Katherine Kuchenbecker

Katherine Kuchenbecker

Associate Professor

University of Pennsylvania

New York, NY USA

We're not going to grow if we don't challenge ourselves. Your brain is a muscle, and your skills improve over time through effort, by working hard and expending effort.


By Roadtrip Nation

Katherine Kuchenbecker


My road in life took a while to figure out.
In high school, she felt pulled in several different directions: she loved sports, art, design, math, and science.
To try to cover as many of her interests as possible—especially in math and design—she decided to major in engineering.
After college, she thought she wanted to go into product design, and she was lucky enough to get a few internships in the field.
However, once she was working in product design, she realized she didn’t like it, and that terrified her; for a moment, she thought she’d taken the wrong path.
Instead of panicking, she decided to follow the threads of the things she liked back to the beginning and start down a new path; she decided to go back to graduate school.
She went back to Stanford University for a master’s degree in mechanical engineering; while there, she realized she loved teaching.
She continued on to get her Ph.D. so that she could become a professor; she now teaches engineering and computer science at the University of Pennsylvania.
Known as the “Queen of Haptics,” she studies and teaches the science of touch; in 2010, Popular Science named her one of its 10 most innovative minds in science and engineering.
Keep following my journey


Associate Professor

I am an engineer and professor working on incorporating the sense of touch directly into virtual objects.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Teaching / Mentoring

Day to Day

I teach mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and I lead a research lab that designs new haptic technologies for human interaction with computers, machines, and robots.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

There are so many great schools out there - find the one that works for you! For your doctorate, focus most on the person you choose to be your Ph.D. advisor: she or he will be your academic parent, so choose someone who is not only brilliant but also a good person that you like spending time with.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:


The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"You're an engineer? Wow, that must mean you're really smart. "

Challenges I Overcame

Physical Issues