Science & Technology

UWF partners with IHMC to develop first intelligent systems and robotics Ph.D. in Florida

The University of West Florida has partnered with the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition located in downtown Pensacola to develop a doctoral program in intelligent systems and robotics. The program will be the first of its kind in Florida and one of only a few in the nation.

UWF partners with IHMC to develop first intelligent systems and robotics Ph.D. in Florida

“We are very excited about this new doctoral degree program,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “The program brings together the strengths of UWF engineering and computer science programs with the expertise of a world-class research center, IHMC. It’s a game changer.”

The new doctoral program will begin Fall 2019 and aligns with the University’s strategic vision for research that impacts Northwest Florida’s economic development and technology enterprise. It will serve the manufacturing, health care, defense and other high-tech industries, providing critical support to high-demand career fields.

“I’ve envisioned a program like this for a long time,” said Ken Ford, director and co-founder of IHMC. “It will attract top young talent from the world. This is such a great move not only for UWF and IHMC, but also for Pensacola and the state.”

According to a 2012 study by the National Robotics Initiative, robotics technology holds the potential to transform the future of the U.S. and is expected to become as ubiquitous over the next decades as computer technology is today. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook projects a 19 percent growth rate for computer and information technology research scientists over the next 10 years.

“The national demand for experts in intelligent systems and robotics is large, yet universities and technology firms such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon struggle to find people with the expertise and skills their organizations need,” said Dr. Mohamed Khabou, interim program director. “In a Spring 2018 survey of UWF engineering and computer science students, 66 percent of the 149 respondents indicated their interest in this new program.”

The program will attract talented students from around the world, as it will be one of only a few in the nation, joining institutions like Carnegie Mellon, University of Pittsburgh and Georgia Institute of Technology.

“This program sets a precedent as the first of its kind in the state,” said Dr. Jaromy Kuhl, interim dean of the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering. “The groundbreaking program will focus solely on research and build upon our excellent computer science and engineering programs. Students will flourish by learning from award-winning IHMC scientists, and graduates will be highly competitive in a job market with a growing demand for experts in intelligent systems and robotics. UWF and IHMC will educate the next generation of researchers to develop innovative technology that combines human and machine elements.”

The Doctorate in Intelligent Systems and Robotics will train the next generation of professionals who will develop technologies combining human and machine elements through hands-on, leading-edge research – leveraging the proximity and world-class talent at UWF and IHMC.

A not-for-profit research institute of the State University System, IHMC is a pioneer of technologies aimed at extending human capabilities through a unique approach combining computer science, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, engineering, medical sciences and related disciplines.

“UWF is blessed to have such a high-caliber institute nearby, and establishing an official partnership with them to help launch this new Ph.D. program is a win-win for both institutions,” Khabou said.

To learn more about the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering at UWF, please visit For additional information about IHMC, please visit