Matthew Kelly

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I now work at Rethink Robotics in Boston, developing trajectory generation and control code for their Sawyer Robot.


I like robots! More specifically, non-linear controller design for robots with interesting dynamics. While in grad school I discovered that I am fascinated by numerical methods, especially those used for simulation, control, and optimization. I enjoy writing tutorials and teaching.

I did my graduate work at Cornell, where I earned both a M.S. (2014) and Ph.D. (2016) in mechanical engineering, with a minor in computer science. My research was focused on non-linear robust controller design for bipedal walking robots, advised by professor Andy Ruina.

My dissertation had two major projects. The first project was writing my own trajectory optimization software, along with a long tutorial paper on trajectory optimization. The second project was developing a robust walking controller and implementing it on the Cornell Ranger walking robot.

I completed my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University in 2011, along with a minor in music. I did my honors thesis project with professor Tom James, where I designed, built, and tested a new type of bone saw. I also did a research project in robotics, jointly advised by Chris Rogers and Gareth McKinley, developing a non-linear controller for a fluid mechanics testing robot.


I grew up in Stone Ridge NY, a small town just to the Southeast of the Catskill mountains. Since then, I've lived in Somerville (MA), Ithaca (NY), and now Watertown (MA). I enjoy being outside: hiking, biking, skiing, gardening, and making trails in the woods. In the evenings I will often be woodworking in my basement shop or out at a contra dance near Boston.