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LTU gets federal grant to teach computer science for self-driving cars

Release Date: March 3, 2022
CJ with cars

LTU's computer science professor C.J. Chung with the university's two GEM electric cars, which have been modified with self-driving technology, in LTU's Buell Building.
LTU photo.

SOUTHFIELD—Eight college students from around the country will spend eight weeks this summer at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield to develop computer programs for self-driving cars, under a new federal grant. 

C.J. Chung, professor of mathematics and computer science at LTU, won the $281,712 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will fund three summers of the program with a new cohort of eight students participating each summer. 

The grant is targeted for underrepresented populations. Community college students are encouraged to apply. Participants will live in LTU’s residence halls and receive a $4,800 stipend. 

“People will come in not knowing how to develop algorithms for vehicles, so we will first teach how to write them,” Chung said. “Students will then develop algorithms for vehicles, we will test what they write, and then we will publish the results. This project will provide hands-on, active learning opportunities for mostly under-represented students, including community college students, across the nation, to conduct research for urban road self-drive functions using street-legal vehicles.” 

The project is based on Chung’s 20 years of experience with LTU student teams in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, a collegiate autonomous vehicle event held each year on the campus of Oakland University, supported by the U.S.Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center, a local intelligent vehicle small business, Great Lakes Systems & Technology, and Washington, D.C.-based RoboNation. LTU is the four-time reigning world champion in the IGVC’s self-driving car competition. The 2022 IGVC is scheduled for June 3-6. 

Through Chung’s efforts, LTU has obtained two Polaris GEM electric vehicles that have been modified with self-driving technology. 

Collaborating with Chung on the program is Joshua Siegel, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at Michigan State University. As a youth, Siegel competed for seven years in Robofest, an autonomous robot competition for grades 5-12 that Chung created in 1999. Robofest competitions have attracted more than 30,000 students worldwide since then. (For more information on Robofest, visit www.robofest.net.) 

Chung said all the IGVC student team members and sponsors dating back to LTU’s first team in 2003 helped in his effort to secure the grant. And Chung said Siegel’s “research experience in connected and autonomous vehicles, as well as security, will be highly valuable to this undergraduate research project.” 

For more information on the program, visit https://www.ltu.edu/arts_sciences/mathematics_computer_science/nsf.asp. Applications with a personal statement, resumé, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation must be submitted through NSF at: https://www.nsfetap.org/award/197/opportunity/195. Accepted students will be notified on a rolling basis until all positions filled or by April 15, 2022. Late applications may be considered if funding remains available. 

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in 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. 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 more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.


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