ReconRobotics: An Interview with Robotics Engineer Andrew Drenner

Dogs scamper about the office as former UNI graduate, Andrew Denner creates a new species of crime-fighting robots. Denner and his colleagues formed this unique working environment when they co-founded ReconRobotics, a company that develops life-saving technology.

“There is no better feeling than knowing the work that you are doing is actively saving lives,” said Denner. “Thousands of our micro-robots are in everyday use with law enforcement and military operators all over the world, and have been used for everything from stopping terrorists to resolving hostage situations.”

After graduating from UNI, Denner moved to Minneapolis where he received both an MS and a PhD in computer science from the University of Minnesota. While there, he made the connections that led to his current work.

“I, along with several other students in the Center for Distributed Robotics and our PhD advisor, co-founded ReconRobotics to bring the technology we were developing in the laboratory to real-world situations that could save lives,” said Denner.

These developments in robotics have been received numerous forms of recognition, including Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New 2011” and the 2008 Innovation Award from Cygnus Law Enforcement Group (Tactical Category.)

“We have also been covered extensively by CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, The Economist, and many police and military publications,” said Denner.

While Denner has accomplished a great deal professionally, he maintains a people-centered focus in the workplace and at home.

“We strive to create a culture were everyone has fun, family comes first, we have a dog-friendly office (on any given day there are likely to be a half-dozen dogs in the office,) and we’re incredibly flexible with time,” said Denner. “When I’m not in the office I enjoy hitting the gym, travelling, being outdoors, and spending time with my family.”

Denner said his experience at UNI has helped him in a number of ways.

“The curriculum of the Computer Science program was helpful in enriching my abilities as a computer scientist. When I entered graduate school, I felt very prepared for the work that I faced,” said Denner. “At UNI, I developed a strong network with my classmates, my cohort of Presidential Scholars, my coworkers, and faculty members in multiple disciplines. This network has helped me in countless situations throughout graduate school, as well as in my entrepreneurial endeavors.”

These endeavors promise to remain a concentration in his future.

“For now, I’m looking ahead to the continued growth of ReconRobotics and finding new ways to use miniature robots. Those who are interested can see some of our products at www.reconrobotics.com.”