Abington student’s research selected for prestigious conference

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ABINGTON, Pa. — A project by a Penn State Abington student was selected for the prestigious Undergraduate Research at the Capitol conference in Harrisburg on April 7. This event allows students enrolled at Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities to showcase their talents to the Commonwealth’s key decision makers.

Poojith Kotikalapudi will present his work in one of eight slots allotted to Penn State. His project was chosen from among 26 nominations by the University’s Office of Undergraduate Education.

First-year student Kotikalapudi became involved in Abington’s flourishing undergraduate research program, ACURA (Abington College Undergraduate Research Activities), nearly as soon as he arrived on campus. 

“I went to the ACURA information session because I was interested in machine learning and working with a faculty member,” he said. “I wanted to see what I could do with the research.”

He initiated the project, “An Intelligent Automated Visual Inspection System,” with faculty mentor Vinayak Elangovan, assistant professor of computer science, in September 2019, by reviewing literature related to the topic.

“I looked at research papers to see what work was already done in the field. I wanted to see how I could build on top of what was already out there,” he said.

Quality inspection (QI) helps the manufacturing industry determine whether a product meets a required standard. The massive repetitive nature of QI causes a demand for process automation, explained Kotikalapudi. While QI of most manufacturing products has a clear standard, it is possible that robots can be trained to automate the process of detecting defects and classifying objects as accepted or rejected products.

In this project, the team programmed a robotic arm using Arduino to pick up and drop an object of interest from a conveyor belt. A camera source is used to capture images of the object. Image processing functions were developed to detect and classify the surface defects on the object. The developed system mimics the operations carried out in industry for automating a visual inspection system.

“It took quite a lot of time, trying various methods,” Kotikalapudi said. “Each challenge with this is different because it had a different goal.”

Although he is still early in his college career, the computer science major has set his goals high.

“I want to work with cutting edge technology and be on the forefront of what’s currently happening. Image processing, like the one in my project, is leading-edge technology, and I want to be near it,” said Kotikalapudi, who is taking 22 credits this semester.

About Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With about 3,700 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 21 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more.