UC engineering student researching game controller behaviors

Brian Swanson is working toward his Ph.D. in electrical engineering

University of Cincinnati engineering student Brian Swanson wanted to stay close to home when he began pursuing his doctoral degree. With Bearcat alumni in his family and the university's renowned College of Engineering and Applied Science in mind, UC was the right choice. Swanson is a member of the Intelligent Sensing and Controls Laboratory, a teaching assistant within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and was recently named Graduate Student Engineer of the Month by the college. 

How did you end up choosing UC? What drew you here?

Brian Swanson

Brian Swanson wanted to continue the Bearcat tradition in his family, so he came to UC for his doctoral degree. Photo/Provided

The appeal of the University of Cincinnati was the opportunity to pursue my graduate studies in a highly regarded engineering program while being able to stay in Cincinnati.

I grew up in Kings Mills, a suburb of Cincinnati, so the area has always been home to me. I also have family ties to UC as my grandfather is a UC alumnus. The ability to continue the Bearcat tradition in my family and represent my hometown was the determining factor for attending UC. 

Why did you choose your field of study?

I chose to study electrical engineering because of its versatility. The discipline offers exposure to a wide range of topics within electrical engineering and allows you to focus on the one that interests you the most. I chose to pursue my Ph.D. because I ultimately want to teach at the collegiate level. I have always had a passion for teaching, and I greatly enjoy working with students. 

Describe your research work.

Since arriving at UC, I have been a member of the Intelligent Sensing and Controls Laboratory under the guidance of Dr. Zach Fuchs. My research is focused on using differential game theory and optimal control theory to develop feedback controllers for dynamic systems. Particularly, I am focused on solving for the unique behaviors of these controllers such as in instances where the controller has two equally advantageous strategies. 

Differential game theory and optimal control theory are powerful tools for creating feedback controllers for dynamic systems as they guarantee a certain level of controller performance. However, when applying these theories to realistic systems, the complexity of constructing a controller increases dramatically. 

My work focuses on developing techniques to determine unique controller behaviors for simple systems with the goal of using those techniques to determine unique behaviors in more complex systems. 

What are some of the most impactful experiences during your time at UC?

As a teaching assistant I have had the opportunity to work with so many awesome faculty, staff and students. Working with the students has enhanced my graduate studies because many of the courses I have taught are courses I took 5-10 years ago. I find myself continuously going back and studying the material to gain a deeper understanding of it

Being a TA has also allowed me to form peer relationships with many of the students. For instance, some of the students that I had as freshman when I first started my graduate career are now students in their senior year or taking graduate level courses. Other than making me feel old, it has been awesome to work with the same students and to see the progress they have made over the years.

Overall, being a TA has reinforced my passion for teaching at the collegiate level. 

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I am very honored to be named Graduate Student Engineer of the Month, and the award wouldn't have been possible without the kind words and support from Dr. Zach Fuchs, Dr. Marc Cahay, Dr. Wen-Ben Jone and my fellow students. I take great pride in the progress I have made with my research and the various publications and accolades my research has received including Outstanding MS Thesis. 

When do you expect to graduate? What are your plans after earning your degree?

I will defend my dissertation in the spring and plan to graduate in May. After graduation, I am considering an industry position where I can continue my research or pursue a faculty position. 

Interested in engineering graduate programs?

Learn more about a graduate degree in engineering at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. 

Featured Image at top: Person holding a video game controller. Photo/Pixabay. 

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