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At LTU, students from around the nation show off self-driving car programming skill

Release Date: July 14, 2022

Documentary filmmaker Troy Hale, at left, filming LTU computer science professor C.J. Chung and students he brought to campus this summer to develop algorithms for self-driving cars under a National Science Foundation grant. 
LTU photo / Matt Roush

SOUTHFIELD—The small electric cars motoring around a Lawrence Technological University parking lot Wednesday had no drivers. Instead they were using software developed by eight students from all over the United States who are studying at LTU under a National Science Foundation grant

The three-year, $281,712 grant under the NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program has the students working on self-driving car algorithms with C.J. Chung, professor of computer science at LTU and principal investigator on the grant. New cohorts of eight students will spend the summers of 2023 and 2024 at LTU as well.

The students programmed computers controlling two Polaris GEM electric city cars, acquired by LTU through sponsorships sought out by Chung. The cars retail for $12,000, but Chung said that once they’re outfitted with a variety of sensors, computers, and drive-by-wire systems, their actual cost is more like $60,000.

Chung said the program “is a unique, probably unprecedented opportunity offered to undergraduate students to focus on the development of algorithms used in autonomous vehicles, using real vehicles on real roads for testing.”

The students’ test was also recorded by Troy Hale, a journalism professor at Michigan State University. Hale is a veteran documentary filmmaker and TV journalist who has won 32 Emmy Awards.

Self Driving Vehicle Demonstration

The eight students in the first cohort, selected through a competitive process, were:

  • Aarna Bhuptani of Texas, a computer science and mathematics major at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
  • Cebastian Chinolla of Texas, a computer science and mathematics major at the University of Texas at El Paso
  • Ryan Joseph Kaddis of Michigan, a computer science major at LTU
  • Alexander Quezada of New York, a computer science major at City University of New York’s Lehman College
  • Shika Rao, a U.S. citizen living in India, who is an electrical, electronics, communications, and robotics major at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science
  • Seth Rodriguez of Texas, a computer science and mathematics major at the University of Texas at El Paso
  • Heather Song of Ohio, a statistics major at Ohio State University
  • Enver Stading of Iowa, a mathematics and integrative data science major at Nebraska Wesleyan University

Lawrence Technological University is one of only 13 private, technological, comprehensive doctoral universities in the United States. Located in Southfield, Mich., LTU was founded in 1932, and offers more than 100 programs through its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest colleges. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include over 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.


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