PhD student interns at Oculus VR
MechSE graduate student Arun Lakshmanan recently completed a competitive summer internship with the company Oculus VR. In this position, he was researching within the field of virtual reality, also known as VR.
Oculus VR is a company specializing in virtual reality hardware and software. Their most well-known product is the Oculus Rift, which was the first commercially available VR headset on the market. This product became popular in the video gaming community due to the ability of developers to create custom programming for the software. The company is currently doing research in many areas, including VR, optics, and computational imaging.
Lakshmanan conducts research in robotics and controls, focusing on motion planning and collision detection, as a part of Professor Naira Hovakimyan’s research group in the Advanced Controls Research Laboratory. He has previously done research on the effects of drones in residential settings, in which VR software was programmed to emulate drones flying in public areas in order to create a more controlled setting for the research.
Lakshmanan said his motivation to apply for this position was derived from both his research history and the possibility of working in a field at such an infantile stage where there is such a large amount yet to be discovered.
“It’s still pretty cool when you try it on but you cannot experience VR the same way we do real life – you cannot focus on different things at the same time, and you get nauseous if you wear it for long periods of time. So they are trying to tackle these problems and there are interesting research questions that can be asked which relate to my field.”
Lakshmanan plans to complete his PhD by the end of 2020 and anticipates going into industry R&D.
He previously had two internships: one with Qualcomm Research in which he worked on building drone platforms and another with a start-up in Florida involving LiDAR systems. He graduated from Vellore Institute of Technology in India with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and earned his master’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Illinois.