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STEM Student Voice: Jamie Poston

Autonomous Vehicles

By Jamie Poston

 

About MeJamie Poston

I’m a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno pursuing a Master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering. In particular, I work in the Intelligent Mobility Laboratory and I work on motion planning systems for an autonomous vehicle. My interests include Machine Learning, Robotics, and Data Science.

My Career Goals

Strangely enough, I’m still figuring that bit out! I know I would like to work in computer science or data science, I’m not exactly sure what that will look like in the future. I could continue my education and try for a doctorate, or I could go further into the field of data science by leveraging statistics to find neat results, or I could join some company that is trying to build autonomous vehicles. Who knows! As I complete my degree, I’ll narrow my focus a bit, but for now I’m happy to continue researching in a laboratory.

Why STEM?

My parents are super into STEM stuff; my dad is a civil engineer and my mom is a geologist. But nothing really seemed to catch my eye until I started participating in FIRST robotics. I hadn’t ever programmed before, so a lot of it was really hard. But it was so much fun! I really enjoyed figuring out all the logic in the programs, and finding bugs in my code. When I went to UNR, I naturally started as a CS major. But as I took more and more classes, I found I really liked math as well! What I do now, using machine learning on an autonomous vehicle, is really a good combination of the two. I use math to calculate the best possible path for the vehicle, then I implement it using code.

My Advice

I struggled a lot as STEM student. If I came across a hard concept in my studies, my gut reaction was to assume I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out. But that’s just silly, and self-destructive! Now, I still feel like that sometimes, but I have to remind myself that: anyone can learn anything, as long as they work hard and take the time to learn it! It might be hard to believe that when you’re first starting out. But I’ve completed a whole bunch of difficult computer science courses at UNR that just seem super incomprehensible at the beginning. Even worse, for some classes it seemed that other people already knew a lot of stuff, whereas I didn’t know anything! But every time, I studied hard and challenged myself to figure out every word or every concept I didn’t know that everyone else did. Even now, I sometimes have no idea what’s going on. But, I know that as long as I put in the time to understand it, I can eventually figure it out. Hopefully that helps you as well!

 

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