UC Merced Student Spends Summer at the Controls of a Driverless Car

Every Fall, students return 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? University of California, Merced student Juan Guerra can.

Thanks to a University of Arizona College of Engineering 10-week summer research program focused on driverless car technology, Guerra and 11 other college students helped to advance the UA CAT vehicle, or cognitive and autonomous test vehicle. Guerra worked to improve vehicle-to-vehicle communications while reducing power consumption of communications systems.

“I like the programming part of the research I did this summer,” Guerra said. The NSF program, Research Experiences for Undergraduates, or REU, provides opportunities for undergraduates to work with faculty mentors and graduate students on exciting research projects at universities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. University of Arizona electrical and computer engineering professor Jonathan Sprinkle, an NSF CAREER Award winner who led the 2015 University of Arizona REU program, said the program was a good way to introduce students to research and graduate school.

“Going through this program has definitely swayed me more toward applying for graduate school,” he said. 

For more on the UA CAT vehicle program, visit http://catvehicle.arizona.edu/, and to learn about the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, visit http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/