USC Pinball Project

From May 2009 to June 2010, I worked on a research project at the University of Southern California looking at the uses of pinball machines as educational tools for software development and robotics. This project was under the direction of Professor Sven Koenig.

Starting in the summer of 2009, I began adapting the existing codebase of the project, which at that point was hard-coded to work only with the Stern Lord of the Rings pinball machine in the lab. My goal was to parametrize the components of the pinball machine so the platform could be used on a number of recent Stern pinball machines. This was completed by the end of 2009. At that point, we began to collaborate with another team at the University of Alberta interested in adapting pinball machines for artificial intelligence research. With them, we implemented new functionality and ensured that the pinball machine control mechanism worked across multiple platforms.

The culmination of this work was our publication of a research paper in the proceedings of the International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, of which I was a co-author. I also presented our findings for the research team at the conference in June 2010.