Faculty Directory
J. Edward Colgate

Walter P. Murphy Professor of Mechanical Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech B282
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-491-4264Email J. Edward Colgate


Center for Robotics and Biosystems


Mechanical Engineering


Master of Science in Robotics 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.” Professor Colgate’s has also developed technologies that bring haptic feedback to touch-based interfaces such as touch screens and trackpads. He is currently working in three areas: 1) tactile texture recording and reproduction; 2) high-speed electroadhesive clutches for applications in haptics and robotics; and 3) remote manipulation with dexterous robotic hands.

Significant Recognition

  • Member, National Academy of Engineering since 2021
  • IEEE Transactions on Haptics Best Application Paper Award for “The Application of Tactile, Audible, and Ultrasonic Forces to Human Fingertips Using Broadband Electroadhesion,” Craig D. Shultz, Michael A. Peshkin and J. Edward Colgate IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 11(2):279-290, 2018
  • Researcher to Know, 2018 (Inaugural Class). Illinois Science & Technology Coalition
  • Best Paper Award, 2018 IEEE Haptics Symposium for “On the Electrical Characterization of Electroadhesive Displays and the Prominent Interfacial Gap Impedance Associated with Sliding Fingertips: C. Shultz, M.A. Peshkin and J.E. Colgate
  • Inductee, Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, 2015
  • Fellow, National Academy of Inventors since 2015
  • Honorable Mention Award, CHI 2014, for “Exploring Affective Communication Through Variable-Friction Surface Haptics,” Mullenbach, J., C. Shultz, J. E. Colgate, and A. Marie Piper. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '14), Toronto, Canada
  • Fellow of the IEEE since January 2014

Significant Professional Service

  • Awards Chair, World Haptics Conference 2021
  • Advisory Committee for Smart Haptics 2017-2020, the first industry-facing haptics conference
  • Chair of Steering Committee, IEEE World Haptics Conference, 2015-2017
  • General Chair of World Haptics 2015, Evanston, IL.
  • IEEE Transactions on Haptics, Founding Editor-in-Chief, 2007-2014
  • IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, Associate Editor, 1998-2003

Selected Publications

  • Chatterjee, Sitangshu; Ma, Yuan; Sanghani, Adit; Cherif, Mondher; Colgate, J. Edward; Hipwell, M. Cynthia, Preferential Contamination in Electroadhesive Touchscreens, Advanced Materials Technologies (2023).
  • Kim, Jin Tae; Shin, Hee Sup; Yoo, Jae Young; Avila, Raudel; Huang, Yonggang; Jung, Yei Hwan; Colgate, J. Edward; Rogers, John A., Mechanics of vibrotactile sensors for applications in skin-interfaced haptic systems, Extreme Mechanics Letters (2023).
  • Grigorii, Roman V.; Klatzky, Roberta L.; Edward Colgate, J., Data-Driven Playback of Natural Tactile Texture Via Broadband Friction Modulation, IEEE Transactions on Haptics (2022).
  • Burns, David Arthur; Klatzky, Roberta L.; Peshkin, Michael A.; Colgate, J. Edward, A Low-Parameter Rendering Algorithm for Fine Textures, IEEE Transactions on Haptics (2022).
  • Grigorii, Roman V.; Colgate, J. Edward; Klatzky, Roberta, The spatial profile of skin indentation shapes tactile perception across stimulus frequencies, Scientific reports (2022).
  • Burns, David Arthur; Klatzky, Roberta L.; Peshkin, Michael A.; Colgate, J. Edward, Spatial perception of textures depends on length-scale, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.:415-420 (2021).
  • Tan, Sylvia; Roosa, R. Daelan; Klatzky, Roberta L.; Peshkin, Michael A.; Edward Colgate, J., A Soft Wearable Tactile Device Using Lateral Skin Stretch, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.:697-702 (2021).
  • Xu, Heng; Klatzky, Roberta L.; Peshkin, Michael A.; Colgate, J. Edward, Localizable Button Click Rendering via Active Lateral Force Feedback, IEEE Transactions on Haptics 13(3):552-561 (2020).

In the Classroom

Prof. Colgate teaches ME 390 Introduction to Dynamic Systems as a flipped class, and he co-teaches ME 474 Robot Design Studio.

Previously, he 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).