Parallel Lives

A computer science major conducts research with real-world applications in everything from weather forecasting to self-driving cars.

Michael Livesey is studying and researching computer science at Elmhurst College.Michael Livesey ’20 has worked as a mechanic, an emergency medical technician and a bartender. Now, he’s doing high-level research in computer science at Elmhurst University.

Livesey took a somewhat unconventional path to a bachelor’s degree. He started college right after high school along with many of his peers, but after just two years he took a break to work as an emergency medical technician.

“I was planning to go into medicine, but I thought I should explore the medical field before making a huge commitment to eight years of school,” he says. “Working on an ambulance for a while seemed like a good way to do that.”

Livesey says he enjoyed interacting with patients as an EMT, but ultimately realized that medicine was not for him. He’s always been fascinated by computers, so he enrolled in the computer science program at the College of DuPage, then transferred to Elmhurst last year.

Now, thanks in part to a grant from the University’s Creative and Scholarly Endeavors (CASE) program, Livesey is spending the summer conducting research in parallel processing, a subfield of computer science that has applications in everything from chemistry to weather forecasting to self-driving cars.

“Parallel processing can make computer programs run faster,” he says. “The goal of my research is to use these techniques to speed up a computer vision program and make it more practical for real-world applications like autonomous robots.”

Under the guidance of Professor John Jeffrey, Livesey is learning programming languages, writing code and adapting a program that another Elmhurst University student worked on last year. At the end of the summer, he’ll present his work at a research showcase on campus.

Livesey, whose ultimate career goal is to do research in artificial intelligence, has a long and varied work history, including stints in a restaurant, as an auto mechanic and as a freelance bartender.

“Having experience in many different fields helps me to keep a broad outlook on things,” he says. “I also find after all of these experiences that I am quite confident in my career goals for the future.”

Livesey says he’s grateful to have the opportunity to do original research while he’s still in college.

“This is not something you would normally delve into as an undergraduate,” he notes. “It’s great preparation for graduate school, and I’m excited to learn something new.”

Learn more about research opportunities at Elmhurst

Posted Aug. 2, 2019

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