Home Page for Juan Burgos | Parasol Laboratory

Picture Juan Burgos
Algorithms & Applications Group

Parasol Laboratory
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-3112
Majors:Double Majoring in Computer Engineering and Applied Mathematics
Graduation Date:May 2012
Primary Group Webpage:http://parasol.tamu.edu/~jlb4248/
Office Number:407 HRBB
Telephone Number:None
Fax Number: (979) 458-0718

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Week 1 : June 1 - 4, 2010

The week began with an introductory seminar for USRG students. It was nice
except for that fact that it was so early in the morning...add to that that I
did not sleep at all the night before, I was too darn excited. Later on, I
participated in a second activity; this time it was held for REU students.
Afterwards, I participated in a "Grand Tour" of campus.

It was hot, it was burning, it was humid, I drank much water when I got back.

I was finally introduced to the research team that I would be working with
and was introduced to the problem that we would be tackling this summer. I
must admit that for the first few group meetings that I was completely at a
loss at what was going on. However, I have hope that soon I will be able to
understand these detailed discussions.

Week 2 : June 7 - 11, 2010

Now that formalities are done with we begin the good stuff. For this first
week I'm tasked with becoming intimately familiar with the source code that
I'll be working with. Also, weekly reading groups will be occurring where
all the newbies (myself included) will be reading and summarizing papers.

A quick note: I got to install an interesting flavor of linux onto a couple
netbooks along with specialized AI software. Also, group discussions are
getting more interesting; since we're having them everyday I'm getting more
and more used to the jargon that's used in the lab. I am no longer completely
lost when the group meeting are being held, just somewhat lost :p

Week 3 : June 14 - 18, 2010

Okay, things have started heating up. The group is splitting up duties for the
next stage of the project. In order for the droids to correctly work with the
group behaviors that have been prepared for them through rigorous experimentation
through simulations, specialized sensors must be provided so that I/O manipulation
of data is possible. The following are 3 of the sensors that have been tasked to
my sub-group...

1. Range Finder
2. External Environment Velocity Sensor
3. Vision Sensor

I started working on the External Velocity Sensor but towards then end decided to switch
over to the Range Finder after discussing it with my sub-group leader Jory. Also, he
was able to complete the Vision Sensor meaning that the last 2 would be tasked to me.

One huge thing that I've come to love of the group environment that I work in is the
comradery that I have with everyone. When lunch comes around, all of us leave in a
group to go chow down and talk about whatever. I really like this open and friendly

Also, this week's USRG seminar was so freaking awesome! He talked about Asteroids in SPACE!
The speaker was energetic and spoke like he truly loved his line of work. Plus, he
talked about how research is more than just a job where you show up, do stuff, then
leave. Oh no, research was a joy of life, something that kept you going, something
that frustrated you, tested you, willed you to learn more...Very inspirational!

Week 4 : June 21 - 25, 2010

This week I've mainly worked on the Range Finder and finally got my code to compile.
Yep, this week was pretty much just me working on code, it's been fun though, I've
played a little with the robots to get them to move around and such without much trouble.

Since a paper deadline is coming up in 2 weeks everyone's gotten serious. I'm still
having a few issues with my Range Finder's logic since stuff appears in its range
when literally nothing is out there! WHY!!?

The USRG seminar talked about how vaccines can be grown in tabacco plants to speed up the
process of vaccine mass production. The speaker seemed interested in his line of work but
wasn't as energetic as the last guy.

Week 4 : June 28 - July 2, 2010

A few of the teammembers are on the war-path to complete their parts of the project
as quickly was possible. At least this is how I sometimes picture it :P

I now have a friend from another research project named Plamen who is working with me
on the Range Finder. Thank goodness he's here, because he found a huge logic error
in my code. We eventually resolved this issue and decided to split up duties on the
sensors. He would finish what I started with the External Velocity Sensor while I
would complete the Range Finder. It was pretty darn stressful this week since the
deadline is RIGHT THERE around the corner.

Plamen got his EV code to compile while I'm still working on the visualization portion
of the Range Finder code. We discovered some issues with the EV code however and have
begun debugging those while still tackling the Range Finder.

This week's USRG seminar was a rough introduction to graduate school and industry level
resume/CV construction. CV's are pretty much the "resumes" of graduate school
which, unlike resumes, have no page limits and a more of a personal documentary than
a strict "readme" of my skills and awesomeness that would be the classic resume.

Week 5 : July 5 - July 9, 2010

The Wafr deadline was extended! We've got till this upcoming Friday to complete
our work. The majority of the team is still working on integrating the Group
Behaviors in the robots to get experimental results for the Wafr paper.

At the same time, Plamen and I are completing our work on the EV and RF sensors.
I've pretty much already finished my RF sensor and have verified that it is
scanning the appropriate regions of C-space around the agent in simulation. Plamen
is having a few issues trying to make the EV sensor a "stand-alone" sensor that
does not require a previously initialized RF or Visual Sensor to be intialized.

The USRG Seminars this week were the first two of the USRG program's GRE
prep workshops. They were very interesting seminars to be quite honest. The only
thing that annoyed me was that the level of mathematics that would be present in
the GRE would be middle school and early high school level. The vocabulary section
was a different story all together since I still need to work on my vocabulary.

Week 6 : July 12 - July 16, 2010

I'll have to retract my previous statement about finishing the RangeFinder haha.
Apparently there was an issue with non-integer values for angle and distance
values. This issue appeared along with some memory management problems with my
code that made it extremely inefficient. By Thursday I had most of the problems
fixed. It was very stressful.

I've also added several additional abilities to my RangeFinder that include
"collision warning" flags along with "collision avoidance" response facilities.
They are not operational since the group behaviors have to make use of them first,
but they are there just in case the group behaviors need to make use of them.

GRE workshops are getting much more serious, we are being assigned problems to work
on during the workshops. Again, the math isn't too difficult, it's the vocabulary
that's a killer.

Week 7 : July 19 - July 23, 2010

Well, the GRE workshops ended this week. Now I've got to study on my own with the resources
that were provided to prepare for the real thing. Other than this, nothing really happened
this week other than the fact that I had to start writing my research paper and poster!
I had completely forgotten about those things, they are now due next week, with the paper's
abstract due by next Tuesday. I had better get on top of things.

On a side-note, it is good to know that I'm not the only one who has procrastinated this
week, apparently so did everybody else (except for the one guy in my lab who doesn't have
to do one haha).

Week 8 : July 26 - July 30, 2010

It was a rush against time but I've been able to finish the poster and most of the paper. Things
are looking great! The paper's giving me a few problems though since I'm using LaTeX which I am
unfamiliar with. Seriously, compiling LaTeX documents is a pain sometimes.

*UPDATE* My computer crashed Saturday, July 31 at 9:35 PM ... My paper is now gone and now I'm in
a serious world of hurt because I've only got 3 days to complete the thing from scratch! Luckily
I have an idea of what to write since I had been working on the paper for a while, thing is that
I didn't have any other copies saved so I didn't remember the specifics of what I had written,
just the basic ideas of each section. Worst of all was the bibliography ... I had to hunt down
the papers all over again. Even though I found them pretty quickly, it was still troublesome.

Week 9 : August 2 - August 6, 2010

The final chapter in the story is now upon us ... Monday I had a practice presentation in front of
the other CS REU students. To say the least, it did not go as smoothly as I would have hoped. Practice
is essential when you want to effectively present something to a crowd of computer science experts.

However, I took this experience to heart and prepared for Tuesday's campus-wide REU Poster session. It
was fantastic! Practicing had paid off with interest!! I attracted a crowd of people ranging from
undergraduates to professors who wanted to ask me about my project. I was so excited that I literally
did not stop talking for over 80 minutes!

Finally ... Friday came and it was a smashing success! Everyone provided me with positive feedback with
respect to my presentation. It was awesome! I really did love doing research here this summer. I learned
a lot, met tons of interesting people, and made amazing friends along the way. If anyone is actually
reading this journal, please consider conducting research through an REU or USRG program. You will work
at it, live it, and you WILL love it! As a friend a would put it, "It's ze spice of life!" :-)