Tosin Omofoye: Building Networked Robots

Pratt Undergraduate Research Fellow Profile
  • Major:  Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Advisor: Michail Zavlanos
  • Pratt Fellows Project: Target Localization using Stereo Vision on Quad-Copters

How did you get interested in engineering?

I’ve always been interested in engineering ever since I was a little kid. I loved the idea of building and making things to improve the world. In high school I was part of a pre-engineering program called Project Lead the Way, where I got to take some early design, modeling and engineering classes, which made me like engineering even more.

I was also part of a robotics competition for a National Society of Black Engineers junior chapter where we had to design, build and program a robot to accomplish some tasks, like picking up a can and moving it to a specific area. It was really challenging but also really fun and rewarding. So yeah, I’ve always loved engineering, and I came to Duke and now I’m an engineer.

What sorts of projects are you working on as a Pratt Fellow?

We’re working on these quad copters right now. We have three that we’ve built, and the focus of the lab is in network systems. We have to get multiple robots, sensors and wireless networks to communicate with each other. A lot of the research is in developing the best algorithms for communications or for accomplishing a specific task. For example, some of the applications can be for environmental monitoring or the 3-D reconstruction of a room for search-and-rescue operations.

What do you think of the Pratt Fellows program?

I really like the Pratt Fellows program. I think it’s a great opportunity to get into a specific research program, and I like how there was a big variety of topics to choose from. I think there’s something for everyone. It’s also helping me to see if I want to continue to do research in the future, if I want to go to graduate school or if I want to go take a break from school and researching and just go work.

What’s it like working with the faculty?

The faculty here are really great. My mentor, Dr. Zavlanos, was very understanding when it was kind of tough to get in here during the school year. He’s also smart and helpful whenever we have problems. We have weekly lab meetings, so everyone always knows what other people are doing in the laboratory. It’s a great problem-solving method and a great way to do research.

And Dean Gaston is also creating a good environment for the Pratt Fellows. He’s having lots of events for those that are here during the summer.