Alex Warren: Autonomous Car and Simulation

Student Spends Summer at the Controls of a Driverless Car

University of Arizona students are returning to class with stories to tell about what they did over summer break. But how many can say they spent the summer at the controls of a driverless car? Alex Warren can.

As part of a prestigious National Science Foundation program, he spent 10 weeks with nine other college students from across the country helping advance the University of Arizona’s CAT vehicle, or cognitive and autonomous test vehicle.

The NSF program, Research Experiences for Undergraduates, provides opportunities for undergraduates to work with faculty mentors and graduate students at universities throughout the United States. Warren was one of only two UA students who found just what they were looking for right at home.

“I really learned a lot from these guys,” said Warren.

Warren, who is studying computer engineering, and his project teammates worked on making the application that runs the car more versatile.

Jonathan Sprinkle, a professor in electrical and computer engineering and recent NSF Career Award winner who led the 2013 University of Arizona REU program, stressed that the program is far more than an opportunity to work on programming a robotic car. It opens up a world to which many undergraduate students do not have access.

“Students leave here knowing what research is and how interested they are in doing research,” he said.


To view a video about Alex Warren’s REU experience, visit

For more on the UA CAT vehicle program, visit

To learn more about the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, visit


Professor Jonathan Sprinkle, University of Arizona College of Engineering