Computer Science Undergraduate Student Named 2018 Goldwater Scholar

Robert Ross, computer science major, named 2018 Goldwater Scholar

Drexel College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) junior-year computer science student Robert Ross has been named a 2018 Goldwater Scholar, one of the most prestigious awards for undergraduates in STEM in the nation.

Ross was selected from a highly-competitive pool of natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering students nominated by Goldwater campus representatives from among 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide. Of the 211 scholarships awarded for the 2018-19 academic year, only 29 scholars are mathematics and computer science majors.

Ross' dedication, and his particular interest and skill in algorithms and automation, has earned him an impressive amount of research experience as an undergraduate student.

During the CS freshman design sequence, he led a team of six students that designed and built an airborne, semi-autonomous system capable of detecting windows in a building's façade (a first step towards automated window washing). 

As a STAR scholar, guided by Ryan Kaliszewski (then a member of Drexel's math department), Ross developed and coded an algorithm for obtaining the chromatic symmetric function of certain graphs. 

During his second and third years, through an independent study and a co-op, Ross researched with the Drexel Wireless Systems Lab's Bellyband project under the direction of Bill Mongan (CS Lead Researcher) and Kapil Dandekar (PI). The project aims to develop a wireless, powerless alternative to the wired respiration sensors using RFID, smart garments, and signal processing. Ross developed a novel algorithm for detecting respiration rate from Bellyband's signal. The adaptive algorithm reduced the respiration rate detection error by 90%. The system will enter clinical trials this month. 

"Drexel’s structure has given me ample opportunities for research engagement. Through all of my research experiences, I was supported by the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Drexel Wireless Systems Lab. These were huge helps as I attempted to demonstrate my potential as a researcher to the Goldwater Committee," Ross said. 

After graduating, Ross intends to pursue a PhD focused on algorithms and automation. "Automation is going to shape the experience and well-being of humanity over the next 50 years more than any other field. I believe that I have a skill set which will enable me to contribute those fields, and I want to do just that. Receiving this award affirms the choice that I made and encourages me as I ponder my next steps," Ross explained. 

Goldwater scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Goldwater Scholars have impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 91 Rhodes Scholarships, 131 Marshall Awards, 150 Churchill Scholarships, 100 Hertz Fellowships and numerous other distinguished awards, such as National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

For more information about applying for Goldwater Scholarship at Drexel, please visit

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