RAD Lab Summer Experience



SIE major Benton Turnbull ’16, reporting on his experience this past summer in the RAD Lab, as featured in a recent SEAS pamphlet, pictured above.

I really enjoyed the systems engineering class I took last spring with Professor Amy LaViers, and her research on human motion and robotics inspired my curiosity. I wanted to stay in Charlottesville over the summer, so I sent her an email asking if she needed any help. She replied right away, saying she could use some assistance setting up her lab since it was her first year on faculty. 

Going into an empty room with one robot and a couple of boxes was intimidating at first, but ultimately it was a very fulfilling experience. It was great to have the freedom to translate her vision into a real, working lab. We installed a motion capture system, software and hardware for the robot—and then spent the rest of the summer getting it all to integrate smoothly. 

This was very different from anything I had done before. Normally in school you’re given a problem and someone already knows the answer. In this case, we were dealing with problems that most people haven’t seen before—and we had to track down the resources needed to solve them. That’s a much harder challenge, but it’s much more satisfying and in the process we learned an incredible amount. 

Thanks for the account -- and all the hard work -- Ben!  Ben worked alongside undergraduates Jason Ye and Crispin Bernier as well as graduate students throughout the summer.