Parasol Website CRA-W DREU
Marcos Pena
Marcos Pena
Undergraduate Researcher
Major: Computer Engineering

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

About me


Computer Scientist

I have extensively worked with many different programming languages including; C++, Java, HTML, and Assembly Language.


For several summers I have been attending an internship at Texas A&M University as a DREU student, and I have also been tested through competition.


I have worked on two projects with A&M and I am currently working on several projects with an independent group.


I will be continuing my undergraduate degree at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley majoring in Computer Engineering.

My works

I have worked under Dr. Nancy Amato for consecutive summers as an undergraduate researcher. At the age of seventeen I have acquired my high school diploma and an associates degree within the field of Computer Science. I will continue my studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where I will be studying Computer Engineering rather than Computer Science. Afterwards I hope to enter a graduate program that will help me progress forward within my major. At the moment I am excited to be continuing a career within the stem field, and I hope that I will always be challenged to better myself. Thanks to the CRA-W DREU Program for making this possible. To view my previous work click here.

 View photos



Dr. Nancy Amato

Unocal Professor/Mentor

Dr. Nancy M. Amato is a Unocal Professor and Regents Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University where she co-directs the Parasol Lab. She is also Senior Director of Engineering Honors Programs in the College of Engineering and Co-Coordinator of the Computer Science and Engineering Track of Engineering Honors.


Irving Solis

Ph. D Student

Irving Solis is currently undergoing his second year as a Ph. D student under Dr. Amato and he is my mentor and project leader for the summer of 2017.


Brandon Martinez

Undergraduate Researcher

Brandon Martinez is currently attending the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley studying computer science for his bachelor's degree. He is working with me at parasol labs for his third consecutive summer.


Leonel Pena

Undergraduate Researcher

Leonel Pena is currently attending the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley studying computer science for his bachelor's degree. He is working with me at parasol labs for his second consecutive summer.

Undergraduate Internships


Summer 2017

The guys


My Skills.

I am proficient in the programming C++, Java, HTML, terminal, and Linux.

I have undergone several rigorous math courses and I have completed the equivalent of an associates degree in math.

This is the second summer in which I create a website and this summer is significantly better opposed to my previous summer's website.

Computer Programming


Math Skills


Web Design


My Project

Motion Planning is the problem of finding a valid path from a start to end configuration. As Motion Planning is an endlessly expanding field of study, better methods of visualization are needed for individuals with little to no experience in Motion Planning. This may sound easy than what it actually is. Motion Planning is a broad problem which requires research in order to properly implement multiple strategies with advantages and disadvantages. A evident problem with motion planning is when a robot's degrees of freedom increase, the problem becomes more difficult. Therefore, the Parasol Motion Planning Library (PMPL) was developed.

Project Goals and Implications

The goal of this project is to develop a Test Suite designed to evaluate Motion Planning algorithms. By the end of the summer we want to provide a set of comprehensive problems that show the capabilities that PMPL has by running several scenarios in a simulator. Additionally, my team and I are also focusing on allowing different PMPL strategies to be used with different variables; gravity, friction, collision, etc, that could otherwise affect the planning process which Vizmo, the current GUI to view the final path after planning, would not take into consideration.

With the help of Irving and others in the lab, we strive to be able to perfect the simulators functionality and performance.


  • Learn the Parasol Lab's software tools for research including PMPL (for motion planning), Vizmo (for visualization), the simulator, and GForge (for group code collaboration).
  • Learn basics of motion planning, mesh files, and visualization.
  • Conduct testing and visual analysis of changes made.
  • Document improvements and optimizations
  • Prepare and present a poster
  • Project Final Products

    Final Report
    Final Poster

    Weekly Reports

    My weekly reports for the summer of 2017.

    • Week #1
      5/30/17 - 6/2/17
    • This is the first week of my second summer here at parasol labs and I am happy to be back working in the office with Dr. Nancy Amato and the graduate students. I am ready to tackle this year's summer project with the guidance of Irving and other graduate students. I have gone through most of the crash course and it's a great refresher to brush up on some forgotten skills. I am excited for the summer and ready to work on our project.
    • Monday
      Memorial Day
    • Tuesday

      • Introduced to the office by Andrew and Diane, and was given a key to the lab.
      • Given accounts to begin working.
    • Wednesday

      • began lesson 0 of the crash course (personal website)
      • Met Irving (my mentor) and the Ph.D students
      • Read first two research papers
      • Introduced to Linux and Terminal and shortcuts to simple commands
      • Began lesson 1 of crash course
    • Thursday

      • Morning meeting with Irving
      • Continued on lesson 1 with the help of Irving and others
      • Worked with PHP and some HTML
      • Fixed problem with adding the executable pmpl with help from Irving
      • Started discussion questions of lesson 1
    • Friday

      • Afternoon meeting about chapter 1 and motion planning with Diane and Irving
      • Finalized discussion questions of chapter 1
      • Continued with lesson 2 of the crash course
      • Read two papers discussing imitating life with robots
      • Worked on the weekly report and updated website to include the first weekly report
    • Goals for next week

      • Finish the crash course and get started on the project with Irving
      • Start creating geometric figures within environments
      • Continue working on website to make it significantly better
    • Week #2
      6/5/17 - 6/9/17
    • This week we worked heavily with the environment and object files through the guidance of Irving. With Dr. Amato returning to the office we have all been assigned our tasks and mentors for the remaining of the summer and we will all be meeting weekly to check on progress and updates. Triangularization will be heavily used this summer as we are working extensively with polygons.
    • Monday

      • Continued to work on crash course
      • Met with Irving and discussed environments and objects
      • Learned how to make an object through triangularization
    • Tuesday

      • Dr. Amato returned to the office and met with all interns and mentors
      • Finished crash course up to chapter 3 as instructed
      • Established groups for the summer projects
      • Played risk with Leo, Diego, and Brandon
    • Wednesday

      • Had a group meeting with Dr. Amato and the mentors
      • Learned the names of everyone in the office through "The Name Game"
      • Discussed parasol and personal web pages
      • Ate delicious Double Daves pizza
    • Thursday

      • Built shapes with triangularization
      • Implemented shapes within an environment
    • Friday

      • Consulted Irving for project
      • Used gForge to report bugs and acquire assignments
      • Began working within a 2D environment
      • Started creating objects for 2D environment
      • Update website with pictures
    • Goals for next week

      • Continue to work on environment and implement objects
      • Progress through summer research project with Irving
      • Create more complex objects for the environment
      • Update and improve website
    • Week #3
      6/12/17 - 6/16/17
    • This was a productive week and we are ready to begin using several degrees of freedom within a two or three dimensional space. We started to work and test the kuka robot and how it will be used in an environment. Also, we will be working with more than six degrees of rather than what we have been doing.
    • Monday

      • Simulated within 3D environment several different strategies
      • Began an environment with Vizmo for quick reference
      • Consulted Irving on this week's tasks and goals
      • Watched the Golden State Warriors defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in game 5 to win the NBA championship
    • Tuesday

      • Helped Mukalika and Diane with displays and computers
      • Used Vizmo more and started to determine roadmaps and paths
      • Continued to run different strategies within the simulator
      • Attended the CRA-W virtual town hall meeting hosted by Dr. Amato
    • Wednesday

      • We completed "2-1" which is a rotational 2D goal
      • Started personal website aside from parasol theme and template
    • Thursday

      • We attended the weekly meeting with Dr. Amato
      • Mukalika presented what she and her students that she is mentoring are doing for the summer
    • Friday

      • Coded with Irving for about half the day after lunch
      • Calculated the degrees of freedom required for the kuka robot
    • Goals for next week

      • Continue to work on environment and implement objects
      • Progress through summer research project with Irving
      • Create more complex environments
      • Update and improve website
    • Week #4
      6/19/17 - 6/23/17
    • This was the end of our first month here at parasol labs and we had quite the productive week. We explored the different modes and degrees of freedom the kuka robot has and it's capabilities. Not only are we progressing fairly well with the summer project, but we are also getting a good chunk of programming time with our mentor Irving. We have been going back and forth asking him questions and for guidance. As of right now we are doing well with the environment and object implementation, and we are doing well in general.
    • Monday

      • Added arrows at goal and start configurations
      • Resized arrows to make environment cleaner

      • Worked with Kuka robot in a planar translational mode

      • Understanding geometric coordinates of Kuka

      • Met with Dr. Amato about current progress with project
    • Tuesday

      • Worked on personal website
      • Created a spreadsheet for statistics analysis

      • Tested all strategies for an analytical summary
    • Wednesday

      • Weekly meeting with all mentors and summer students
      • Converted .obj files to .g files
    • Thursday

      • Worked within Vizmo to accurately create an environment and place objects
      • Implemented Kuka in Vizmo
      • Removed all unnecessary obstacles and cleaned objects in environment
    • Friday

      • Attempted to solely move other degrees of freedom of Kuka robot except for the base
      • Shrunk environment enough so that the base of Kuka doesn't move
      • Diane and Mukalika took us to the MSC for lunch and we all enjoyed panda express
    • Goals for next week

      • Finish the crash course and get started on the project with Irving
      • Start creating geometric figures within environments
      • Continue working on website to make it significantly better
    • Week #5
      6/26/17 - 6/30/17
    • This week was very productive and quite different from the usual. We discovered several issues with our environment, but we were able to change it so that there wouldn't be any more arising issues. Besides that, we did an individual report on an environment and how different strategies performed in them. Using LaTeX was an eye-opening experience, and I am sure we will use it again later on this summer.
    • Monday

      • Worked on my website to update it to include week 4 report
      • Went to work on our kuka environments, but the arm broke apart for some reason
      • Tried to figure out why the kuka wasn't working
    • Tuesday

      • Kept working on the kuka environments
      • Discovered that the arm would break apart if obstacles were too close to it
      • Made a new environment as a result and tested the motion planning strategies on it
    • Wednesday

      • Brandon discovered that any changes made to the environment file in vizmo would save the orientation and angles of obstacles differently, causing an object that was saved in a good location to be spun at a different angle and interfering with the kuka arm
      • As a result, when we wanted to make a change to the environment file, we had to copy the coordinates of the obstacles to save manually and reopen again vizmo
      • Had our websites critiques at the weekly meeting
    • Thursday

      • We got a new assignment from Irving, test all of the Motion Planning strategies and write a report by Friday on them
      • Was assigned an exercise each
      • Learned how to use LaTeX and started writing the report
    • Friday

      • Worked on the report all day
      • Ran simulations to collect data
      • Worked on our weekly report
    • Goals for next week

      • Continue to work on environment and implement objects
      • Progress through summer research project with Irving
      • Create more complex objects for the environment
      • Update and improve website
    • Week #6
      7/3/17 - 7/7/17
    • This was a great and productive week, and there is only a moth left before our tenure here is over so let's make it count. We worked heavily this week with our mentor, Irving, and continuously asked for assistance as we are progressing forward with the project. We are also doing well with the websites as we had started early on them, and I will definitely have a better website than my previous summer here.
    • Monday

      • Worked on website to include the week #5 details
      • Completed the third milestone as it was due soon
      • Returned to kuka environments as we were done with report
    • Tuesday (Day off - 4th of July)

      • Went to the George Bush museum to watch fireworks
      • Enjoyed the day off with my friends
      • Had some wonderful food and festivities overall
    • Wednesday

      • Wrote down coordinates in hopes to find a correlation between them and movement of robot
      • Attended the weekly meeting presented by Sascha presenting about disassembly
      • Was instructed to improve on websites by having a primary parasol people page and linking it to a separate page
    • Thursday

      • Started to update both websites as Nancy instructed
      • Finished Kuka environments and showed to Irving
      • Discussed with Irving the environments and progress of the project
    • Friday

      • Added onto an environment to primarily show how capable the kuka was in a fixed mode
      • Ran simulations of the kuka within the environment with several strategies
      • Consulted Irving with ideas on the environments
    • Reminders for Nancy

      • Complete your milestone as well
    • Goals for next week

      • Continue working on project and website
    • Week #7
      7/10/17 - 7/14/17
    • This week we have progressed fairly well and we are currently coming together collaboratively on the poster and information for this summer's poster session. As of right now we are doing the reports that we were assigned and that are due Monday, but we will finish beforehand so that they are reviewed by our mentors. Overall this summer has been quite fun and we have done well with our work. Thank you and have a nice day!
    • Monday

      • Updated completely both websites as requested by Nancy
      • Attended weekly meeting presented by Diane on computational biology

      • Testing simulator for our reports

      • Got new assignment from Irving for car-like robot
    • Tuesday

      • Updated and recompiled .xml file so that new code can be implemented
      • Started working with non-holonomic

      • Tim and Read assisted us with an issue dealing with the new .xml
    • Wednesday

      • Shrunk robot down and changed it from .g to .obj
      • Changed environment to make it less complex
      • Added extra actuators to robot for different speed
      • Created a triangle to implement as a robot
      • Running tests and gathered stats
    • Thursday

      • Ran simulations for car-like robot and gathered stats
      • Notified about reports due Monday
    • Friday

      • Received template for reports due Monday
      • Began running simulations of nine different strategies
      • Added path length code
      • Andrew assisted us with a script that creates ten different seeds to effectively run programs
      • Went to Carney's with some mentors and friends
    • Week #8
      7/17/17 - 7/21/17
    • There's a solid two weeks left and I'm still excited to be working at the lab. We've progressed steadily with our project as we are now incorporating the create robots into the test suite. The presenting of the poster went well and we're making the correct adjustments and revisions that were given Monday at the meeting. We will be gathering results next week and start practicing for the poster session.
    • Monday

      • Attended weekly meeting where everyone presented their poster for constructive criticism
      • Finished and sent report assigned by Irving of a certain scenario
      • Worked on poster and started revising it according to the constructive criticism given
    • Tuesday

      • Worked on poster with Irving and asked for ideas and improvements on how to properly display information
      • Worked on robot creates and prepared the connections
    • Wednesday

      • Created office environment in Vizmo
      • Scaled environment in proportion to robot
      • Started testing the connection between create and lab machine
    • Thursday

      • Ran simulations within the lab machine and shortly after the robot would mirror within the actual office
      • Adjusted values to see differences with the movement of the create
      • Recorded and captured the create moving and the simulator performing to simultaneously show they're the same
    • Friday

      • Started testing rotations of the robot create
      • Made lengthier start and goal configurations
      • Worked on our weekly report
    • Week #9
      7/24/17 - 7/28/17
    • Next week is the last week and I am happy to say that this summer was fun and very productive. We have been working and collaborating on the poster and paper for the entire week preparing for the poster session. It has been great so far and I am ready to finish strong. Thank you and have a nice day.
    • Monday

      • Consulted Irving with next steps to the project
      • Tweaked website for bugs
      • Reviewed poster and added more text
    • Tuesday

      • Started acquiring data for results section of poster
      • Compared different data and began calculating certain results
      • Completed a rough draft of the paper for the project
    • Wednesday

      • Attended meeting on disassembly planning wrap-up
      • Critiqued posters and given tips for poster session
      • Said goodbye to Sascha as he was leaving back to Germany
      • Gave Sascha a ride to the airport
    • Thursday

      • Started adding results to poster after a statistical analysis
      • Edited the poster and the motivation as they were critiqued
    • Friday

      • Attended seminar on virtual reality and it's applications
      • Reviewed paper with Irving and started preparing a final draft
      • Showed Wookho Son our work for the summer
    • Week #10
      7/10/17 - 7/14/17
    • This was our final week in our tenure here at parasol labs and I think that this was a very productive summer overall. We have designed a suite to evaluate motion planning algorithms which helps parasol labs exercise their algorithms in a range of scenarios. With a goal to provide a set of comprehensive problems. Thank you for having me this summer, and I hope to do this next summer as well.
    • Monday

      • We had our weekly meeting in which we critiqued posters and given suggestions
      • Began working on suggestions that were given at the meeting
    • Tuesday

      • Practiced presentations with mentors and students
      • Ran poster through with Dr. Amato to make sure the poster is ready for the symposium

      • Continued revising paper for our project
    • Wednesday

      • Worked heavily with Irving on the paper
      • Fixed all grammatical and syntax errors within the paper
      • Worked on weekly report early
      • Continued working on poster with the team
      • Abstract was approved by Dr. Amato
    • Thursday

      • Completed and printed poster for poster session
      • Finished paper and exported it to website
      • Created a tar file for final milestone in program
      • Finished final website
    • Friday

      • Presented at poster session
      • Turned in keys for parasol labs
      • Said goodbye to Texas A&M


    Lets get in touch. Feel free to send me a message:

    College Station, US

    Phone: 956-222-7898