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Student Reflects on Robotics Research Experience

Student Reflects on Robotics Research Experience

by Trinity Shaver, Undergraduate Research Ambassador 

Karan Sah, from Lexington South Carolina, is a junior at West Virginia University majoring in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Karan is actively involved on campus as a researcher, an administration assistant for the Physics department, and as the SolidWorks CAD Modeling Lead on the WVU Robotics team. I met with Karan inside a laboratory at the Engineering Research Building on the Evansdale campus where he and the WVU Robotics research team are currently working on innovating projects and preparing for upcoming robotic competitions. 

Karan Sah
Although Karan began research his first year as an undergraduate, he has had a love for roboticsthat began well before college: “I have always had an interest with robotics, even in high school. I first got into robotics with a team in high school and I had a really fun and good time working with them. It's not only the machine building part that I like, but the team building as well. Working with others and competing in collegiate competitions, such as the Mars Ice Drilling competitions, is one of my favorite parts of doing research. I try to get more people involved with the research we do because it's always awesome to grow the team and teach others about robotics.”

Karan is currently working with a research team on building a robot for a competition. “The challenge is at Stillwater, Oklahoma but the robot will be controlled in Morgantown using different IP servers. The robot has to go through a maze and shoot a ping pong ball at a target.” Although he loves being part of the robotics team, he aims to work one day with NASA on composite manufacturing. 

Not only has Karan been involved in undergraduate research at WVU, but at other universities in the nation as well. During the summer of 2018, Karan interned at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana where he served as a research assistant at the Composites Manufacturing & Simulation Center. Karan worked with Dr. Michael Bogdanor and assisted with a project that focused on printing composite molds for compression molding and post-production analysis. 

As he shared his many astonishing experiences, I asked him about how he originally got involved and what he would recommend to those who want to get involved in research. Karan explained how he was first recruited the lead of the robotics team during a student organization fair at Statler College. Following his recruitment, he came under the supervision of a faculty research mentor: “I had computer design experience so I worked on that over the summer and then just started working with Dr. Klinkhachorn, a professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.” 

Karan’s advises upcoming researchers to not only be a part of a research team, but to flourish in it. “Don’t be afraid to ask a professor if they can be involved in their research. The worst that professors can do is say no, so I encourage people to give it a shot…If you have the opportunity to attend a conference or competition, definitely do that. Competitions are a great way to network.” 

When asked for final thoughts on addressing students concerned about breaking into research, Karan was reassuring: “For those that are just getting starting in research, stay committed, stay interested, and stay super involved. If you realize that you don’t like research, then that’s okay. Move on to something else that you are interested in being a part of. If you show interest, your mentor will love you and support you in every way.”