REU Reflection & Wrap-Up

Today marks the last day of the REU program here at University of Wisconsin-Stout. During the last 8-weeks, Meng and I worked on developing robotics to help the blind navigate complex, indoor environments. We made significant progress towards our goal, and I learned a lot. The major players in our research project was the iRobot Create 2 development platform, BeagleBone-Black, wireless Bluetooth module, and a SLAM algorithm using a webcam.

Although we did not end with a finished and polished system, our progress is still significant and important. And, I do encourage this project to be continued during the next summer’s Robotics REU program. Being able to provide assistive robotics to those in need for a low-cost could change people’s lives because most assistive robots in today’s market are very expensive. The most impressive aspect that I took away from this research is the amount of creativity, technical ability, and user experience knowledge that one must develop in order to work in this area. Robotics truly is an intriguing interface between software, hardware, and human factors that makes it challenging and a fun place to be. This program introduced me to all of this, and for that I am truly grateful to the University of Wisconsin-Stout REU program and to the National Science Foundation as the granting organization.

Spending the last 8-weeks in Menomonie has flown by. I have really enjoyed spending time with all of the other REU researchers, exploring the UW-Stout campus, and getting to know different faculty. As a part of the program, I was introduced to a lot of different people including different engineering faculty, the great people at the Vocational Rehabilitation building, and the GRE tutors from the McNair program. This program has opened me up to how research can be conducted and has made me begin to think more seriously about my future and graduate school possibilities.

Lastly, I’d like to thank all of the REU mentors: Cheng Liu, Devin Berg, and Wei Shi. Thank you for all of the work it takes to apply for this NSF grant, organize the events, and provide a place for this to happen. A special thanks to Professor Cheng Liu who directly advised Meng and I in our research project.

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