I am entering week 4 of my research project at LEMUR and have learned quite a bit. I am making headway on one of my large summer goals as an undergraduate and first-time researcher: Gain an understanding of what 'doing research' actually entails. It is quite a bit different than the normal school experience, as there are no lectures or homework; research seems to be all about working on, and hopefully finding creative and useful insight into, long-term and interesting problems. I am having quite a good time having the ability and opportunity to work on something that is large, challenging, and interesting. I am also grateful for the opprtunity to be a part of a research project during my undergraduate studies. While I am a Math student, and this is an Engineering project, I feel I am able to meaningfully contribute and this experience is very valuable for my current and future education.
I arrived a week earlier than most lab members, and used that time for preparation for the proect with introductory reading and online coursework. I met Ankur, the PI of LEMUR, and I was made familiar with the lab to begin work.
During my second week I met the other members of my team, Alexie and Xin. We are also collaborating with a member from the CORES lab, Samer. We began discussing between ourselves and with Ankur what problem we wanted to study, what papers we wanted to use, and what scope/direction in which we wanted to take this project. We settled on an interesting project largely using Y. Mostofi's (UCSB Engineering) published work from 2016.
Early in the third week, we found that last year Mostofi published work extremely similar to what we planned, so we decided to go in a different direction. We are now utilizing work published by Samer to maximize wireless communication throughput between mobile robots and a stationary base station. While having to change directions like this was a tad frustrating, I am glad we found out about the existence of such similar work rather early.
It is now week four, and I am excited to finally be making progess with our work. Xin and I are working through setting up the physical implementation of our experiment; we are figuring out how to control and program the Roombas to actually conduct the experiment. This week is going to be a great one.