LTU wins federal grant to teach self-driving vehicle computing

SOUTHFIELD — Eight students from across the country will spend eight weeks this summer at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield developing computer programs for self-driving cars, under a new federal grant.

CJ Chung, professor of mathematics and computer science at LTU, won the $281,712 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will fund three summers of the program, with a new cohort of eight students participating each summer.

The grant is intended for underrepresented populations. Community college students are encouraged to apply. Participants will live in LTU residence halls and receive a stipend of $4,800.

“People will come without knowing how to develop algorithms for vehicles, so we’ll learn how to write them first,” Chung said. “Students will then develop algorithms for the vehicles, we’ll test what they write, and then publish the results. This project will provide active and hands-on learning opportunities for mostly underrepresented students, including community college students, across the country to conduct research on urban road self-driving functions at the using street-legal vehicles.

The project is based on Chung’s 20 years of experience with LTU student teams in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, a collegiate autonomous vehicle event held annually on the campus of Oakland University, supported by the USArmy Ground Vehicle Systems Center, a small local smart vehicle business, Great Lakes Systems & Technology and RoboNation, based in Washington, DC. LTU is the reigning four-time World Champion of the IGVC self-driving car competition. IGVC 2022 is scheduled for June 3-6.

Through Chung’s efforts, LTU obtained two Polaris GEM electric vehicles that were modified with self-driving technology.

Collaborating with Chung on the program is Joshua Siegel, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at Michigan State University. As a young man, Siegel competed for seven years in Robofest, an autonomous robot competition for grades 5-12 that Chung created in 1999. Robofest competitions have attracted more than 30,000 students worldwide since then. .

For more information about Robofest, visit

Chung said all members of the IGVC student team and sponsors dating back to LTU’s first team in 2003 helped him in his efforts to secure the grant. And Chung said “Siegel’s research experience in connected and autonomous vehicles, as well as security, will be invaluable to this undergraduate research project.”

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