👋🤓 Hi, I am Xuechao Zhang (pronounced like “Sue-chow Jang”).

I am writing this page to express my motivation for pursuing a PhD. And I also hope to provide a more comprehensive introduction of myself to facilitate the mutual selection between potential supervisors and myself.

  • Q: Why PhD?

    • The research training and rigorous thinking exercises during my master’s degree have benefited me greatly in life. Pursuing a PhD would enable me to collaborate with brilliant minds and learn from them.
    • My internship experience in the industry made me realize that the PhD experience is unique and can provide more opportunities for future career development.
    • Most importantly, I believe that exploring the unknown frontiers of human knowledge can bring me great spiritual satisfaction, which is the ultimate goal of my life. I believe that the PhD experience will bring me closer to achieving my life goals.
  • Q: Research Interest?

    • One-word answer: ROBOTS!
    • Ever since high school, I have participated in various robot projects and enjoyed building robots to solve real-world problems. I am determined to conduct research in the field of robotics and ultimately make a contribution to the robotics industry.
    • While robotics has seen direct benefits from large models and emergent capabilities inherited from web-scale vision-language pretraining, there remain many problems that cannot be solved solely through “internet data”, such as understanding the dynamics of the world and embodying the robot ability to manipulate objects.
    • For my specific research direction, I have been constantly searching for the intersection between “what I am passionate about” and “what I am skilled at”.
    • Presently, my research interests are focused on active perception, which involves utilizing the robot’s ability to interact with and understand complex environments. For example, dynamically planning observation poses in unknown environments, or modeling deformable objects through manipulation.
      Keywords: active perception, affordance, neural representation, manipulation
  • Q: Skills and Expertise?

    • I am proficient in coding and have developed good coding habits over time.
    • I am familiar with common libraries in robotics and AI such as PyTorch, ROS and Pybullet, as well as EDA tools like Altium Designer, AutoCAD, and Solidworks.
    • I have gained extensive experience in debugging robot hardware and software through numerous “dirty works”. (To debug efficiently is, in my opinion, a skill that is often overlooked but is essential for a researcher.)
    • By gathering the right tools and reviewing regularly, I know how to make things done more efficiently (whether individual or team-oriented). And I am able to quickly grasp new concepts (now boosted by the power of LLMs).
  • Q: Work Habits?

    • Taking notes is an essential part of my learning process, as I believe it is an effective way to understand and build my own knowledge system.
    • I used to maintain very detailed work logs to help me track issues and reflect on my progress whenever I want.
    • Occasionally, I also explore state-of-the-art open-source works in other areas to broaden my knowledge and skills.
    • I also like to maintain regular communication with mentors and senior colleagues, and hope to receive their ideas and advice.
  • Q: Lifestyle?
    I am passionate about life and enjoy trying out new things. I maintain a regular exercise routine, which includes cycling, swimming and badminton. Additionally, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to experience life in different parts of the world, which is one of the reasons I am pursuing a PhD program abroad.

Thank you for taking an interest in me, and thank you for reading this far. This page is inspired by Answers to the Ph.D. Advisor guide, and I hope it can serve as a version from the perspective of a PhD candidate.