Engineering undergraduate wins prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Aviv Elor
Aviv Elor
Tuesday, April 10, 2018 (Tim Stephens)

Aviv Elor, a junior studying robotics engineering in the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, has been named a 2017 Goldwater Scholar by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

The Goldwater Scholarship is a prestigious national competition for undergraduates in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. The scholarships provide up to $7,500 per year for sophomores and juniors from across the country to cover the costs of tuition, fees, books, and other expenses.

The foundation awarded 211 scholarships this year, selecting the scholars on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,280 students nominated by representatives of colleges and universities nationwide.

Elor has been working on a research project to develop virtual reality applications to help patients in physical rehabilitation from stroke. His advisers are Mircea Teodorescu, associate professor of computer engineering, and Sri Kurniawan, professor of computational media.

Elor’s first research experience was with Teodorescu, working on an autonomous drone project. In 2016, however, he suffered an elbow injury in a national judo competition, which required reconstructive surgery and extensive physical rehabilitation. When he learned that Teodorescu and Kurniawan were working on a project to improve the rehabilitation experience, he was eager to contribute. Elor developed a virtual reality game called Project Star Catcher, in which players perform rehabilitative arm motions by catching falling stars in a fun virtual environment. The project has involved teaming up with physical therapists, stroke survivors, and their caregivers at Cabrillo College’s Stroke and Disability Learning Center.

Elor has presented his research at an international conference and submitted it for publication in peer-reviewed journals. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computer engineering at UC Santa Cruz.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater. The scholarship program was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.