Doctoral student lands sought-after NASA Fellowship

Sydney Taylor, an aerospace engineering postdoctoral student, recently secured a sought-after NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship to develop an adaptive, temperature-regulating coating for spacecraft. Photographer: Pete Zrioka/ASU
Sydney Taylor, an aerospace engineering postdoctoral student, recently secured a sought-after NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship to develop an adaptive, temperature-regulating coating for spacecraft. Photographer: Pete Zrioka/ASU

An aerospace engineering doctoral student is one step closer to realizing a lifelong dream after securing a competitive NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship.

“I have memories of going camping, looking up at the Milky Way and thinking, ‘it would be really cool to help send stuff out there someday,’” recalls Sydney Taylor.

Taylor’s winning proposal, “Temperature-modulated radiative coatings for dynamic thermal management of spacecraft” will explore methods to create an adaptive coating to regulate the temperatures of spacecraft.

“The optimal operating temperature of many spacecraft is between -30 and 40 degrees Celsius,” explains Taylor.

To shield a spacecraft’s sensitive equipment, such as batteries or transmitters, from the rigors of thermal cycling, Taylor plans to create a coating consisting of three layers, each with different properties. The top layer will consist of vanadium dioxide, the middle layer of silicon and the bottom of aluminum. When exposed to varying temperatures, the coating and its constituent layers will adopt different properties to help regulate the spacecraft’s temperature.

When temperatures are low, the top layer adopts insulating properties, and the silicon layer remains transparent in the infrared spectrum. The bottom aluminum layer is highly reflective, so the overall structure is very reflective in the infrared, meaning that very little heat will be emitted, explains Taylor.

Originally published: Doctoral student lands NASA Fellowship to develop temperature-regulating coating

Medical device prototype wins ASU students second place at Capstone Design Conference

The Mayo Clinic Tele Vision team's prototype of an imaging system for eye disease/injury triage. Image courtesy of the Mayo Clinic Tele Vision team
The Mayo Clinic Tele Vision team’s prototype of an imaging system for eye disease/injury triage. Image courtesy of the Mayo Clinic Tele Vision team

Three Fulton Schools students won second place in the 2016 Capstone Design Conference in Columbus, Ohio, this summer.

At the conference, recent graduates and current students working on multidisciplinary, international or entrepreneurial capstone projects presented their work in a poster session.

As part of their Professional Design Capstone II, the Mayo Clinic Tele Vision team — comprised of manufacturing engineering undergraduate student Hytham Almuallem, recent manufacturing engineering graduate Mobeen Ahmad and engineering and solar energy engineering and commercialization graduate student Jiawei Wu — developed a low-cost, smartphone-based telemedicine prototype for eye disease and injury triage as proposed by the Mayo Clinic.

To address the high costs of eye treatments and a shortage of specialist eye doctors, called ophthalmologists, the Mayo Clinic is looking to telemedicine for a solution. The ASU team’s prototype helps patients avoid waiting days or weeks for a diagnosis from specialists and avoids the need for bulky equipment that can cost $4,000–$15,000. Primary care physicians, nurse practitioners or even physician assistants can instead use a $500 device that attaches to a smartphone, captures an image of the eye and electronically transmits the image to an ophthalmologist for triage.

Originally published: Medical device prototype wins second place at Capstone Design Conference

ASU team wins first prize at Intel Cup in China

ASU robotics, Intel Cup
The ASU VIPLE and Minnowboard Robot Project team continued a string of excellent performances at the Intel Cup by ASU students by winning their second straight first prize award. Photo courtesy: Yinong Chen.


The ASU VIPLE and Minnowboard Robot Project team continued a string of excellent performances at the Intel Cup by ASU students. ASU won a second prize in 2012 and now has first prizes in each of the past two competitions in 2014 and 2016.

The team consisted of four Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering students who graduated in the spring and were advised by Yinong Chen, a senior lecturer in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering.

Sami Mian, a computer systems engineering major, was in charge of the hardware and designed the robots and all of the custom parts for the project. He was also an advisor on the 2012 team and helped with the hardware of that project. Gennaro De Luca, a computer science major, led the software team and developed the Visual IoT/Robotics Programming Language Environment software. John Robertson, an electrical engineering and computer science major, was in charge of the middleware that helped bring the other two teams together. Tara De Vries, a computer science major, worked in the software team. The members of the team are also members of the Sun Devil Robotics club that was founded by Mian and is advised by Chen.

The competition is held every two years and is jointly hosted by the Higher Education Department of the Ministry of Education and the Personnel Education Commission and Shanghai Jiaotong University and co-organized and sponsored by Intel.

There were 160 teams that participated in this year’s competition that was held over two rounds. Forty-eight  teams, including just eight from outside China, entered the final round held in Shanghai. A total of 13 first prize awards were given out, with ASU being the only team from outside of China to win one. Intel Cup rules dictate that teams in the top eight percent of competitors receive first prize honors. The competition aims to encourage improvement of the curriculum structure and content in the disciplines of information technology and electronics, promote implementation of well-rounded education within higher education institutions and to foster innovation skills among students.

They set out to create an alternate programming environment for the robotics concentration of CIDSE’s FSE 100 class. The team created a drag-and-drop visual programming language that they call VIPLE and also built a custom robot hardware kit for students to use. The robot is made of custom designed parts, Intel boards and middleware software they created themselves.

The project is an educational toolkit with multiple sub-parts, including  VIPLE and a curriculum based on the FSE 100 curriculum that used the no longer supported Microsoft VPL.

“Our goal with VIPLE is to provide a language we can use to teach introductory level students computational thinking such as providing a focus on algorithms or higher level programming concepts without having to focus on the detailed syntax,” De Luca says. “We also developed the middleware that a user could install on an Intel board and be able to easily communicate with VIPLE and program that robot.”

The robots used in the project are just a single example of what students may build in the course to use the software. The team designed a robot toolkit so that students could quickly get started building and programming a robot as well as completing several tasks/projects, including autonomous maze navigation. In this way, students can learn about hardware, wiring and programming before learning any programming languages or advanced hardware skills.

Originally published: ASU team wins first prize at Intel Cup in China

Amelia Earhart Fellowship will propel student’s aerospace materials research

Aerospace engineering doctoral student Nithya Subramanian (center), recently named an Amelia Earhart Fellow by Zonta International, has been studying multifunctional nanocomposites for aerospace applications in ASU Professor Aditi Chattopadhyay’s (left) lab for six semesters. Photographer: Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

Amelia Earhart found her passion for aviation while working as a nurse’s aid at Toronto’s Spadina Military Hospital. Nearly a century later, her influence and fame as a female pioneer in the aviation industry spans continents.

As a youngster in Trivandrum, India, Nithya Subramanian admired the record-setting aviator.

Subramanian, an aerospace engineering doctoral student at Arizona State University, developed her own love for aviation at eight years old when she was invited to sit in an airplane’s cockpit during a flight on SriLankan Airlines.

Earhart was a rarity in her time — most women hadn’t traveled on planes, let alone flown one. Society no longer has a shortage of women travelers, but according to the Women in Aerospace organization in 2010 women made up only about 10 percent of aerospace industry professionals.

The Amelia Earhart Fellowship, presented by Zonta International, a global organization for women professionals, aims to support and grow the number of women in the aerospace industry and other aerospace-related science and engineering fields.

Subramanian was one of 35 doctoral students named an Amelia Earhart Fellow for 2016-2017.

The recipients, chosen from a pool of 121 applicants, represent 19 countries and include students from universities such as Purdue University, Stanford University, MIT, Brown University and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. The fellowship comes with a $10,000 award.

Originally published: Amelia Earhart Fellowship will propel student’s aerospace materials research

Briana Del Bianco and EcoCAR3 team recognized at the Polys

Manny Padilla, Jessy Gonzalez, Briana Del Bianco and Kevin Riley were nominated and recognized for multiple awards.
Manny Padilla, Jessy Gonzalez, Briana Del Bianco and Kevin Riley were nominated and recognized for multiple awards.

Digital culture and technological entrepreneurship student and EcoCAR3 team Communication Manager Briana Del Bianco was awarded the Chuck and Judy Backus Outstanding Graduating Senior Award. This award recognizes graduating students who demonstrate exemplary leadership that improves campus life or inspires others to lead.

She was also nominated individual and with the entire EcoCAR3 team for the Community Impact awards. EcoCAR3 communication team members Jessy Gonzalez, Manny Padilla and Kevin Riley received recognition or were nominated for individual awards.

Originally published: EcoCAR3 team members recognized at Polytechnic awards ceremony

Christopher Balzer receives Goldwater Scholarship

Christopher Balzer

Raised by parents who were also engineers, Christopher Balzer grew up understanding how engineering can be a driving force for change. The chemical engineering student has his sights set on bringing about progressive change and, by all indications he’s well on his way.

Balzer, a native of Anthem, Arizona, was recently named a Goldwater Scholar, a prestigious scholarship that recognizes excellence in science, math and engineering.

More than a thousand students applied for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and fewer than a quarter of the applicants received the distinguished award. This year, three of the four Arizona students selected are Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering students.

Balzer says he was initially drawn to chemical engineering due to the field’s diversity, which makes him feel as though he can make a bigger impact in the world.

Originally published: Christopher Balzer secures Goldwater Scholarship, plans to make a difference with chemical engineering

Fulton Schools engineers take the stage at Clinton Global Initiative University conference

Ngoni Mugwisi presenting in front of fellow MasterCard Foundation Scholars at the Clinton Global Initiative University conference held at the University of California Berkeley. Photographer: Adam Schultz/CGI U
Ngoni Mugwisi presenting in front of fellow MasterCard Foundation Scholars at the Clinton Global Initiative University conference held at the University of California Berkeley. Photographer: Adam Schultz/CGI U

Seventeen students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering were selected to attend the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) on April 1-3 at the University of California Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area.

These Fulton Schools students make up the largest contingent from any college at Arizona State University, which had 32 students invited to attend in total. They joined more than 1,200 innovative student leaders from around the world, dozens of topic experts, Bill and Chelsea Clinton and other celebrities, such as Conan O’Brien, at the ninth annual CGI U event.

President Bill Clinton launched CGI U in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world.

Students are invited to attend through a competitive selection process. Students submit compelling solutions, called Commitments to Action, to today’s most pressing issues in one of five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.

At the event students develop action plans for their endeavors, network with entrepreneurs and industry leaders, and are mentored by others involved in humanitarian and social transformation efforts.

Read about the commitments, takeaways and highlights from a couple of Fulton Schools engineers.

Originally published: Engineers take the stage, glean inspiration at CGI U

Barrett Anderies secures Goldwater Scholarship

Barrett Anderies
Barrett Anderies

Barrett Anderies, a double major in biomedical engineering and mathematics, is one of three Fulton Schools students and one of 252 students selected from a field of 1,150 nominees to be awarded a Goldwater Scholarship – considered the premier undergraduate scholarship for mathematics, science and engineering majors.

The honors student originally chose to pursue a biomedical engineering degree due to his interests in robotic prosthetics. He recognized that it was a field that required both biological and engineering expertise.

“Over the course of my studies I became more interested in the biological side of the problem, which involves integrating devices with the nervous system,” Anderies says. “I started working in a neural engineering lab a couple years ago, and my experience there has reinforced my interest to pursue graduate studies in neuroscience. I hope to combine mathematical analysis, engineering tools, biological expertise and clinical experience to improve treatment of neurological disorders.”

Originally published: Goldwater Scholar Barrett Anderies plans to pursue neuroscience in graduate school

Kaleigh Johnson receives one of three ASU Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships

Johnson_Kaleigh_8304wIra A. Fulton Schools of Engineering chemical engineering student Kaleigh Johnson wants to use engineering to make the world a more sustainable place. Her extensive research efforts in her first three years at Arizona State University have earned her one of four Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships awarded to students in Arizona.

“As a first-generation college student, gaining national recognition for my accomplishments at ASU is an honor beyond what my family and I thought possible,” Johnson says.

As a student in Barrett, the Honors College at ASU she has no shortage of accomplishments to be proud of, and as a Goldwater Scholar her future just got brighter. The undergraduate award covers tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year to students pursuing a research career in engineering, science or math.

The choice of pursuing chemical engineering came easy to Johnson as it combined her favorite subjects of chemistry, math and physics in a versatile field that could take her anywhere.

She plans to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering before working in industry.

“I want to implement synthetic biology into the production of chemicals and fuels,” Johnson says. “I hope to make a significant impact in improving the sustainability of industrial manufacturing.”


Originally published: First-generation college student wins Goldwater Scholarship to further sustainable engineering research

Graduate student wins IBM Ph.D. Fellowship to continue work in robot-human collaboration

Computer science graduate student Tathagata Chakraborti and the Yochan lab robot Newman
Computer science graduate student Tathagata Chakraborti stands with Newman, an industrial robot in Professor Subbarao Kambhampati’s Yochan lab. Chakraborti’s research is focused on human-robot collaborative planning. Photographer: Pete Zrioka/ASU

As artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic systems become more prevalent, it’s increasingly important that they work well with others — especially humans.

Automated planning is a field of AI research that looks to generate a plan that takes into account a system’s environment and possible actions it can take to achieve a given goal. However, automated planning research thus far hasn’t addressed problems that may arise when humans and autonomous systems interact, which is essential when the goal of AI is to have intelligent machines work alongside people and not replace them.

Computer science graduate student Tathagata Chakraborti is working to address the challenges of human-AI collaborative planning, or “human-in-the-loop planning.” Working together requires AI systems to be able to model human intentions and plan their actions with those intentions in mind. So Chakraborti is studying how planners model collaborative behavior and the role of planners as decision support.

“I have investigated how autonomous agents sharing the human workspace can modify their behavior and respect human intentions,” Chakraborti says. “I have also looked at planning challenges in guiding human decision-making with limited domain knowledge, such as in crowdsourced planning and disaster response.”

An industrial robot the Yochan lab has named Kramer
Industrial robot Kramer is designed for use in places like an Amazon warehouse. Photographer: Pete Zrioka/ASU

Chakraborti works in Professor Subbarao Kambhampati’s Yochan Lab where he and other computer science students test their planning algorithms (“Yochan” is the Sanskrit word for “plan”) for human-robot collaboration with several robots: “Kramer,” a one-armed, mobile industrial robot; “Newman,” a two-armed industrial robot with a programmable display “face”; “Sprinkles,” a mobile robot designed up help with office tasks through speech recognition that can also recognize faces; and the “Clone Troopers,” a fleet of small humanoid robots used for various projects. The robots were procured with the help of Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grants from the Office of Naval Research and the Army Research Office.

An opportunity to continue his robotics research outside of ASU

His research efforts earned him an IBM Ph.D. Fellowship award — a competitive, worldwide program that honors exceptional doctoral students pursuing innovations in computing technology and striving to solve problems that align with IBM’s research goals.

Chakraborti’s research fits well with IBM’s cognitive computing and symbiotic computing research thrusts, and he’s looking forward to working with them.

“This is a great opportunity to work on my ideas with people who share the same vision of the future of AI — that AI and humans together can do better than the sum of individuals,” Chakraborti says.

Part of the Fellowship involves working with an IBM mentor. For Chakraborti this is Kartik Talamadupula, a research staff member at IBM who is also an alumnus of the Yochan Lab. Talamadupula’s research, conducted at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, investigates the role of automated planning in guiding dialogue between intelligent machines and end users.

Chakraborti and Talamadupula have similar research interests and they’ve worked together before on co-authored conference and workshop papers, but it’ll be Chakraborti’s first time working with Talamadupula and IBM directly on-site.

IBM also encourages its Ph.D. Fellows to participate in an internship, which Chakraborti plans to do starting in May at IBM’s Cognitive Algorithms Department, where he’ll join the AI and Optimization group and work on symbiotic human-AI systems.

The award includes a $20,000 stipend for the 2016-2017 academic year and a $10,000 education allowance. Chakraborti is looking forward to the financial stability the award funding will provide and to applying it to his research.

“It’s always great to have some extra funds — it lets you be more creative with your ideas and more ambitious in trying them out,” Chakraborti says.

Overall, he sees the award as honoring his past work and providing opportunities for his future.

“It’s a great honor to be considered for this prestigious award,” Chakraborti says. “The award is a recognition of the quality of work done here at ASU and the effort I have put in for the last two and a half years, and it’s a huge motivation to work even harder and continue innovating for the coming years.”

Originally published: Improving robot-human collaboration with the help of IBM