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"Neural Lander" Uses AI to Land Drones Smoothly

05-23-19

Professors Chung, Anandkumar, and Yue have teamed up to develop a system that uses a deep neural network to help autonomous drones "learn" how to land more safely and quickly, while gobbling up less power. The system they have created, dubbed the "Neural Lander," is a learning-based controller that tracks the position and speed of the drone, and modifies its landing trajectory and rotor speed accordingly to achieve the smoothest possible landing. The new system could prove crucial to projects currently under development at CAST, including an autonomous medical transport that could land in difficult-to-reach locations (such as a gridlocked traffic). "The importance of being able to land swiftly and smoothly when transporting an injured individual cannot be overstated," says Professor Gharib who is the director of CAST; and one of the lead researchers of the air ambulance project. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights Morteza Gharib Yisong Yue Soon-Jo Chung Animashree Anandkumar

Students Chart a Course to Enceladus

04-25-19

Where there is water, there may be life, which is why students participating in the 2019 Caltech Space Challenge were tasked with finding a way to probe Saturn's moon Enceladus. In March 2019, 32 graduate and undergraduate students from around the world met at Caltech, divided into two teams, and designed their best proposals to meet this year’s challenge, with a theoretical budget of $1 billion. "It was important to dream big for this project, but equally important to be practical," explained Caltech aerospace graduate student Fabien Royer who co-organized the event with graduate student Simon Toedtli. [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT Space Challenge Fabien Royer Simon Toedtli

Undergraduate Student Wins Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship

02-20-19

Junior undergraduate student Lewis Jones, studying mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering, has been awarded a Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship. The fellowship recognizes exceptional college juniors, seniors, and graduate students pursuing aerospace careers and includes a paid internship at a commercial space company based in the United States. Lewis will be interning at Millennium Space Systems. At Caltech Lewis founded and is the current president of the rocketry club (Parsec) which is developing a methane-oxygen rocket. [2019 class of fellows]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Lewis Jones

Professor Pellegrino Named Distinguished Visiting Professor At University of Colorado Boulder

02-06-19

Sergio Pellegrino, Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aerospace and Civil Engineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist; Co-Director, Space-Based Solar Power Project, has been named the inaugural Michael M. Byram Distinguished Visiting Professor at University of Colorado (CU) Boulder’s Ann and H.J. Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department. The professorship brings internationally-renowned external researchers for one or two semesters each year to CU to teach classes, host seminars, and collaborate with the faculty, further amplifying the research impact of the department. [CU Researchpalooza]

Tags: honors GALCIT Sergio Pellegrino

Community College Students Thrive at Caltech

01-02-19

This summer, Maria Hernandez—a student at Santa Monica Community College—lived in Caltech student housing and spent her days in Professor Beverley McKeon's lab, building an autonomous submersible robot from scratch. This was the second summer in a row that Hernandez participated in a program through the nonprofit organization Base 11, which connects high-achieving, underrepresented students from community colleges throughout the country with top research institutions like Caltech. "This program gave me the inspiration to become an engineer," says Hernandez, now in her fourth year of college. "Throughout high school, I was always good at math, but I never really knew what engineering was. The closest thing to an engineer in the community I grew up in was a mechanic." [Caltech story] [ENGenious snap shot]

Tags: GALCIT Beverley McKeon teaching Maria Hernandez

Aerospace Students Receive Innovation Award At LA Autoshow

12-12-18

GALCIT graduate students Marcel Veismann, Chris Dougherty, and Xichen Shi received a KPMG innovation award for their work on the Center on Autonomous Systems and Technology (CAST) robotic flying ambulance. The students were recognized for “achieving the highest level of excellence in research and innovation” and had the opportunity to presented to an audience of 300 executives at the LA Auto Show.

Tags: honors GALCIT Marcel Veismann Chris Dougherty Xichen Shi

Professor Ortiz Honored by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

12-11-18

Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has received a Doctorate Honoris Causa (honorary doctorate) from his alma mater, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. [ENGenious article featuring Professor Ortiz’s solid mechanics research]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Michael Ortiz

Caltech President’s 2018 End of Year Message

12-11-18

President Thomas F. Rosenbaum’s end of the year message to the Caltech community highlights the InSight spacecraft landing and the celebration of Frances Arnold’s 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He states, “these recent events … underscore the extraordinary technological acumen that is necessary to realize the implications of big ideas. The Institute is known throughout the world for its mastery of fundamental science, but it is the connection of these fundamental precepts to engineering innovation that sets Caltech apart.” [Read the full message]

Tags: Thomas Rosenbaum

Two International Aerospace Leaders Receive von Kármán Wings Award

11-19-18

This year's International von Kármán Wings Award honorees were Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of the French Centre National d'Études Spatiales and A. S. Kiran Kumar, Vikram Sarabhai Professor and former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization and former secretary of the Indian Department of Space. The ceremony also featured the presentation of two scholarships to honor top graduate students in aerospace. "This event is absolutely unique," said Professor Ares Rosakis and chairman of the the Aerospace Historical Society. "What makes it so is that it reflects the phenomenal international connections between Caltech, GALCIT, JPL, and NASA and it also highlights the true international nature of aerospace. More importantly, it gives us the opportunity to take a glimpse at the future by also honoring our own students who will one day define the future of space science and the future of space technology." [Caltech story] [Student scholarship winners] [Program for 2018 award ceremony]

Tags: honors GALCIT Ares Rosakis Jean-Yves Le Gall A. S. Kiran Kumar

President Rosenbaum Highlights Postdocs as "Unsung Heroes"

09-24-18

In a letter to the Caltech community during National Postdoc Appreciation Week, the Caltech President emphasizes the role this key group plays at the Institute. He stated, “Caltech's mission of world-leading research and education depends crucially on our postdoctoral scholars. Although their time at Caltech may be short, they quickly become vital parts of the Institute's intellectual fabric.” [President’s Letter] [EAS Postdoc Resource Page]

Tags: APhMS EE GALCIT MedE MCE CMS ESE Thomas Rosenbaum postdocs