By Sue DiBella, Division of Research and Economic Development
Yuehua Wang conducts innovative research on autonomous vehicles to help us move safely and efficiently through our world.
It all started when she struggled to ride a bicycle that was just a little too big for her. It was her parents’ bike, which, at 28 inches, was too tall and unwieldy for young Yuehua Wang. The process didn't go smoothly, as Dr. Wang recalls.
“I had countless falls, and there were many tears along the way,” said Wang. But the experience left her wishing for a different kind of bike ride: one with fewer skinned knees and more time gliding smoothly through the countryside.
Over the years, that formative childhood memory of her too-big bicycle has stayed with Wang, shaping her research interests even today.
“As I got older, my fascination with transportation grew,” she said. “My desire for faster, safer methods of travel led me to learn about autonomous driving, which I believe can revolutionize how people and their families move around.”
Wang now researches the real-world computing and system challenges of autonomous driving, including vehicular sensing and control, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and smart education. She is interested in locating critical hidden problems in self-driving cars and developing algorithms, proof-of-concept prototypes, and applications to address them.
She has received multiple grants for her research, including a recent $200,000 award from the National Science Foundation to assess and interpret driver behavior with the goal of building safer, more effective autonomous vehicle systems. She will also explore ways to protect the privacy of drivers who interact with and use autonomous vehicles.
Wang joined Texas A&M University-Commerce in 2016 as a junior faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems. She has since contributed to building and directing the campus's Cognitive Networked Sensing and Learning (CNSL) Lab. Wang earned tenure in 2022 and was promoted to associate professor this year, becoming the first female faculty member in her department to receive the distinction.
To date, Wang has led or co-led three other grant-funded projects, including a U.S. Department of Agriculture project to develop and produce educational safety materials for underrepresented beginning farmers, and a summer institute on cybersecurity for students. The latter project enabled her to work with eight undergraduate STEM majors in a collaborative environment to develop their knowledge, increase their hands-on technical skills, and research solutions to cybersecurity problems.
Wang understands the value of good research and aspires to engender a love for research in her students.
“Research is an essential approach for discovering new facts and insights and deepening our understanding of the world,” she said. “It often leads to developing new technologies, theories, solutions, and tools to address complex problems and make our lives more secure and convenient.”
In the future, Wang hopes to employ her expertise in computer science to expand her understanding of the hazards caused by driver distraction in autonomous automobiles and continue learning about information security issues related to autonomous vehicle driver privacy. She said her goal is to make daily commutes safer and more secure for everyone.
Sue DiBella is a communication consultant for the Division of Research and Economic Development at A&M-Commerce. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the School of Public Policy and Leadership at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.