very exciting time for robotics. Robots will have a great impact on our everyday lives. We are seeing emerging areas and applications for robotics and with groundbreaking new technologies being developed. Robotics will be one of the next big industries that will help support society.

What advice would you give young researchers?
Choose a career that you are passionate about and that challenges you. This way you will always enjoy what you do.

What’s on your playlist?
I listen to a wide range of music from Beethoven and Tchaikovsky to Bon Jovi and Guns N’ Roses.

If you could meet any historical figure who would it be and why?
Wow, it is hard to just pick one, there are so many people throughout history who have really left their mark. If I had to choose one, I would pick Madame Marie Skłodowska-Curie. She was definitely a trailblazer, winning two Nobel prizes. Her work helped pioneered a new area of physics. Her dedication to her research and advancing science is an inspiration.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be?
I have the best job in the world and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have the opportunity to develop robotic technologies to meet the needs of our society and that can directly help people and improve their quality of life. I am also able to train the next generation of robotics researchers and developers in this exciting and important field.

What do you like to do for fun?
Travel and be immersed in different languages and cultures, play the piano, hike, and spend time with family and friends.

Want to learn even more about Prof. Nejat? Check out her Orange Chair Interview.