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Winter 2001

Sergi named Student of the Year

Photo of Michael Sergi and Mortimer Downey

Michael Sergi, left, receives the award from then-Deputy Secretary Mortimer Downey of the USDOT

Michael Sergi, a research assistant at the ITS Institute's Intelligent Vehicles Laboratory, has received the ITS Institute Outstanding Student of the Year Award for 2000.

Sergi was recognized for his work on developing the web-based laboratory used as a baseline for the ITS Interdisciplinary Laboratory and for helping students learn how to put the pieces of a complex system together. The laboratory, used in the mechanical engineering robotics course, required students to write and test their own software to automate the steering and guidance systems of a truck so that it could drive on a test road digitized in a geospatial database—i.e., a digital map.

As the teaching assistant for the class, Sergi wrote the technical background that was used for the project and developed and tested the software that the students used. He set up the simulation of the dynamics of a truck to work and operate within a new commercially available embedded computing environment, QNX. Students could access various sensors of velocity, position, and heading angle, which were captured by the computer model, and control the steering, brakes, and throttle on the vehicle by sending appropriate commands in their software. According to Professor Max Donath, instructor for the course, the Institute hopes to use the system as a model for training future transportation professionals in the component technologies of ITS.

Receiving the Student of the Year Award was gratifying, Sergi says, because "it made me feel that I contributed something worthwhile to the field [of ITS]." Sergi is pursuing his master's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota. He received the award in January at the Transportation Research Board 80th Annual Meeting held in Washington, D.C.