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March 3, 2022 "Purposed-built Unmanned Systems"

  • 4:00 p.m.
  • 655 McBryde Hall - Faculty in-person.  Students zoom.
  • Dr. Peter Ifju, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Excellence Term Professor, University of Florida
  • Faculty Host:  Dr. Craig Woolsey

Abstract: Dr. Peter Ifju's seminar will present a variety of unmanned aircraft and watercraft that were develped in his lab at the University of Florida. He has worked on a variety of air vehicles ranging in size from micro air vehicles, through the modern electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOLs). By collaborating with colleagues in natural resources and geomatics his group assesses the scientific questions that need addressing and then purposebuilds vehicles to the specific requirements, rather than forcing an already built system to perform missions outside of their original intent. Many of the systems that were developed in his lab also operate in water to perform bathymetry and water sampling. Along with vehicle development, his lab performs both fluid-structure interaction modeling and experimental characterization in the wind tunnel, and in the field. His group was the first to incorporate digital image correlation in the wind tunnel environment to measure deformations for fluid-structure interaction model validation. His lab has gained notoriety by developing prototype vehicles for various companies including Altavian (founded by four of his graduate students) and Archer Aviation, named after his lab on Archer Road, in Gainesville, FL. Archer Aviation is a relatively new eVTOL startup, spawned out of Dr. Ifju’s lab and is now a major player in the industry, trading on the NYSE and landing over a billion dollars in pre-orders from United Airlines.

Bio: Dr. Peter Geza Ifju is the MAE Excellence Term Professor and Associate Chair for Faculty Affairs in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Florida. He received a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering Science (1992), a M.S. in Engineering Science and Mechanics (1989), and a B.S. in Civil Engineering (1986) all from Virginia Tech. He also performed a Post-Doc at NASA Langley Research Center (1992-1993) in the Mechanics of Materials Branch. His research activities include experimental stress analysis, optical methods for stress analysis (moiré interferometry, luminescent photoelastic coatings and digital image correlation), and composite materials stress analysis and fabrication. He has also gained notoriety in micro air vehicle (MAV) and small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) design, fabrication, system integration, applications, and experimental characterization. Dr Ifju has been recognize by the Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM) with numerous awards including the A. J. Durelli Award (outstanding young investigator), the C.E. Taylor Award (contributions to optical methods), the Zandman Award (photoelastic coating development), SEM Fellow, the Harding Award (paper of the year in Experimental Techniques, twice), Peterson Award (best applications paper in Experimental Mechanics), SEM President (2011-2012), and the Murray Lecture (the plenary talk for the annual conference) to be presented this summer. He has been recognized by AIAA for the Abe M. Zarem Award (Masters student advisor of the year), SAMPE Journal Paper of the Year, Albert Kobayashi Award by ICCES, Mandles Prize Advisor from the International Hydrofoil Society, and the NSF Career Award in its inaugural year. The University of Florida MAV Team, led by Dr. Ifju, won first place overall in the International MAV Competition in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. At the University of Florida he has been recognized as Teacher of the Year on the department level (twice) and college level. Last year he received the Faculty Excellence in Innovation Award at the college level.  He has numerous patents on micro air vehicles and experimental mechanics, has coauthored 2 books (one on experimental stress analysis and one on micro air vehicles), 14 book chapters, more than 105 journal papers, and more than 170 conference papers.