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Samantha Lafrance believes in the power of perseverance and impact

Story by
Trisha Radulovich

Graduate student spotlight

samantha lefrance studies artificial intelligence as an engineering graduate student researcher
ASTERIX graduate researcher and electrical engineering master’s student Samantha Lafrance studies artificial intelligence and IoT (Photo: FAMU-FSU Engineering/T Radulovich)

Samantha Lafrance is a graduate researcher in the Advanced Sensors Technologies for Applications in Electrical Engineering Research and Innovation Excellence Consortium (ASTERIX). She is a first-year electrical engineering graduate student at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. The Miami native is enrolled through Florida A&M University. 

What area of engineering are you studying?

My interests include designing, testing and prototyping the robust internet of things (IoT) technology systems using data analytics and edge computing. (We will get to what this actually means a little later!)

What’s been your experience in the ASTERIX program?

I began in the ASTERIX program in Spring 2021, and it was my first time as a graduate researcher. I am currently working on an Intel-based project called Artificial Intelligence on Edge Compute Devices. The goal is to deploy computer vision and deep learning applications without the need for cloud computing. My primary focus for achieving that goal is using object detection.

What’s it like being a graduate researcher? 

So far, it feels the same as being an undergraduate— for the most part, it’s what I expected. I know that to succeed, there’s a few things I need: the ability to use logic, be able to analyze information to solve hands-on problems and overcome obstacles. Coming across roadblocks should be highly anticipated. Part of my role as an engineer is to search for solutions to solve problems. So, I’m comfortable with doing research and look forward to pursuing more of it.

What sorts of work do you do in the lab?

I get the opportunity to be a project mentor and expand my technical skillset. As a mentor, I enjoy being able to have a positive, motivating influence on someone and help them become the best version of themselves. For my current AI on the Edge project, I analyze model performance, deploy pre-trained networks, custom networks, and an object detection model on the Intel Neural Compute Stick 2 and a Raspberry Pi board.

What are your long-term goals?

My long-term goal is to earn my master’s degree. I hope to have a career where I can apply my skills and receive additional experience in artificial intelligence.

Who inspires you?

Impact inspires me. I love the way Dr. Shonda Bernadin builds a pipeline for diverse students with opportunities and connections, and I aspire to do the same. I hope to expand mentorship and volunteer youth work or activities. I have a passion for learning and exploring new things. I came across a quote once that said, “School may stop, but the learning doesn’t.”

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