Academic Interests in Engineering
I want to pursue a master’s degree and develop my skills as an engineer to develop autonomous vehicles. I am interested in human-machine interaction, controls, and path planning in this particular field. I am currently working at Hyundai Mobis as an engineer in the autonomous engineering team. I believe that a degree in Robotics at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor will help me realize my dreams to be a leader in the development of autonomous vehicles. I graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. I studied a variety of subjects ranging from fluids, thermodynamics, mechanics, and controls. Many of these courses were very intriguing and this was most evident in courses related to vehicle dynamics. I was first introduced to vehicle dynamics when I took ME 131 – Vehicle Dynamics & Control with Professor Hedrick.
Of all the courses that I have taken at UC Berkeley, this course was by far the most applicable and inspiring. Even today, I have applied topics such as tire slip and rigid body dynamics in simulation software (i.e., CarSim and PreScan). My final project paper titled “Automated Highway System: Platooning Analysis of Different ACC System & Efficiency” which compared three different platoon controller models (string-stable spacing, constant spacing, and constant headway), marked the beginning of my aspirations to become an engineer in the autonomous field. The idea of everyday driving being automated using engineering concepts fascinated me. What was even more exciting was the fact that autonomous driving was a safety product designed to save lives.
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Through this course and many more, I realized the vast application and implication of autonomous technology. My dream of working in the autonomous field was soon realized at Hyundai Mobis as an engineer in the autonomous engineering team. I participated on various projects related to level 3 and 4 vehicles inside of the office and outside at the test tracks. I gained exposure to different ideas related to autonomous systems as I collaborated with both US and Korean engineers. My enthusiasm for Mobis’s DDREM product, which detected drowsy drivers and autonomously drove to a safe zone, led me to be a part of the promotional video for both CES and Korean news networks. For all my hard work and dedication, I was awarded ‘2017’s Most Outstanding Employee’. But because of my accomplishments and knowledge gained at Mobis, I became complacent. I was soon comfortable with my lifestyle and its aspects: the job, the salary, and the people.
With the engineering skills and social network in the industry I cultivated, I saw that my career would sustain me for many years to come. The zealous undergraduate student was no longer there and was instead replaced by a complacent working class man. Pursuing a master’s degree will help me rekindle my curiosity for deeper technical concepts and broaden my horizons. That is not to say that my experience at Mobis was all for naught. For starters, my participation in the DDREM project honed my data analysis and algorithm development skills. I conducted studies on drowsy driving by looking at measurements such as yaw-rate, steering angle, and driver torque. From these measurements, I helped to develop algorithms for detecting irregular patterns of drowsy driving such as abnormal lateral motions of the vehicle, the crossing of the lane lines, and abrupt steering torque inputs. The project also incorporated visual perception to detect drowsiness with an IR camera. I trained a face feature detection AdaBoost algorithm to increase its accuracy. With face features such as eye-opening available, I developed the PerClos algorithm to gauge a driver’s attentiveness. Aside from DDREM, I tuned HDA (Highway Driving Assist), a lateral and longitudinal vehicle controller, and gained experience in controls. I spent countless hours tuning the PID yaw rate controller at the track for public roads. Besides the PID controller, I have also tuned tables associated with the vehicle’s offset, heading, and curvature relative to its position to the lane lines for the desired yaw rate calculation. The latest project that I have worked on involved localization for level 3 and 4 systems. In addition to integrating the US map with Korea based algorithm, I improved the accuracy of localization by adding a Naive Bayes classifier to determine the current lane index of the vehicle. To enable map based vehicle control, I calculated the road offset, curvature, and heading based on its position using HD maps.
Finally, for autonomous driving to be possible, I helped developed the global and local path planning for US roads. But I would be lying to say I owned the projects that I have mentioned above. Despite my involvement in these core projects, where I became familiar with the application of algorithms such as the Kalman filter, Dijkstra’s algorithm, Naive Bayesian classification, SLAM, dead-reckoning, and others, I know that my skills lack as a developer. The algorithms that I created at Mobis were built upon fundamental concepts that I was not an expert on. I do not want to remain complacent with what little I know. I want to expand my knowledge of technical subjects and have meaningful discussions with other colleagues. I want to develop my own complex algorithms related to autonomous systems and have others build upon it. In continuation with all this, my enrollment to U of M will benefit the university as well. Having three years experience in the industry, I am familiar with languages such as Matlab, Simulink, and C++. Many of the projects in DDREM and HDA involved using Mathwork software. As a developer, I have experience with toolboxes such as Vehicle Network Toolbox, Simulink Coder, and Matlab Compiler. As an analysis engineer, I have experience creating automated scripts to run thousands of data with interactive GUIs. With the localization project, I have become familiar with C++, OpenGL, and QML. I have used RT Maps SDK software to create localization and path planning modules with these languages. Finally, my experience in the tracks has introduced me to software such as CANape, CANoe, and ControlDesk which I have used to record data and debug code in real-time. These experiences that I have accumulated will definitely benefit the university. My expertise will prove useful in research labs, notably PeRL and FCAV, which are heavily invested in autonomous research.
My skillsets will prove to be desirable as a researcher with prior industry experience amongst students. In conclusion, I am interested in the field of autonomous driving as well as admission to the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. I am excited at the opportunity to interact with the faculty and researchers involved in this field. I hope to learn about current and future breakthroughs during my time at U of M. The intellectual development that U of M fosters will keep my complacent attitude in check and invigorate me to lead in development. Furthermore, my involvement in the industry has given me skillsets that prove to be valuable in class and research.
With all this, I believe that my academic credentials together with my experience in the autonomous industry will help me gain admission to the Robotics Master’s program at U of M. I hope that the university board is convinced of the same and hope to hear back.