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Ingenuity Prize Goes to VisionAIre Project

Casey Raiford, a talented student from the University of Advancing Technology (UAT), has been awarded the prestigious Ingenuity Prize at the Student Innovation Project (SIP) Presentation for his groundbreaking project, VisionAIre. Raiford, who holds dual majors in Robotics and Embedded Systems, and Digital Maker and Fabrication, is set to graduate in Spring 2024. His project showcases his exceptional skills in integrating artificial intelligence and robotics.

Originally from Alabama, Raiford’s journey to this achievement has been remarkable. After high school, he joined the US Navy, serving for nearly 24 years and traveling extensively. Currently residing in Maryland with his supportive wife Keli, Raiford is poised to embark on a new chapter in New Hampshire, where he aims to leverage his UAT degrees and systems engineering experience to enter the robotics industry in the New England tech market. His dream job is to work in autonomous robotics at the intersection of AI and mobility, and he plans to engage with a local maker space in his spare time.

Winning the Ingenuity Prize is a humbling experience for Raiford. He expressed his gratitude and surprise at receiving the award, acknowledging the talent and intelligence of his peers at UAT. "Receiving this kind of recognition, especially from among the incredibly smart and talented student body of UAT, is extremely humbling," he remarked.

Raiford’s decision to attend UAT was driven by his passion for 3D printing and a career in additive manufacturing and digital design. He was impressed by UAT’s renowned programs and the overlap between the Digital Maker and Fabrication and Robotics and Embedded Systems degrees. His journey at UAT has been marked by memorable moments and influential mentors. He recalls the challenging yet rewarding experience of his Student Innovation Project, where he realized he had taken on a significant challenge but successfully pulled it off.

The support and inspiration from UAT faculty played a crucial role in Raiford’s success. He credits several individuals for their impact on his journey, including Heather Peters, Matt Prater, Ashley Fuentes, George Muhn, Jacob Perrine, and Drew Foster. Each of these educators contributed uniquely to his educational experience, making his time at UAT positive and inspiring.

Raiford’s SIP project, VisionAIre, is an automated system that uses embedded AI/ML to identify and sort objects through robotic actuation. He designed and printed the housing himself, creating a functional and innovative product. Raiford plans to continue developing VisionAIre, aiming to refine and mature the project before releasing it under an open-source license. He envisions building a community around the project that can further enhance and improve it.

The SIP process was not without its challenges for Raiford. Implementing AI was particularly difficult, especially when the software he intended to use was discontinued just as he was getting started. However, with persistence and the guidance of Professor Prater, who was working on a similar project, Raiford overcame these obstacles.

The most rewarding part of the SIP process for Raiford was seeing his project come to life. "When all of the design, printing, programming, and mechatronics was finally in one place and it came to life, I was amazed," he shared.

Casey Raiford’s journey at UAT and his achievement with VisionAIre exemplify the spirit of innovation and dedication. As he prepares to graduate and enter the robotics industry, his contributions and future endeavors are anticipated to make significant impacts in the field.

Learn more about how Student Innovation Projects contribute to career readiness, here

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