Graduate Student Spotlights 

Mauricio Pereira - Mechanical Engineering

Area of study: Mechanical Engineering, Master’s of Science

Faculty advisor: Dryver Huston

From: São Carlos, São Paulo

Why did you choose UVM? What do you like best about being at UVM?
I was lucky enough to come to UVM as an exchange student on a Brazilian government scholarship. I really enjoyed that year here, both on personal and academic levels, so I decided to come back to UVM to pursue a higher degree in my field.

Why did you choose this area of graduate study? What career will you pursue when you complete your degree?
My bachelor’s degree is in mechanical engineering so that was a natural path to follow, but the underlying reason is that I enjoy working on projects that involve both hardware and software implementation—that requires me to learn new concepts and tools constantly, and the mechanical engineering field is so wide that I figured it would provide me with such opportunities. As for my future career, I will apply for PhD programs in the fall and will hope for the best next year. If I am accepted I will follow that route, otherwise I will look for an industry position.

Tell us a little about the research or project you are working on.
The core of our research group right now is ground penetrating radar (GPR), a technology that enables us to see what is under the ground. Our group has applied this technology to detect underground utilities, for instance. My role in the group involves integration of GPR systems and Augmented Reality (AR) technology, either through smartphones or devices such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, to improve both localization and data visualization. Furthermore, I am also working on developing an image reconstruction algorithm to process radar data. With such an algorithm we can recover the scattering object shape from a multitude of radar signals. That has been a lot of fun for me since I knew very little of radar and AR before getting here!

If you had a time machine and could go back to before you started your graduate program, what advice would you give yourself?
Let yourself get involved in the project but don’t get lost in your “little world.” Communicate often, both with your advisors, other professors, and more experienced graduate students. This helps in many aspects, from expectation adjustment to project insights, better understanding of how the research world works and more.

Can you share a time when a faculty advisor or mentor connected you with either new insights or a valuable opportunity (conference, publication etc.)?
This has happened on multiple occasions to me, as I was lucky to have great orientation. I mostly work with professors Dryver Huston and Tian Xia, and there have been many cases where they provided insights on how to move on when I got stuck with my project, offered a different perspective on the problem, or let me know of valuable opportunities. To mention the most recent, professor Tian Xia is helping me organize papers we plan to submit to two conferences next year. I would have not known of such opportunities without his help.

We submitted two conference papers during my first year, we are hopefully submitting another two this coming month:
1) “3D Tomography for Multi-static GPR Subsurface Sensing,” presented at the SPIE Defense and Commercial Sensing 2018.
2) “New GPR System Integration with Augmented Reality Based Positioning,” presented at the ACM Great Lakes Symposium on VLSI