Virginia Tech College of Engineering alumnus Peter Reutt was among the many engineers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Dec. 18 waiting for the return of the Exploration Flight Test-1 Orion spacecraft after a cross-country road trip from San Diego via tractor trailer.
Reutt also was part of the team to recover the vessel weeks before near San Diego, bringing the craft onto a ship after the capsule traveled 3,600 miles above the earth for a 5-hour unmanned mission.
“I am proud to have been part of the NASA team that recovered the Orion Crew Module,” said Reutt in a series of emails from Merritt Island, Florida, the home of Kennedy Space Center and the Dec. 5 launch of the EFT/Orion craft.
Alumnus Kevin Crofton recently donated $2 million to establish a faculty chair in the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering within Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Kevin for this extraordinary donation,” said Richard Benson, the College of Engineering dean. “For a graduate of this department to give back to it so generously speaks volumes about him as a person. We also view this donation as a powerful endorsement of the quality of our research and teaching. Gifts like this inspire us to do all we can to provide a superior environment for education and research, and they help us to reach that goal.”
Crofton is a native of Fincastle, Virginia, who earned his bachelor’s in aerospace and ocean engineering in 1982. He spent the first decade of his career in the aerospace field, working on U.S. Department of Defense and commercial programs in propulsion for United Technologies, including Boeing’s Inertial Upper Stage Program, which positioned satellites in geosynchronous orbit from the Space Shuttle.
Colin S. Adams is finishing his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, researching laboratory astrophysical plasmas at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, before joining Virginia Tech for spring semester of 2015. His research focuses on interactions between colliding supersonic plasma jets in the presence of a background magnetic field.
When Mark Palframan sets to work, he's at Virginia Tech's Kentland Research Farm. No dirt is involved, though. His hands are on a souped-up remote control device, and his eyes look to the air, set sharp on the unmanned E-SPAARO aircraft as it soars 400 hundred feet above the ground.
The Electric-SPAARO -- short for Small Platform for Autonomous Aerial Research Operations -- is a small unmanned aerial system operated by Virginia Tech's Nonlinear Systems Lab that can fly either autonomously or by remote control.
It is used for testing prototype wings and control surfaces, validating air-data sensors, and collecting and analyzing air samples. This is not a toy of play. Its mission, and that of the lab's, is not play, but forward-looking research.
The Hume Center is pleased to welcome Dr. Jonathan Black as its first Associate Director of Research for Aerospace Systems. In this role, he will oversee the center’s growing portfolio of research in unmanned aircraft and spacecraft, including the design and construction of a new ground station to facilitate small satellite missions.
A Virginia Tech College of Engineering student team is building a six-wheeled lunar robot and will travel to Houston’s Johnson Space Center in June as part of the 2014 RASC-AL Robo-Ops Challenge, sponsored by NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace.
The team is comprises of students from the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Virginia Tech one of only eight that will travel to the space center, taking with them a self-designed and built rover that will be tasked with collecting rock samples on a faux planetary service. Events at the June 3-5 event are judged for timeliness and task efficiency.
The team’s rover – nicknamed Animus, Latin for intellect -- features a suspension system similar in concept to the NASA rover currently exploring Mars, wheeled robot with a camera for viewing and a robotic arm with which to collect samples such as rocks. Known as rocker-bogie, the system uses six wheels with drive motors. The wheels keep the rover constantly in contact with the ground while traversing myriad terrains, said Animus leader Tom Corona of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and a senior in mechanical engineering.
Not many people get a chance to fly a drone, but it still didn’t seem like that big of a deal to the Virginia Tech students sitting behind the joystick during a test flight on Wednesday.
To them, it was just another day of research.
The university was named one of only six federally certified drone test sites by the Federal Aviation Administration in December. That means those who want to develop a new type of unmanned aerial system — known as UAS in the business but drones to everyone else — can bring it to Tech for experiments before it’s proven safe enough to fly over populated areas.
The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes William Devenport, a professor of aerospace and ocean engineering in the College of Engineering, for research interests that include finding new ways to harness wind energy.
Devenport, who serves as department head for laboratory facilities with the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, heads an active research program that involves doctoral, master’s and undergraduate students in experimental studies of the aeroacoustics and aerodynamics of turbulent flows.
Ongoing sponsored research projects include experimental studies of rough-wall boundary layer noise with relevance to airframe and marine vehicle noise, studies of trailing edge noise involved with wind turbines and airframes, studies of leading edge noise with relevance to helicopters and marine vehicles, and the dissipation of aircraft engine fan-blade wakes with applications to commercial jet engine noise
The Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech offers a unique blend of two disciplines that takes advantage of commonality in the analysis and design of aerospace and ocean vehicles. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in both disciplines. The Department has extensive facilities including world class wind-tunnels, water tunnels, structural test equipment, high-performance computer systems, and state-of-the-art spacecraft simulators.
Article obtained from http://www.research.vt.edu/scholar-of-the-week/william-devenport .
The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Craig Woolsey, an associate professor of aerospace and ocean engineering in the College of Engineering, for expertise in autonomous vehicles and for helping lead the university’s effort to obtain a Federal Aviation Administration-approved test site for unmanned aerial vehicles.
Woolsey is the director of the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems, which is a research arm for the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the College of Engineering.
His research in unmanned aerial vehicles and autonomous systems helped Virginia Tech win a Federal Aviation Administration bid to win one of only six unmanned aircraft systems research and test site operations in the United States.
Mazen Farhood, assistant professor in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, has been awarded a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for his research on “Provably Correct Control Software for Autonomous High-Performance Agents”.
The research objective of Farhood’s award is to investigate a rigorous approach to control software certification for multi-task agents with complex dynamics, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The proposed analysis approach will not only provide proofs that such control systems meet their functional specifications, but will also migrate the high-level, systemic properties down to the executable code, resulting in a formally validated control software.