Meet Ben Purman, Lead Scientist
Ben Purman is a lead scientist in SoarTech’s Ann Arbor, Michigan office. With an early interest in engineering and building new things, he graduated from University of Michigan, earning both a BSE in electrical engineering and a an MSE in remote sensing.
“From my first interview, it was clear to me that people at SoarTech enjoy working on challenging robotic programs,” Purman explained. “There is a comfort level and interest in solving difficult problems that will have an impact on the state of the art.”
As a scientist, Purman enjoys brainstorming new research ideas and then refining those ideas into concepts that get implemented in new software and systems. “I’m
particularly drawn to computer vision and robotics problems,” Purman said. “I have been able to support development of virtual assistants and autonomy algorithms that control small UAS and autonomous ground vehicles. I was principle investigator for a project to develop airfield damage assessment algorithms from imagery and LIDAR data.”
During his time at SoarTech, Purman has found great satisfaction in leading the development of airfield damage assessment algorithms. “This project involved developing a system that could quickly process a lot of data to find damage and unexploded ordnance on a runway,” Purman explained. “As a research project, it helped to advance the state-of-the-art for searching really large areas for very small things with limited sensors, time, and computational hardware.”
Purman believes a human-centered AI solution is key to addressing tough military problems. “It’s always interesting to understand how subject matter experts think about a particular problem,” he said. “The focus of our effort is often software and algorithm development. However, understanding a particular domain and problem is critical to developing useful software and algorithms that solve problems. “
When Purman isn’t busy supporting our warfighers with his work at SoarTech, he spends most of his time “wrangling” his young kids and participating in occasional triathlons.