Senior Lead Mechanical Engineer
MSME ’86, PhD '89

“I can recall the day that I read a one page description of a Mechanical Engineer. It was like I had found my lost tribe. I’M ONE OF THESE!  As someone who literally cannot remember a time when I wasn’t planning to change the world, I could not have chosen a better area of specialization.”

Dr. Joseph M. Johnson is the Senior Lead Mechanical Engineer at iRobot. After receiving his BSME from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign in 1984, Dr. Johnson earned his MSME and Ph.D. from Purdue in 1986 and 1989, respectively.

While studying for his master’s and Ph.D., Dr. Johnson worked for the Sunbeam Corporation as a repairman and was a research assistant in Purdue’s Engine Controls Laboratory, performing research that included microprocessor-based measurement of crankshaft speed fluctuations in order to determine engine load. He began working for the Delphi Corporation after earning his doctorate degree and worked there for more than 18 years.

In 1994, Dr. Johnson became a visiting scholar in the Automotive Research and Testing Lab in Taiwan, where he worked as a consultant for a government-funded laboratory while on leave from Delphi. He returned to Delphi in 1995 and became a team leader and lead engineer for the Chief Delphi FIRST Robotics Team, which unites students with realworld engineers and scientists as they compete in challenging robotics competitions. Dr. Johnson ended his career at Delphi as a Senior Staff Research Engineer (“Tech 9”) within the Advanced Development Group of Delphi’s Power Products Division when the company was sold to the Strattec Security Corporation in 2007.

After his tenure at Delphi, Dr. Johnson co-founded and served as chief technologist for Robotic Amusements, Inc., a start-up company that sought to put robots in arcade games and developed a patent-pending technology that enabled small robots to work in a coin-operated arcade environment. In 2009, he joined the Advanced Technology and Research Corporation, a research and development company working largely on government-funded research projects, as a principal engineer in the robotics group. Dr. Johnson’s primary responsibility was to lead the mechanical design activity for the robotic arm portion of the Sea Catcher project, a DARPA-funded effort targeted for the Navy to enable the launch and recovery of UAVs from destroyer-class ships in rough waters.

Dr. Johnson joined iRobot in 2010, where he continues to work today as a Core Team member of a robot development team for the Home Robotics Business Unit. He has 21 U.S. patents, including one that was awarded Delphi’s “Boss” Kettering Award for innovative and valuable intellectual property.

While at Purdue, Dr. Johnson was a member of Tau Beta Pi, participated in design competitions, and played volleyball.