Aerospace students win at regional AIAA Conference

AIAA ConferenceThree students from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University presented and won awards at the AIAA Region IV Student Conference. There were 20 presentations in various categories.

David Coleman won first place in the graduate category for his paper and presentation, “On the Development of a Robotic Hummingbird.” Coleman works under the guidance of Assistant Professor Dr. Moble Benedict on developing a biologically inspired hummingbird capable of controlled, hovering flight. Coleman will receive a $500 cash prize. Benedict, who joined the aerospace faculty last August, works on next-generation hover-capable UAVs, and heads the recently founded Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory in the aerospace department.

video showing Coleman's robotic hummingbird in flight can be found here.

Alejandro Azocar won first place in the undergraduate category. Azocar will receive a $500 cash prize. Azocar's presentation was on “Preliminary Evaluation of an Electromyographically Controlled Quadrotor (Undergraduate Technical Category).” The OpenBCI system was used to record electromyographic (EMG) signals — electrical activity produced by muscles — in order to control the thrust of a high fidelity quadrotor simulation. Although the quadrotor simulation was controlled using individual eye winks, the ultimate goal of this project is to use electroencephalography (EEG) to control and fly a real quadrotor using only one's thoughts.

Mauricio Coen won first place in the community outreach category and second place in the undergraduate category. He will receive a $200 cash prize for the outreach category and a $300 prize for the undergraduate category. Coen’s presentations were on "Recovery of an Uncontrolled, Asymmetric Spacecraft with Limited Control," (undergraduate technical) and "Bringing Zero Robotics to Texas," (community outreach)

Coen's presentation in the undergraduate technical category was inspired by the recent movie Interstellar, and a novel failure scenario is examined using accurate dynamics and control systems. This gives insight into future space vehicle contingency operations and ways to design them with failure mitigation in mind.

Coen's community outreach presentation focused on a Zero Robotics Middle School Competition that was brought for the first time to Texas in the summer of 2014 with the help of ASTRO Center, the aerospace department and Engineering Academic and Student Affairs. The presentation highlights this effort, the mentoring experience provided by undergraduate students at Texas A&M, and benefits of the competition to middle schools around Texas.  

The three students will travel to the 2016 AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition (SciTech) in San Diego courtesy of AIAA due to their achievements in the student conference. They will present their papers at the International Student Conference.