Undergraduate Research Experience Helps Launch Career of Recent Grad: Rutgers-Camden Campus News


Sydney truong

By Jeanne Léong

As an intern in a Rutgers University ‒ Camden A math lab, Sydney Truong became passionate about research while working on a federally funded study into ways autonomous vehicles can help improve traffic and reduce commute time, fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Since graduating in May 2020, his Rutgers-Camden experience has led to a research position at Lockheed Martin.

For a year, starting the summer after Truong’s freshman year, she worked with Benedetto Piccoli, the Joseph and Loretta Lopez Chair in Mathematics at Rutgers-Camden University, where he is also Vice-Chancellor for Research. Truong wrote simulation code for the collaborative project involving Piccoli and researchers from four other universities.

As every driver is confronted with traffic, people are constantly braking and accelerating, causing a chain reaction of vehicles to stop and go, causing what the researchers call a “stop and go wave.”

Researchers in the collaborative project are using Truong’s code to study traffic waves, with the goal of designing controls for autonomous vehicles capable of dissipating stop-and-go waves.

Using MATLAB software, Truong, a math major and a computer science minor, created graphics, video simulations, and animations for studying traffic.

In addition to honing his technical skills, Truong learned valuable lessons from working with fellow labs. “Prior to this experience, I was not someone who asked questions,” says Truong, a resident of Sicklerville. “I was always trying to find the answer on my own, but now I understand that it’s okay to ask questions about things you don’t understand. Everyone in the lab was very helpful in answering questions.

Benedetto Piccoli

Benedetto Piccoli

Researchers continue to use Truong’s code on the project. “One of the controls we designed using Sydney code still provides the best performance in the project,” says Piccoli.

When the study is completed and published, Truong will appear as one of its co-authors.

An added advantage of working in Piccoli’s laboratory was the opportunity to work on a project that corresponded to his interest in saving the planet.

“When traffic is cleared, fuel consumption and carbon emissions are reduced,” says Truong. “I like to be involved in something that would benefit the environment in the long run.”

Truong credits her choice of research career to Acting Chancellor of Piccoli and Rutgers-Camden, Margaret Marsh, who was a professor at Truong Specialized Seminary.

Truong mentioned to Marsh that she wasn’t sure what jobs she could do with a degree in applied mathematics and a minor in computer science, so Marsh introduced her to Piccoli, who offered Truong an internship in her. laboratory through a Rutgers Global grant.

“One of Rutgers’ missions is to lead more students into careers in STEM fields, where there is a high need for a skilled workforce now, and even more in the near future,” said Piccoli. “Sydney is a perfect example of the benefit of such an experience: she worked as a team on a high value project, achieving great results. This pushed her even further towards a career in STEM.

“I knew ahead of time that doing research was a possible career choice,” says Truong. “But I only realized after working with Dr Piccoli how vast the field of research is for someone who wants to do research as a career choice.”

Truong received the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award and the Mathematical Sciences Scholarship for his work on the study of Piccoli’s circulation.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy, the project is a collaboration between Rutgers-Camden and researchers at the University of Arizona, University of California at Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania , Temple University and Vanderbilt University.

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