College Students From Diverse Backgrounds Experience UA Research

TUCSON, Arizona -- Visiting undergraduate students, including some who are the first in their families to attend college, experienced hands-on research---and hands-off driving---in a National Science Foundation program at the University of Arizona this summer. They will demonstrate their driverless tech research projects on the UA campus Aug. 11.

A dozen students from New York Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois, Georgia Southern University and other schools astounded themselves with their talent for research and the ways in which research empowered them. The students are participating in the NSF's Research Experiences for Undergraduates, or REU, program, designed to give students from diverse backgrounds valuable research opportunities at major U.S. universities.

"We're showing these students what research is really like," said the UA's Jonathan Sprinkle, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and a well-known expert on complex autonomous systems, including driverless car technology. He has hosted the REU program at the UA for the past three years.

"Research experience is a key indicator for success in science and engineering, and we've got an incredible cohort of students working on exciting projects that pique their interest," Sprinkle said.

Working in Sprinkle's lab, the REU students developed apps for controlling the UA Cognitive and Autonomous Test, or CAT, vehicle, which Sprinkle and other researchers developed.

Media contacts:
Jonathan Sprinkle
UA Electrical and Computer Engineering

Sydney Donaldson
UA Electrical and Computer Engineering

The University of Arizona, the state's super land-grant university with two medical schools, produces graduates who are real-world ready, through its 100% engagement initiative. Recognized as a global leader for the employability of its graduates, UA is also a leader in research, bringing more than $580 million in research investment each year, ranking 19 among all public universities. UA is advancing the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships, and is a member of the Association of American of Universities, the 62 leading public and private research universities. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $8.3 billion annually.

CAT Vehicle under autonomous control. Image credit: University of Arizona.