Passion Pitch: Student Neehar Peri Conducts Research in the Center for Automation Research

Neehar Peri, Cohort 31

QUEST means a lot of things to different people, but the majority of the QUEST community agrees that the values, skill sets, and connections gained from QUEST have been invaluable to them in their academic, professional, and personal lives outside of QUEST. Neehar Peri, a computer engineering major from Cohort 31, is one such student who used a lot of QUEST concepts while conducting research on vehicle reidentification on campus.

Peri first heard about QUEST through fellow QUESTee David Rosenstein from Cohort 29. David and several other QUEST students were giving an interactive presentation where students in the audience were asked to participate in a group activity.Peri said he “really enjoyed the activity and found it aligned with [his] strengths and interests.” Peri is also a member of the Business, Society, and Economy Scholars program and mentioned that the program “taught [him] the value of human centered design and creating with the customer in mind.” This madePeri wish to pursue consulting and “find a community of like-minded individuals,” which is why he applied to QUEST.

On campus,Peri works for the Center for Automation Research (CfAR), a subgroup at the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. Peri’s role is to develop new methods of re-identifying vehicles. “My research focuses on applying computer vision and deep learning to traffic analytics in dense urban environments. Cities around the world are increasingly interested in modernizing their infrastructure and gathering insights from data streams from existing sensors. The goal of my research is to accurately identify a single vehicle identity across different cameras in varying orientations, lighting conditions, and weather.”

This is a very difficult problem since many vehicles have very similar attributes and datasets do not collect license plates since it is considered personally identifiable information (PII). Because of this, Peri’s research “focuses on finding discriminating attributes like bumper stickers, decals, and other small aberrations that can be used to uniquely identify a single vehicle regardless of its orientation.”

When asked how QUEST concepts tie in with his research, Peri told me that “a core competency taught through the QUEST program and required in research is the ability to communicate complex ideas in a way that is interesting and engaging.” Peri has to present his work frequently, and QUEST has “taught [him] how to effectively deliver [his] ideas in both written and visual formats.” Completing QUEST projects in multidisciplinary teams has taught Peri the importance of dividing responsibilities, having clear and concise communication, and keeping teammates accountable for their work. Peri believes having proper team dynamics is essential since “research, much like the QUEST, is built on a process that rewards clear, concise, and engaging discussion. Being a team player is integral to success in both QUEST and research. No one has all the answers.”

Being a computer engineer himself, Peri has experienced firsthand QUEST’s impact on engineers. He explained, “QUEST is uniquely positioned to give you experiences that you could never get through a traditional engineering curriculum. Engineers in QUEST have a competitive advantage both in the engineering school and the business school since they are both business-minded engineers and engineering-minded business students at the same time. QUEST engineers have a chance to reach across disciplines to bring new perspectives to every challenge. It’s important to lean into the strength and diversity of the QUEST experience.” On a final note, he shared, “I’ve become a more well-rounded student, made lasting friendships, and it has made my college experience more meaningful. How many other students can say that they worked with real clients on meaningful consulting projects as an undergraduate student? Applying to QUEST has been one of the best investments I’ve made in myself. Everyone can benefit from QUEST.”

Peri is just one of many students who believe that the impact of QUEST carries over into different areas of their lives they are passionate about. His passion for Computer Vision allowed him to immerse himself into his research and fully realize how he can utilize different concepts from QUEST into his work. Similarly, QUEST can help other students realize their passions and learn how to utilize important business and engineering concepts while pursuing them.

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