Kennesaw State graduate builds award-winning disinfection robot

Charles Koduru

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jun 5, 2024

Charles Koduru recalls his aunt and older sister working in hospital settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Koduru, already interested in engineering, wanted to design a robot to make their jobs easier. He asked what tasks they would have that robot perform.

“They brought up how common it is for people to contract diseases, such as staph, in the waiting rooms of hospitals and doctor’s offices,” Koduru said. “So, I started to look into research that had previously been done to help with this issue and then tried to make it better.”

So, Koduru sought out to build a robot that could not only move dynamically through an environment, but also disinfect areas as it goes using ultraviolet-c (UVC) light. UVC light allows surfaces to be disinfected in microseconds by restructuring the DNA of different bacteria so that they are unable to reproduce.

Koduru recently used that project to win the Council on Undergraduate Research’s engineering division video contest.

Koduru, who graduated from Kennesaw State University in May with a degree in mechatronics engineering, worked with his younger sister, Chelsea Koduru, on the project, ‘Enhancing Pathogen Eradication: An Autonomous UVC Robot System with Advanced Navigation and Intelligent Disinfection Techniques.’

“It was a lot of fun,” Charles Koduru said. “I think we both learned something from each other, and it was cool to see how each of us tackled different problems. With her being a biology student, she worked with the petri dishes and bacteria, whereas the robotics part of the project fell on my shoulders. Our skills complemented each other’s strengths.”

Charles’ mentor for the project is Dr. Muhammad Hassan Tanveer, assistant professor of mechatronics engineering, who Charles said has been his research advisor since the start of his freshman year, when he was accepted to the Office of Undergraduate Research’s First-Year Scholars Program.

“Ever since my time in the First-Year Scholars Program, I have made sure to participate in research every semester, whether I have received funding or credit or not,” he said. “I also tried to work as much with Dr. Tanveer as much as possible; he really opened the door for me, and I’m very grateful.”

During his time at KSU, Koduru served as a prolific student researcher, helping publish 18 research papers and assisting his team in winning the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (SPCEET) senior design expo this year. Koduru also expressed his delight that he was able to mentor eight freshmen in the First-Year Scholars Program, adding that it is one of his most treasured accomplishments.

“The proudest moment of my entire four years at KSU was being able to mentor students and help them using what I have learned,” Koduru said. “I have been able to explain any hardships I’ve faced to hopefully make it where they do not have to go through any of them.”

— Story by Alyssa Ozment