When Adrien Cristian ’25 proposed his independent research on soft robotics to the International Conference on Control, Mechatronics and Automation (ICCMA) held at the University of Luxembourg, he was prepared for rejection.
“These conferences are typically geared toward established researchers and college students, so I was not sure if I would be accepted,” he shared. “I contacted the organizers, wondering if I was eligible, and they got back to me saying that I should submit my paper for review. The paper was peer-reviewed and accepted for presentation.”
From November 9-12, Cristian joined scientists, scholars, engineers and students from around the world to present his research project titled, “Machine Learning Based Controller for Soft Robotic Arm in Simulation.”
He explains, “The project was simulating a soft robotic arm for which I had to find a method to move it to a desired location with accuracy. The approach that I explored was to instead use neural networks to be able to calculate what forces are necessary to move the robot to the desired target position. The conclusion of this research is that this is a viable method to control the robotic arm — the next step would be to test this on a real robotic arm made of soft materials.”
The conference was not Cristian’s first experience with exploring the STEM fields internationally. During the summer prior, he completed a remote research program titled, “Bio-inspired Robotics: Machine Learning, Design and Control,” which took place at the University of Cambridge in England. Cristian’s research during the program was supported by a STEM scholarship, and the project he completed during his time there was what he presented at the ICCMA.
His interest in robotics, however, has been nurtured for years by the world-class faculty and facilities at Princeton Day School. He says, “My passion for STEM has been cultivated at PDS. This project gave me the opportunity to utilize the math, physics and computer science knowledge that I’ve accumulated. I’m very grateful.”
The support and encouragement that Cristian has received from PDS to explore opportunities in the STEM fields has proven to be a valuable asset in his life.
He says, “I would love to continue to attend more conferences and publish my work. I was excited and honored to be selected to present at the international conference and to participate as a high school student alongside established researchers in the field. It was a truly great learning experience for me.”