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Dayton Engineer

Carroll High School Student Expands Research with Help from Vision Lab at the University of Dayton

By Elizabeth Skelin, marketing communications intern

Ashley Martin, a Carroll High School student, set ambitious goals for her science fair project and reached out to the University of Dayton’s Dr. Vijay Asari and his Vision Lab team to help achieve them.

Inspired by her work in a center for people with disabilities, Martin became interested in how brain machine interface (BMI) systems could help people with mobility issues to express themselves creatively. Using electroencephalography, a technique for recording and interpreting the electrical activity of the brain, and robotic arms, her project would allow people to paint by using mental commands.

Through independent research, Martin discovered the Vision Lab’s research with BMI and looked to learn more. Setting her sights on working in the Vision Lab, Martin created and presented a research plan to Asari, leading to an internship completing meaningful research for her science fair project. 

The Vision Lab works to develop new algorithms for real-time applications, where the main goal is to invent new technology in various areas, such as signal processing, pattern recognition, aerial imagery analysis, among others. The space allows students and employees to collaborate on projects. The Vision Lab has built relationships with universities worldwide, businesses, and the U.S. Armed Forces. With these resources and the enthusiastic participation of the lab’s researchers, Martin was granted an exceptional opportunity to learn and advance her research. 

Martin’s project stemmed from ongoing BMI research; her extension of the project allows for new applications to encode and optimize new control signals. Projects like this will eventually aid in improving the independence of those with disabilities. 

Martin went on to win several awards for her BMI robotic system, including the Naval Science Award and first place prizes from the Association of Mechanical Engineering and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Furthermore, this project propelled Martin into an internship at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. 

Martin holds this project as a starting point for future success. From here, she hopes to major in electrical and computer engineering with a focus in neuroscience, eventually using her skills to reduce limitations for people with disabilities.

Above all, Martin learned a new level of dedication through her research at the Vision Lab.  “The countless hours I spent completing this project showed me that my goals are achievable,” she said.  “I now know that whatever challenges come my way can be overcome with determination and effort.”

Martin’s project has further application to encode human thoughts into text on a screen or synthetic speech, furthering the Vision Lab’s mission of invention, innovation, and inspiration.  

“Ashley’s developmental efforts in this project demonstrated her sincerity, diligence, and motivation,” Asari said. “She has an excellent future in engineering ahead of her.”

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