Research Highlight: Andrew Droubay

by arowsey on April 20, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak with Andrew Droubay concerning his research on using virtual reality training to help the National Forest Service fight fires. The research led to his winning of first prize for student research at the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges: Southeastern Regional Meeting for “Interactive Fire Spread Simulation”.

Can you describe what your research project is about?

My research involved creating a virtual reality simulation that would allow forest firefighters to train in a variety of environments. The main research challenge came from tying in scientific models to make the simulation as accurate as possible.

What made you decide to pursue your topic?

I started working on this topic in particular because I am very passionate about doing work for social good. My simulation is one step of a research process that we hope will save lives down the road. I am enthusiastic about anything that gives me the opportunity to use my abilities for real change.

Why did you decide to do research?

I decided to do research generally because I like to challenge myself. I could always get a job doing some simple programming, but I want to push myself. In addition, I think there is a lot of benefit to the research process, and I love putting out work that no one has done before.

What has been your favorite or most interesting part of your research project so far?

My favorite part of the research is when we were first able to bring real-world fire data into our simulation. It was a real confirmation that what we were doing was possible, and it was inspiring to see the fire move in the computer in real-time.

What would you say to current and incoming students interested in doing research?

I would highly recommend any new student to do research. The skills and confidence you develop while working on a large-scale project are invaluable and will be beneficial no matter your intended career path.

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