ECU student earns second in national research poster competition

The idea of a car that drives itself may seem like something for the future, but vehicles with some driver assistance systems are already on the road today.

As technology improves, the use of autonomous vehicles is expected to increase, and that could affect traffic flow in cities like Greenville.

East Carolina University graduate student Matt Carroll, right, and Dr. Jinkun Lee, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering.

East Carolina University graduate student Matthew Carroll and Dr. Jinkun Lee, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering, are working to develop traffic simulation models that include a mix of autonomous and conventional vehicles.

“The work involves developing a traffic network model of Greenville with the integrated mobility simulation platform SimMobility,” Carroll said. “The focus of this work is to analyze the transient effect caused by the transition from conventional to autonomous vehicles.

“This work has the potential to predict the issues caused by the addition of AV in the Greenville traffic network. The impact of this work will help to implement solutions to the issues that occur from this transition. Future work with this model will include analyzing bus routing and traffic light timing.”

Carroll’s research poster placed second in the national Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Eta Kappa Nu Lambda Zeta Student Poster Competition that was part of the IEEE North Tech-SAS Summit.

“After receiving second place for the contest, it felt rewarding, a breath of fresh air, knowing that all the hard work I put into the work was being recognized and appreciated,” Carroll said. “This work has taught me how to organize and break down large projects. There is an immense amount of work involved in developing and validating a large model such as this. Many issues arose where I had to implement problem-solving skills to identify the source of the issues.”

Carroll said work still remains on the project, which includes using traffic camera footage to create simulations of current traffic flow, developing a behavior model of an autonomous vehicle through the SimMobility simulation, introducing conventional and autonomous vehicle models into the traffic flow simulator and analyzing the effect on traffic flow.

Beyond the poster competition, the virtual IEEE summit provided Carroll the opportunity to hear about the work of other student researchers.

“There was a wide variety of topics including rust detection sensors for oil pipes, thermal image procession to detect emergencies, an autonomous foosball table and many more,” he said. “I learned a lot about the issues other presenters brought up and the solutions they proposed.”

Carroll, who is from Goldsboro, is seeking his master’s in software engineering. He expects to get his degree in the spring of 2022.

“After graduation I would like to be involved with implementing software solutions to engineering processes,” he said. “I am interested in the automation of manufacturing processes and testing, data analysis, and the development of engineering design software.”

He said choosing to attend ECU was a simple decision.

The primary reason I decided to study at ECU was all the opportunities available with ECU’s College of Engineering and Technology,” he said. “There are clubs, educational programs and research opportunities that give a diverse selection of extracurricular activities to students.”

He said he appreciated the opportunity to be a part of the research as well as the support of Lee and Dr. Rui Wu, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science.

The CET departments give a personal experience with the faculty,” Carroll said. “In both the engineering and computer science departments, I felt invited to discuss my studies with the faculty and they were always eager to help any way they could.”

— By Ken Buday