Faculty Directory
J. Edward Colgate

Allen K. and Johnnie Cordell Breed Senior Professor in Design

Professor of Mechanical Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech B282
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-491-4264Email J. Edward Colgate


Neuroscience and Robotics Lab (NxR)


Mechanical Engineering


Master of Science in Robotics Program

Master of Science in Engineering Design and Innovation Program

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Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, MIT, Cambridge, MA

S.M. Mechanical Engineering, MIT, Cambridge, MA

S.B. Physics, MIT, Cambridge, MA

Research Interests

Haptics; surface haptics; human-machine interaction; perception; cobots

Professor Colgate's principal research interest is human-robot interaction. He has worked extensively in the areas of haptic (touch) interface, remote manipulation, and advanced prosthetics.  He, along with collaborator Michael Peshkin, is the inventor of a broad class of collaborative robots known as “cobots.” In recent years, Professor Colgate’s research has focused on bringing haptic feedback to touch-based interfaces such as touch screens and touch pads.

Significant Recognition

  • Best Paper Award, CHI 2011 for “Enhancing Physicality in Touch Interaction with Programmable Friction” by Vincent Lévesque, Louise Oram, Karon MacLean, Andy Cockburn, Nicolas D. Marchuk, Dan Johnson, J. Edward Colgate and Michael A.Peshkin.
  • Best Demonstration Award, 2007 World Haptics Conference, Tsukuba, Japan
  • Alumnae of Northwestern Professor of Teaching Excellence, September 2003 - August 2006
  • Leonardo Da Vinci Award for Contributing Significantly to Design Engineering, 2003. Presented by Design Engineering Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
  • Freshman Programs Division (FPD) 2002 Best Paper Award for paper "Enriching Freshman Design Through Collaboration With Professional Designers" by P. Hirsch, J. Anderson, J. E. Colgate, J. Lake, B Shwom, and C. Yarnoff
  • Northwestern University Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award, 2000
  • 1998 ASME Material Handling Engineering Division Best Paper Award
  • Discover Magazine, 1997 Annual Technology Awards
  • Best Conference Paper, 1997 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
  • Best Conference Paper, MHED Division, 1998 ASME Material Handling Engineering Division
  • Henry Hess Award for outstanding paper by a young author in an ASME journal, 1995
  • Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award of the SAE, 1995 Northwestern University Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award

Significant Professional Service

  • Allen and Johnnie Breed University Professor of Design, September 2010 – present
  • Visiting Professor, University of Siena, Siena, Italy, July 2008.
  • Guest Researcher, Mechanical Engineering Laboratory, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Tsukuba Science City, Japan, 2/96
  • Associate Editor, IEEE Trans. Robotics and Automation

Selected Publications

  • Joseph Mullenbach, Michael Peshkin, J. Edward Colgate, “eShiver”, IEEE Haptics Symposium, HAPTICS, (2016)
  • David J. Meyer, Michael A. Peshkin, J. Edward Colgate, “Tactile Paintbrush”, IEEE Haptics Symposium, HAPTICS, (2016)
  • Rebecca Fenton Friesen, Michal Wiertlewski, J. Edward Colgate, “The role of damping in ultrasonic friction reduction”, IEEE Haptics Symposium, HAPTICS, (2016)
  • Daniel J. Brewer, David J. Meyer, Michael A. Peshkin, J. Edward Colgate, “Viscous textures”, IEEE Haptics Symposium, HAPTICS, (2016)
  • Alexandra Lezkan, Steven G. Manuel, J. Edward Colgate, Roberta L. Klatzky, Michael A. Peshkin, Knut Drewing, “Multiple Fingers - One Gestalt”, IEEE Transactions on Haptics, (2016)
  • Michal Wiertlewski, Rebecca Fenton Friesen, J. Edward Colgate, “Partial squeeze film levitation modulates fingertip friction”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, (2016)
  • Hong Z. Tan, J. Edward Colgate, “News from the Field Asia Haptics, 2014”, IEEE Transactions on Haptics, (2015)
  • Michael Wiertlewski, J. Edward Colgate, “Power Optimization of Ultrasonic Friction-Modulation Tactile Interfaces”, IEEE Transactions on Haptics, (2015)

In the Classroom

Professor Colgate led a team of faculty from two of Northwestern's largest schools (McCormick and Weinberg) in the development of an ambitious freshman program called "Design Thinking and Communication" (DTC). DTC introduces students to a user-oriented process of engineering design, and it teaches design and technical communication in a highly integrated fashion. DTC is project-based, drawing clients from the university, local community, and local industry. It is a required course for all engineers at Northwestern.

Prof. Colgate and Prof. Donald A. Norman (emeritus) served as the founding co-directors of Northwestern's Segal Design Institute. Among other activities, the Segal Design Institute offers a Master of Science degree in Engineering Design and Innovation, a certificate in Engineering Design, and a bachelor's in Manufacturing and Design Engineering (MaDE).

Colgate also teaches ME 390, Introduction to Dynamic Systems.