Research on autonomous drones, a project that Dhruvil Darji ’18 started while earning his master of science in electrical engineering at Loyola Marymount University, helped pave the way for his current work on electric vehicles at Evelozcity. Darji’s experience at LMU embodies his drive for industry relevant research and practicality, and demonstrates how the graduate program is customizable for all graduate students.
Darji’s decision to pursue the master’s program thesis option was initially a struggle because the specificity of the degree did not align with what he wanted to ultimately do. He and his faculty mentor, Gustavo Vejarano, director of the Electrical Engineering Graduate Program and associate professor of electrical engineering, mapped out a program and project that aligned with Darji’s career aspirations. Catering to his interest in embedded systems and communications, Darji settled on his thesis: Counting and Locating Targets using Multiple Drones in Minimum Time, a project using autonomous drones that collaborate to perform a given task.
Darji believes that the one-on-one connection with professors and the flexible and customizable options made his experience at LMU exceptional. He agrees that the mentorship with Dr. Vejarano made him more marketable in his job search after graduation. He said he benefited from the hands-on learning opportunities and small class sizes.
“Dhruvil was a self-motivated and disciplined student and researcher,” said Vejarano. “He demonstrated great analytical and experimental skills in courses and research.”
As a complement to the course curriculum, Darji was a graduate assistant for Vejarano and an intern at Lucky13 Creative. Through his research, Darji earned his remote pilot license from the Federal Aviation Administration. He also developed algorithms that executed on multiple drones to control their flight paths and locate targets on ground in minimum time. He published his research at the 15th Conference on Computer and Robot Vision (May 2018, Toronto, Canada) and is now working on his second paper.
Entrepreneurship major Sara Appelqvist is an engineering assistant with the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering.