Doctoral Adventure in Robotics and Automation

Doctoral Adventure in Robotics and Automation

One of the best decisions I made in my academic career is pursuing my Ph.D. at the University of Southern California (USC). This opportunity allowed me to land a fantastic job as a Sr. Software Developer - Robotics & Motion Planning.

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering allowed me to expand my knowledge horizon by offering a wide variety of coursework. Even though I had joined to pursue a Ph.D. with a Mechanical Engineering major, I was able to take courses in machine learning and robotics. The other great benefit that USC provided is the vast alumni network. This network afforded me the opportunity to secure internships and collaborate on projects to further improve the quality and impact of my research.

My research at USC includes fundamental work in the areas of artificial intelligence, computational geometry, motion planning, machine learning, optimization, and robotics. I demonstrated these works by performing novel experiments in the field of robotic additive manufacturing. During the course of my doctoral studies, I conducted my research at the USC Viterbi Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM). Having visited other research laboratories at top schools, including a few in other countries, I found myself fortunate as none of these schools had the facilities like the ones I had at USC. For example, USC CAM, housed sophisticated equipment such as a metal Three-Dimensional (3D) printer and robotic manipulators from Yaskawa, Kuka, Universal Robots, Epson, and more. This allowed me to experimentally validate most of my research and have a higher impact on the research community—and to date, I have over 25 publications.

One of the keys to my successful Ph.D. career, was my advisor Professor Satyandra K. Gupta. Professor Gupta, the director for the Center for Advanced Manufacturing (who did his undergrad at IIT Roorkee and masters at IIT Delhi before immigrating to US for his PhD and various academic appointments) provided me with a tremendous amount of freedom in directing my research. He went above and beyond to provide me with all the necessary equipment and facilities to perform groundbreaking research within this unique lab. Moreover, he always found time from his busy schedule to have brainstorming sessions to improve my research further. He trained me to be a sound researcher and a leader in the field of robotics and additive manufacturing. The knowledge, intellect, and wisdom I gained during my Ph.D. was possible only by his motivation.

The videos of a few of the robotic additive manufacturing applications done using my research can be found on the CAM USC Viterbi YouTube channel.

Prahar Bhatt is a Sr. Software Developer - Robotics & Motion Planning who lives in Los Angeles. He completed his doctorate at USC in December 2021.