News & Events
Michael Gonzalez, advised by Joel Burdick, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, is one of four recipients of the 2022 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Michael is interested in the crossover between Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, focusing specifically on the widespread applications of robotics. This summer, Michael will be working as a SURF fellow under Professor Soon-Jo Chung with a focus on revamping the ARCG’s autonomous flying ambulance. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.
The winners of the 2022 New Horizons Award were announced at the end of this academic year. Haley Bauser was recognized for sustained dedication and commitment to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus, which inspired conversations and actions from members of EAS and the broader campus community. Adam Blank was recognized for efforts to advocate for and improve the student experience at Caltech, especially for students from backgrounds that have been historically marginalized in STEM. Heather Lukas was recognized for Founding Womxn in EAS and campus efforts in support of gender equity, and for sustained service to Caltech and the broader community. Emily Palmer was recognized for the development of a new seminar series and discussion group on History, Ethics and Identity in STEM and for demonstrating that the engineering curriculum can be expanded to include social, historic and political dimensions. Elizabeth Qian was recognized for a conscientious approach to teaching and mentoring, for cultivating positive camaraderie and awareness in her research group, and for contributions to the CMS department’s examination of its culture and policies.
To be truly useful, drones—that is, autonomous flying vehicles—will need to learn to navigate real-world weather and wind conditions. A team of engineers from Caltech has developed Neural-Fly, a deep-learning method that can help drones cope with new and unknown wind conditions in real time just by updating a few key parameters. [Caltech story]
Caused by collisions from asteroids, comets, and other astronomical objects, lunar craters give our moon its characteristic pockmarked façade. These craters hold the materials necessary for building sustained human settlements on the moon. Accessing the materials inside lunar craters is no easy task. NASA seeks new ways of getting around the moon that do not rely on wheels. The agency's Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge asks university teams to go beyond wheeled rovers and create new solutions to the problem of traversing lunar craters. A team of more than 30 Caltech undergraduates in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science is among seven 2022 BIG Idea finalists. [Caltech story]
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Undergraduate Maximilian Adang has been awarded the 2022 Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship. The highly selective program awards exceptional college juniors, seniors, and graduate students pursuing aerospace careers with paid internships at cutting-edge commercial space companies. [Class of 2022]
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced the undergraduate, team, and graduate winners of the 2022 International Student Conference. Luis Pabon Madrid, Polina Verkhovodova, Malcom Tisdale, Isabella Dula, Kaila Coimbra, Tanmay Gupta, Leah Soldner, Rithvik Musuku, and Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, received 1st place in the Team Category for "Design of a Modular and Orientable Electrodynamic Shield for Lunar Dust Mitigation." The International Student Conference is an invitation-only student conference where first-place winners from each of the previous year’s AIAA Regional Student Conferences present their winning papers. [AIAA story]
Researchers have built a bipedal robot that combines walking with flying to create a new type of locomotion, making it exceptionally nimble and capable of complex movements. "We drew inspiration from nature. Think about the way birds are able to flap and hop to navigate telephone lines," says Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist. "A complex yet intriguing behavior happens as birds move between walking and flying. We wanted to understand and learn from that." A paper titled "A bipedal walking robot that can fly, slackline, and skateboard" about the LEO robot was published online on October 6 and was featured on the October 2021 cover of Science Robotics. [Caltech story]
Without GPS, autonomous systems get lost easily. Now a new algorithm developed at Caltech allows autonomous systems to recognize where they are simply by looking at the terrain around them—and for the first time, the technology works regardless of seasonal changes to that terrain. The general process, known as visual terrain-relative navigation (VTRN), was first developed in the 1960s. By comparing nearby terrain to high-resolution satellite images, autonomous systems can locate themselves. The problem is that, in order for it to work, the current generation of VTRN requires that the terrain it is looking at closely matches the images in its database. To overcome this challenge, Anthony Fragoso, Lecturer in Aerospace; Staff Scientist, Connor Lee, Graduate student in Aerospace, Austin McCoy, Undergraduate, and Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems and research scientist at JPL, turned to deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to remove seasonal content that hinders current VTRN systems. [Caltech story]
Benjamin Rivière, Wolfgang Hönig, Yisong Yue, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, have received an honorable mention for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters Best Paper Award for their paper titled "GLAS: Global-to-Local Safe Autonomy Synthesis for Multi-Robot Motion Planning With End-to-End Learning."