“Gadget Geek” found his home at Ohio State
As of July 1, Arda Kurt is now a research assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The Ohio State University. While it’s a new position for him, he certainly can’t claim status as “new.” He arrived at The Ohio State University as a graduate student in 2005 and has been part of the department and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) since.
“This has been a gradual change for me,” he explained. “I’ve been a co-PI and have been taking more responsibility along the way, so now I can lead projects. I have supervised students in the lab, for example, and now I can advise students. I will be able to bring graduate students in to my lab.”
Prior to coming to Ohio State as a doctoral student, Kurt received his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Bilkent University in Turkey. Starting at the end of his undergraduate degree and throughout his master’s program, he became interested in robotics.
“Basically big toys,” he said. “I’m a bit of a gadget geek at heart and that kind of thing attracted me.”
After reading an article in the IEEE Spectrum about the DARPA grand challenge in 2004, and listening to the Ohio State graduates in his Bilkent University lab, he applied to graduate school.
“They put Ohio State on the map,” he said. “And they recommended Professor Umit Ozguner. But no one told me about the ‘O-H!’”
Once he was accepted to graduate school, he contacted Ozguner and after an email exchange, they agreed that he would conduct his doctoral research at CAR. He became involved in the next DARPA challenge, the “Urban Challenge,” during his second year in graduate school.
“Again, I got to work on big toys,” he said. “I deal with a lot of high-level decision making and control. How do you make a driverless vehicle act as a human being would act? When do you make a lane change for instance? We do this day in and day out when we are driving. We try to figure out if that car near us is going to turn left if the turn signal isn’t activated. We call it Human Intention Estimation – trying to create a model of a set of decisions a driver makes in a specific situation.”
They have also worked on projects outside the automotive industry.
“Other industries have control needs and we are a control group at heart,” he said. “CAR is our home base. Our bread and butter is automated and connected vehicles.”
By Melissa Weber