What's Happening

Photo from UBTech competition

August 25, 2022

In just a few years, a lot has changed for Tessa Guengerich.  She graduated from college, got her first job, and landed a role in the automated vehicle industry.

In both June 2018 & 2019, Mobility21 welcomed Tessa Guengerich to the CMU Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) program. At the time, Tessa was an undergraduate student at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.  She arrived in Pittsburgh hoping to learn more about machine learning and programming and learn more about the implementation of robots outside of academia. Tessa said she was excited to learn about things she wasn’t exposed to before (computational statistics and machine learning) and was also excited to be surrounded by other students from around the world.

The program provided exposure to hearing Poster Showing Work Tessa Did While at RISSand seeing a lot of presentations from different faculty members at CMU about their research. As a Chemical Engineering student, most of the talks were outside of Tessa’s traditional curriculum, but that’s exactly what she enjoyed most about RISS — learning about research she wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, and trying her hand at tasks that initially intimidated her.

Poster Showing Work Tessa Did While at RISSIn August 2019, Tessa was offered a job as a Robotics Engineer and began working for Carnegie Mellon University at the National Robotics Engineering Center.  The job was a continuation and expansion of the project she assisted with while part of RISS.

Looking to stretch and gain new skills, she joined ARGO AI, working as part of the Hardware Special Projects team.  The job allows her to stay in Pittsburgh and continue to connect with her RISS mentor, Rachel Burcin.  Tessa has also been able to give back, serving as a mentor to other RISS students.

Rachel Burcin, Robotics Institute Global Programs Manager of Carnegie Mellon University and Co-Director of the RISS program added:  “Working together with Mobility21, we have been able to walk alongside students to open doors and chart new pathways.  Tessa is applying her background, research experience, and passion for education to innovate and promote inclusion in the self-driving industry.  Our partnership with Mobility21 brings together research, industry, and education to re-envision who driving transportation.”

Photo of Rachel and Tessa
Rachel and Tessa

Where does Tessa think she will be in 10 years?  Tessa wants to continue to work in transportation, she says she feels proud to be working in the industry and sees how self-driving cars will help people with disabilities, and increase accessibility.  She says ARGO has locations all over the world, and perhaps she will be able to travel to one of their other locations.


Carnegie Mellon’s RISS Program is an eleven-week summer (June 1 to mid-August) undergraduate research program that immerses a diverse cohort of scholars in cutting-edge robotics projects that drive innovation and have real-world impact. Launched in 2006, RISS is among the best and most comprehensive robotics research programs for undergraduates in the world.

The CMU Mobility21 University Transportation Center has sponsored RISS students since 2017.  The UTC views research and education as two sides of the same coin. We cannot educate for future generations without exposing them to research, development and deployment. We have and will continue to focus on education and workforce development in equal and complementary measure to research, development and deployment.  In addition, the Mobility21 sponsored RISS students have unlocked over $1,000,000 in scholarship support to continue their STEM education.