Engineering News

SEC's Auburn University Faculty Achievement Award presented to chemical engineering professor

8/18/2017 2:45:35 PM      

Auburn University and the Southeastern Conference have announced that Professor Bruce Tatarchuk of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has been honored with the SEC's Auburn University Faculty Achievement Award for 2015.

Tatarchuk, chemical engineering professor and director of Auburn's Microfibrous Materials Manufacturing Center, will receive a $5,000 honorarium, and he becomes Auburn's nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year, who will be selected from 14 nominees representing SEC universities.

"Dr. Tatarchuk has an outstanding record of accomplishment and he has greatly enhanced the prestige of Auburn University," said Jay Gogue, president of Auburn University and past president of the Southeastern Conference. "This award is a testament to his dedication to his profession, students and colleagues."

The SEC Faculty Achievement Awards, created to recognize faculty accomplishments, scholarly contributions and discoveries, were established by the SEC presidents and chancellors and are administered by the SEC provosts. The awards were first presented in 2012.

"Dr. Tatarchuk epitomizes the character of a university professor who has excelled inside and outside the classroom," said Timothy Boosinger, Auburn University provost and vice president for academic affairs. "His accomplishments include being recently appointed the Charles E. Gavin III Endowed Chair in the College of Engineering and also named as a 2014 Fellow to the National Academy of Inventors in recognition of exceptional accomplishments in innovation and invention to benefit society."

Each recipient of the SEC Faculty Achievement Award must be a full professor at an SEC university, have a performance history of extraordinary teaching and a record of scholarship that is recognized nationally or internationally.

"I am humbled to receive this tremendous honor from Auburn University and the SEC," Tatarchuk said. "I would like to thank the university and my fantastic colleagues in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and all across campus for providing such an excellent environment for faculty, student and stakeholder success."

Tatarchuk's discoveries have resulted in 12 U.S. patents and a large number of foreign patents. His work focuses on chemical interactions occurring at solid surfaces and he has pioneered the design and development of microfibrous entrapped sorbents, catalysts and electrocatalysts which facilitate extremely high levels of chemical reactivity. This work has led to the commercialization of numerous products, including double layer capacitors, advanced batteries, polishing sorbents, heterogeneous catalysts, filters and thermal and electrical conduction aids. These products impact hundreds of millions of users each year. He is a 2001 co-founder of IntraMicron Inc., a Delaware corporation and small business operating in Auburn, Alabama.

Tatarchuk began his career at Auburn in 1982 after earning a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1976 and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1981. He won Auburn's Creative Research Award in 2003.
By Charles Martin
 

Bruce Tatarchuk

Categories: Engineering, Energy & the Environment


Auburn University hosting forum: Additive Manufacturing – The Next Industrial Revolution

8/18/2017 2:16:55 PM      

On July 30, 2015, Auburn University will be hosting a by invitation only forum on industrialized additive manufacturing.

Experts will discuss the application of this advanced technology for industries ranging from aerospace to biotechnology.  Industry leaders from GE Aviation, GKN, NASA, Carpenter Technology, Alabama Laser, U.S. Army Aviation and faculty from Auburn University, University of Alabama, UAH and University of Memphis will describe the role their organizations are playing in developing, implementing and utilizing new processes and computer-aided hardware and software to produce components from material and composites once considered exotic.

A keynote address will be given by Greg Morris, the General Manager of Additive Technologies for GE Aviation.

To learn more about this day-long forum and networking reception to follow, or if you are interested in attending, please email forum organizers at auees@auburn.edu.

Additive Manufacturing Forum

Categories: Engineering, Cyber, Energy & the Environment, Health Sciences, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Transportation, Food Systems


Auburn engineering alumnus named deputy director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

8/18/2017 2:14:52 PM      

Todd May, a 1990 alumnus of Auburn University in materials engineering, has been named deputy director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He will help manage the center's nearly 6,000 civil service and contractor employees and $2.5 billion annual budget.

Since 2011, May served as manager of the Space Launch System, a new large rocket that replaces the space shuttle to take astronauts and probes into space. The rocket is one of NASA's top three priority projects, with May overseeing its development at Marshall through its in-depth critical design review in July.

Previously, May managed the agency's robotic lunar program including the successful launch of two lunar probes in 2009. He also served as deputy associate administrator in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., as well as the deputy manager of Marshall's Science and Mission Systems Office in a dual role as associate program manager of the Constellation Program, which looks to reenergize NASA human spaceflight efforts.

May has been honored with NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal and Leadership Medal, the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive and the John W. Hager Award for professionalism in materials engineering. In 2014, he received Aviation Week's Program Excellence Award. May was named the Distinguished Auburn Engineer by Auburn's Samuel Ginn College of Engineering in 2012 and received the college's Outstanding Auburn Engineer Award in 2010.

May and his wife, Kelly, have four children and reside in Huntsville, Alabama.

Todd May

Categories: Engineering, Auburn In the News


Auburn University’s Pradeep Lall to lead national manufacturing center on harsh environment electronics

8/18/2017 2:13:59 PM      

Auburn University has been selected to lead a national manufacturing effort on harsh environment electronics as part of a U.S. Department of Defense led flexible hybrid electronics institute.

On Friday, Aug. 28, at NASA's Ames Research Center, Department of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced a cooperative agreement to the research consortium FlexTech Alliance to establish and manage a Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics, or FHE MII.

FlexTech Alliance, based in San Jose, California, will coordinate the FHE MII, which comprises 96 companies, 11 laboratories and non-profits, 43 universities and 15 state and regional organizations. Auburn University will head the only node in the state of Alabama.

Leading Auburn's node on harsh environments is Pradeep Lall, the John and Anne MacFarlane endowed professor of mechanical engineering and director of Auburn's NSF Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics, or CAVE.

"This establishment will provide engineers with the integrated skills and theoretical background for the manufacture of flexible hybrid electronics for extreme environment applications," said Lall. "It will create intellectual property and expenditures on research, education and related activities, as well as catalyze development of technologies which can be manufactured in the state. We have developed strategic partnerships with industry and research labs in Alabama and nationally for development and demonstration of technologies for harsh environment operation."

The institute will be awarded $75 million in federal funding over a five-year period and is being matched by more than $96 million in cost sharing from non-federal sources including private companies, universities, not-for-profit organizations and several states, including Alabama.

"The strength of the institute will stem from the strong support and previous work of our partner organizations," said Michael Ciesinski, CEO of FlexTech Alliance. "Auburn University's strong work in utilizing electronics in harsh environments will lend the institute a huge advantage in the special needs for that environment. We look forward to collaborating with the excellent team there and the CAVE facility."

In addition to defense, the institute's activities will benefit a wide range of markets including automotive, communications, consumer electronics, medical devices, health care, transportation and logistics and agriculture.

"I am pleased that Auburn University is a partner in this national organization, and that Dr. Lall is leading the way for its initiatives on harsh environments," said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. "The institute represents an innovative collaboration between the public and private sectors and has the potential to make a huge impact on our nation as we continue to embrace advanced manufacturing."

The new institute is part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program. The FHE MII is the seventh manufacturing innovation institute announced and the fifth under Department of Defense management. The institutes are intended to bridge the gap between applied research and large-scale product manufacturing, and it is anticipated that Auburn's harsh environment node will create technologies for the benefit of the nation's commercial and national defense interests.

Published: 08/31/2015

By: Morgan Stashick

Pradeep Lall

Categories: Engineering, Auburn In the News


Auburn University researcher wins National Science Foundation award for technological innovation

8/18/2017 2:12:12 PM      

Auburn University mechanical engineering professor Pradeep Lall has received a top National Science Foundation award for his work as director of Auburn's Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics, or CAVE3. His research includes developing methods for protecting electronics in harsh environments.

Lall, the John and Anne MacFarlane Endowed Professor in Auburn's Department of Mechanical Engineering, was recently awarded the 2016 Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize for Technological Innovation from the National Science Foundation's Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers program.

"This award is reaffirmation of Dr. Lall's national reputation and recognition of his seminal contributions to the field of mechanical engineering," said Christopher Roberts, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. "His work has positioned Auburn Engineering to be a leader in harsh environment electronics research as we address the challenges in this exciting field."

Lall's research focuses on the development of methods for assuring survivability of electronics to high shock forces, vibration and extreme temperatures. He is best known for his research in the areas of reliability and prognostics for electronic systems operating in harsh environments such as:

  • Combined exposure to temperature and vibration under the hood of an automobile for electronics mounted on-engine or on-transmission;
  • Extreme cold or extreme hot environmental temperatures for prolonged periods of time experienced in military and defense applications;
  • High g-forces experienced by electronics inside missiles;
  • Corrosive attack of salt fog for electronics operating on ships at sea.

"Electronic systems have taken an increasingly important role in automotive design and operation," Lall said. "Traditional automotive electronics at one time consisted of climate control and entertainment systems. Roll the clock forward to the present day and automotive electronics have expanded to include driving assists such as antilock braking systems, traction control systems, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning systems and more. Failure of one of these systems is no longer an inconvenience; it may be critical to the safe operation of the vehicle."

Founded in 1999 as the Center for Advanced Vehicle Electronics, CAVE3 has over the years expanded its expertise to include extreme environment electronics. Lall has been the center's director since 2008, following his appointment as associate director in 2004. Lall also directs Auburn's Harsh Environments Node of the NextFlex Manufacturing Institute, part of a national manufacturing effort on harsh environment electronics led by the U.S. Department of Defense.

CAVE3 partners with industry, government and academic agencies to address major technological challenges through precompetitive research on automotive and harsh environment electronics. This arrangement gives the center an opportunity to address the challenges before the technologies become commercialized.

Lall joined the Auburn faculty in 2002 after a distinguished industry career at Motorola, where he worked on the development and manufacture of wireless products such as cellphones and two-way radios.

"Dr. Lall's recognition with the Alex Schwarzkopf Prize is evidence of the societal and transformational impact that Auburn University is making on automotive and harsh environment technologies in everyday life," said John Mason, Auburn's vice president for research and economic development.

The National Science Foundation's cooperative research centers program was established in 1973 by Schwarzkopf to develop long-term research partnerships among industry, academe and government in areas of mutual interest. The Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize for Technological Innovation has been presented annually since 2003 to an individual or team at a member institution whose research makes an exemplary contribution to technology innovation. More than 100 universities and nearly a thousand researchers are members.

By: Chris Anthony

Pradeep Lall

Categories: Engineering, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Auburn In the News


Student Space Program receives NSF funding to design, build and launch satellites

8/18/2017 2:04:10 PM      

With a National Science Foundation grant secured by Auburn University faculty, undergraduate students at Auburn will design, build and test two CubeSat satellites that will launch into space in 2018.

CubeSats are small satellites that come in multiples of 4-inch cubes. The grant marks the first time the National Science Foundation has awarded a grant for the construction, space launch, and operation of two, three-unit, CubeSats – a project that provides invaluable workforce development experience to Auburn's undergraduate students.

"To receive this kind of funding from NSF is a real feather in our cap," said J-M Wersinger, professor emeritus in the Department of Physics and Auburn University Student Space Program director. "The Auburn University Student Space Program is now recognized as offering one of the most prestigious CubeSat programs in the nation."

Wersinger, along with Mike Fogle, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, will submit a proposal to NASA to obtain a rocket launch that will carry the CubeSats into low Earth orbit for a mission that will last approximately 18 months. The two satellites will undergo many tests and reviews before launch, which will take place in about three years.

"CubeSats are great for research because they are inexpensive to build, you can fly a lot of them at the same time and receive more information and you can look at data in almost real time," Fogle said.

The student and faculty researchers will ultimately study the structure of powerful gamma-ray flashes associated with thunderstorms in the tropical regions of Earth. Auburn launched its first, single-unit CubeSat, AubieSat-1, into space in October 2011. The two, three-unit CubeSats for the NSF-funded mission are named TRYAD 1 and TRYAD 2. "TRYAD" stands for Terrestrial RaYs Analysis and Detection.

The two CubeSats are currently being designed, built and tested solely by undergraduate student members of the Auburn University Student Space Program under the guidance of faculty in the Department of Physics and the College of Engineering. More than 30 students this semester alone are balancing their classroom obligations with 15 to 20 hours per week working in the lab on TRYAD 1 and TRYAD 2.

"The work pays off because people in industry recognize the program creates future leaders," Wersinger said. "The students are given a unique, work-force development experience where they work in teams to complete a space experiment, understand the importance of deadlines and gain a basic understanding of management and systems engineering. Also we have worked and continue to work with several NASA partners like Goddard Space Flight Center, Ames Research Center and Marshall Space Flight Center."

In addition to designing and building TRYAD 1 and 2, Auburn students will be responsible for commanding and controlling the CubeSats in space using the NASA Near Earth Network of ground stations. Through communication with the two satellites, students will also test PULSAR, a new high-bandwidth radio developed by NASA engineers, capable of transmitting 150 million data bits per second.

The project represents a collaboration with University of Alabama Huntsville, and the funding was secured by a team of scientists from UAH and Auburn University, including faculty members Wersinger and Fogle, as well as Daniel Harris, associate professor in Auburn's Department of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Saad Biaz of Auburn's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. The grant is in the amount of $893,873 for a project titled, "Collaborative Research: CubeSat: Observing Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flash (TGF) Beams With A Pair Of CubeSats."

UAH representatives on the project are responsible for developing the science instrument used to detect the gamma-rays while on orbit. They will also collect and analyze the science data, but Auburn University will have access to the data before it is distributed to the scientific community at large.

The Auburn University Student Space Program is part of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. For more information about the college, go to http://www.auburn.edu/cosam/.

Published: 10/08/2015

By: Candis Birchfield

NSF Funded Student Space Project

Categories: Engineering, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)


GE chooses Auburn for advanced education program in 3-D printing

8/18/2017 1:42:23 PM      

GE has chosen Auburn University as one of only eight universities from around the world to participate in the GE Additive Education Program. Auburn will receive a state-of-the-art Concept Laser MLAB 100R metal printer as part of this program, which will support Auburn’s ongoing research and education initiatives in additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing.

A GE advisory group composed of engineers and additive manufacturing specialists chose Auburn out of more than 250 applicants because of its established additive manufacturing curriculum and extensive research initiatives within the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

"Auburn Engineering is a national leader in industrialized additive manufacturing," said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. "Companies such as GE have asked for our help in graduating engineers who are well versed in additive manufacturing and prepared to lead American industry into the future.

"We responded by developing new curricula so students learn how to design for additive manufacturing systems. We are also investing millions of dollars in the latest 3-D printing technology and hiring world-class faculty to teach our students. This award further strengthens our relationship with GE, and we look forward to even greater collaboration with them in our education and research programs."

Additive manufacturing involves fabricating parts layer-by-layer from metals, plastics or other materials based on a 3-D computer-aided design model. Because parts are made by building upon each layer, additive technology reduces waste in the manufacturing process, improves production speed and can create parts that are lighter and more durable than those made using traditional manufacturing methods.

With the ability to create highly complex parts in a fraction of the time, additive technology is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry and creating new opportunities for engineers to explore. As an industry leader in this area, GE is using additive manufacturing to mass produce fuel nozzle injectors for jet engines at its plant in the city of Auburn’s Technology Park West.

Auburn Engineering faculty are also researching other ways to employ additive technology, such as producing next-generation rocket engines for space flights to Mars or developing intricate medical implants for use during surgery.

Auburn has created a new Center for Industrialized Additive Manufacturing, directed by materials engineering professor Tony Overfelt, and hired internationally known faculty working in this growing field of research. The university’s newly renovated Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory opens later this year and will feature dedicated space for Auburn’s additive manufacturing research, including upgraded and expanded testing equipment.

GE’s Additive Education Program was created to support colleges and universities such as Auburn that are educating students in additive manufacturing technologies. Through the program, GE is investing $8 million over five years to provide up to 50 metal additive machines to higher education institutions around the world. The printers are valued at $250,000 each.

"Additive manufacturing and 3-D printing is revolutionizing the way we think about designing and manufacturing products," said Mohammad Ehteshami, vice president of GE Additive. "We want a pipeline of engineering talent that have additive in their DNA. This education program is our way of supporting that goal."

BY CHRIS ANTHONY

AU Professor Tony Overfelt

Lab technician Mike Crumpler, left, and materials engineering professor Tony Overfelt examine metal components in the lab. Overfelt is director of the Center for Industrialized Additive Manufacturing and principal investigator on a $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to research ways for smaller manufacturers to incorporate additive technology into their processes.

Categories: Engineering


Two Auburn professors honored with faculty enhancement awards from Oak Ridge Associated Universities consortium

8/18/2017 1:41:45 PM      

A pair of researchers from Auburn University—Majid Beidaghi, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and Bridgett King, assistant professor of political science—have been named recipients of the 2017 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards, given annually by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities consortium, or ORAU.

The awards are intended to provide seed funding and enhance the research and professional growth of junior faculty at ORAU member institutions. Each winner receives a one-year, $5,000 research grant from ORAU, which is matched by the faculty member’s institution.

"It is a great achievement for Auburn University to receive two Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards from ORAU," said John Mason, Auburn’s vice president for research and economic development. "It speaks very highly of Dr. King and Dr. Beidaghi and their promising research programs that ORAU has selected them for this honor."

Beidaghi, who came to Auburn in 2015, conducts research on the synthesis of advanced materials and the development of devices for energy storage applications. For his Powe Award project, Beidaghi will collaborate with researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to examine potential cathode materials for aluminum batteries, which show promise as an alternative to the traditional lithium-ion batteries used in many portable electronic devices.

King, who joined Auburn’s faculty in 2014, will work with colleagues from the University of Kentucky to study the impact of felony disenfranchisement laws and policy on community voter turnout among citizens who are still legally able to vote. The team will utilize geographic information system technology in combination with data on felony convictions, precinct-specific election data and information from the U.S. Census for a comprehensive precinct-level analysis.

by JONATHAN CULLUM

ORAU Award Recipients

Majid Beidaghi, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and Bridgett King, assistant professor of political science, are recipients of the 2017 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, given annually by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities consortium.

Categories: Engineering, Energy & the Environment


Auburn University’s Warrior Research Center collaborating with U.S. Army Game Studio to develop aviation-training technology for FAA

6/6/2017 4:03:53 PM      

Auburn University is collaborating with the U.S. Army and the Federal Aviation Administration to develop innovative aviation learning and training modules using virtual, interactive and multimedia technology. The partnership seeks to develop gaming modules that can be implemented into the FAA's current curriculum for air traffic controllers.

A cooperative research and development agreement signed on Tuesday, June 6, enables Auburn's Warrior Research Center to join forces with the U.S. Army Game Studio, which is part of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, or AMRDEC, at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. The project is through the FAA's Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Technical Training and Human Performance, of which Auburn serves as a core team member.

The team will develop air traffic controller training technology using research and science-based knowledge on training adult learners and the use of gaming to improve learning and retention. The modules will demonstrate team capabilities to provide realistic, engaging and effective training.

AMRDEC's Army Game Studio has established unmatched capabilities in the development of virtual, interactive and multimedia technology used for outreach, recruiting, education and training. The studio brings together artists, soldiers and gaming experts to create virtual environments for soldiers to train in without putting them at risk in combat. Rapid prototyping of gaming technology tools ensures that the computer-generated training environments are user-friendly and customizable to the soldiers. The studio is best known for developing the free online U.S. Army video game, "America's Army."

"The Army Game Studio is my go-to place for any training, animation, augmented learning or virtual environment that I need," said JoEllen Sefton, director of the Warrior Research Center and associate professor in Auburn's School of Kinesiology. "I know that the talented team there can take anything we develop, or anything I can imagine, and make it real."

A cross-disciplinary effort, the Warrior Research Center is led by Auburn's School of Kinesiology in the College of Education and includes research from engineering, industrial design, psychology, business, veterinary medicine and human sciences. Collaborators also include Auburn's ROTC program, MRI Research Center, Center for Disability Research and Policy Studies and the Gastrointestinal Research Center, as well as the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine on Auburn's campus.

Warrior Research Center investigations include the effects of military vehicles on a body's skeletal system, blood flow and muscles; consequences from prolonged helicopter sitting; evaluation of neck injuries from prolonged wear of helmets; reducing injury and improving warfighter performance. Studies also explore the design of a universal cockpit, controllers and pilot seats to improve mission efficacy and decrease pilot fatigue and injury.

by MORGAN S. MARTIN

Jeff Langhout, left, acting technical director of the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, signs a cooperative research and development agreement with John Mason, Auburn’s vice president for research and economic development.

Jeff Langhout, left, acting technical director of the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, signs a cooperative research and development agreement with John Mason, Auburn’s vice president for research and economic development. The organizations will develop innovative aviation learning and training modules using virtual, interactive and multimedia technology.

Categories: Engineering, Transportation


Auburn researchers using unmanned aircraft to assess crop health

2/8/2016 1:26:29 PM      

The agriculture industry has seen many advances in farming over the decades, from mule and plow to high tech tractors and equipment—and now unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS. Auburn University precision agriculture researchers are using the aircraft to monitor crop health over large acreages; it's a method that lets farmers quickly address potential trouble spots.

"Precision agriculture techniques enable the producer to apply things like fertilizer and herbicide only where they are needed, which helps increase yields and profits for agribusiness," said Steve Taylor, head of Auburn's Department of Biosystems Engineering. "These tools are having a major impact in many areas, not only for agricultural crops but also for better management of our forests."

The unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, are programmed to fly over a specific agricultural area and capture digital images and data with various types of cameras or sensors. After the flight, researchers download the data onto a computer so they can see potential trouble spots, such as moisture stress in plants, diseases that might be developing or a nutrition issue. The data is transferred into GPS-guided ground equipment that can deliver resources—water, pesticides and fertilizer—precisely where they are needed.

"It's a platform to carry a sensor to let us collect information much more rapidly," Taylor said. "The farmer or another UAS provider can come to the field today and collect information, download it to the computer this afternoon and have that data. Within a few hours, we can be back in the field taking action to remedy the problems uncovered by the UAS."

Auburn is conducting much of its research at E.V. Smith Research Center near Tallassee and at other Auburn research stations across the state and for individual farmers.

Research engineer Christian Brodbeck says the Department of Biosystems Engineering works closely with the university's Aviation Center to obtain FAA authorization to fly in specific areas and at certain altitudes.

Auburn's Aviation Center has FAA authorization to fly anywhere in the state below 200 feet for education and data collection activities. Biosystems Engineering recently received a Certificate of Authorization, or COA, from the FAA to allow detailed research flights at the E.V. Smith Research Center at altitudes up to 400 feet high.

"This higher altitude allows us to cover more ground during a flight or reduces our flight time for a given field," Brodbeck said. "We have applied for another COA to fly anywhere in the state at these altitudes to expand our research capabilities."

He says Auburn's fixed-wing drones have extended flight times, in varying wind conditions, while their rotary-wing drones can fly about 15 minutes. The cost of research drones is substantially higher than hobby models, ranging from $30,000 to $50,000, but as with most electronic equipment, the price is expected to go down. The advantage of the professional models is the advanced software, longer flight times and more powerful cameras and sensors, according to Brodbeck.

Greg Pate, director of E.V. Smith Research Center, added, "If we have the data quickly back from processing then we can make adjustments to the crop as we need to. We can get the right product at the right rate in the right place at the right time. And time is critical."

In 2015 Auburn received the nation's first FAA approval to operate a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight School as part of its Aviation Center. Training is conducted by the Aviation Center for Auburn students and faculty, members of public agencies and the general public.

The university has been involved in aviation education for more than 80 years and has been providing flight training for pilots for nearly 75 years. Auburn offers three aviation/aerospace degrees: aviation management, professional flight management and aerospace engineering.

More information is available on the Auburn University Aviation Center website at http://www.auburn.edu/aviationcenter.

By Charles Martin

Categories: Engineering, Energy & the Environment


Auburn researchers using ‘awake-dog’ MRI scanning to seek neural marker that would predict a dog’s detection ability

1/19/2016 11:45:57 AM      

A dog's remarkable nose has helped mankind for ages, from the hunting of game animals to more recently sniffing out explosives and contraband.

However, the field of neuroscience knows very little about how the canine brain works, particularly when it is using the sense of smell. Auburn University researchers are shedding light on this aspect through functional MRI brain scans of awake, non-anesthetized dogs.

"We are the first group in the world to use functional MRI of awake dogs to study how their brains process odorant information," said Assistant Professor Gopikrishna "Gopi" Deshpande of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

"This lets us see their brains in action when they are smelling odors. Best of all, the dogs don't have to be anesthetized."

Auburn's College of Veterinary Medicine developed the unique awake-dog training system that Deshpande is using in his research to establish an MRI baseline test, which would determine a dog's ability to become a good detector before it goes through training.

"The dogs are not restrained in any way," said Paul Waggoner, co- director of Canine Performance Sciences in the veterinary college. "We trained them to get up on the scanner; place their head in the correct position; and then remain still while the scanning occurs. We're really the first ones to have dogs scanned in this awake fashion. Previously dogs had to be scanned while anesthetized."

Deshpande's project, "Functional Imaging for Developing Outstanding Service Dogs," is being conducted in collaboration with the iK9 company, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts.

Auburn and iK9 are using a $1 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to do the study. iK9, which has an office in the Auburn Research Park, is providing the dogs and training while Auburn researchers conduct the MRI scans at Auburn's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Center.

"The dogs are undergoing the awake-dog MRI brain scans before and after they are trained so we can look for baseline neural features that would predict the dogs' future detection performance," Deshpande said. "This would enable us to scan a prospective dog's brain and determine the likelihood of its success."

Forty dogs are undergoing the scans and training during the two-year project.

"After a dog gets its initial scan, we train that dog to be a detection dog," iK9 President Roland Beason said. "After four to six weeks, we scan it again. At two other time points we will again scan the dog."

During the MRI scanning, various odors are presented to the dog's nose, with the idea that researchers can determine a specific neural marker in the brain image—to determine if a dog has the makings of a detector dog.

Current methods of finding and training suitable dogs are time consuming and costly for agencies around the globe.

"If we can pinpoint a specific neural marker on the scan, this could result in tremendous financial savings for the government and private companies since they would not use training resources on unsuitable dogs," said Deshpande, who adds that cost of training a highly specialized detector dog can cost up to $30,000.

The researchers hope their findings will result in a test that can used by agencies nationwide. "Auburn is known around the world for its canine programs," Deshpande said. "We have an excellent team working on this project."


by Charles Martin

Categories: Engineering, Health Sciences, Security


Auburn University enhancing commerce and research through unmanned aircraft systems

8/17/2015 4:19:46 PM      

Unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, are more than a passing hobby—Auburn University officials believe they could be a key component in the nation's commerce and research.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers recently received a firsthand look at the potential when Auburn University Aviation Center officials demonstrated rotary-wing and fixed-wing unmanned aircraft, showing how they can be used in business and industry, as well as in research areas such as engineering, building science and agriculture.

"Auburn leads the nation in UAS technology, and I'm excited by the opportunities it will create for both Alabama and the nation," Rogers said.

Earlier this year Auburn received the nation's first FAA approval to operate a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight School as part of its Aviation Center. The FAA approval requires that operators of unmanned aircraft pass a written exam and a flying test, both of which Auburn will administer through its flight school.

"The potential is immense," said Bill Hutto, Aviation Center director. "Unmanned aircraft systems can safely and efficiently inspect bridges and construction projects, conduct search-and-rescue operations and play a key role in precision agriculture."

In agriculture, unmanned aircraft systems equipped with sensors, such as infrared cameras, can quickly and easily monitor the health of crops and work in conjunction with GPS-guided ground equipment that can deliver resources—water, pesticides and fertilizer—precisely where they are needed.

"Precision agriculture techniques can save time and money and increase yields and profits for agribusiness," said Steve Taylor, head of Auburn's Department of Biosystems Engineering. "These tools will have a major impact in many areas, not only for agricultural crops but also for better management of our forests."

Auburn will conduct UAS flight training on campus and around the state for Auburn students and faculty, members of public agencies and the general public. Hands-on training covers basic flight maneuvers through obstacle courses, while classroom work covers the proper uses for unmanned aircraft, FAA rules and regulations and how to pursue FAA approval to fly commercially. The first class is tentatively set to begin later this month at Auburn.

The university has been involved in aviation education for more than 80 years and has been providing fight training for pilots for nearly 75 years. Auburn offers three aviation/aerospace degrees: aviation management, professional flight management and aerospace engineering.

More information is available on the Auburn University Aviation Center website at http://www.auburn.edu/aviationcenter.

Published: 08/11/2015

By: Charles Martin
Video by: Kevin Fichtner   https://youtu.be/L9waP6bZ2a4

Categories: Engineering, Transportation, External Engagement


Auburn University agreement opens door with Korean automotive industry

8/10/2015 4:16:11 PM      

Auburn University President Jay Gogue has signed a memorandum of understanding with Youngsoo Lee, president of KITECH, to formalize the joint research efforts of Auburn's faculty and labs with local companies supported by KITECH.

The Korea Institute of Technology, or KITECH, recently documented collaboration in research and technology development with Auburn University to support the Korean automotive industry. Established in 1989, KITECH is a government funded research and development institute headquartered in Cheonan, South Korea, with several research centers in Korea, as well as international cooperation centers in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Germany and Santa Clara, California.

"This signing creates a portal for Auburn University that facilitates our collaboration with the local automotive industry, the parent companies in Korea and the Korean government," said Andy Gillespie, Auburn University assistant provost for international programs. "Our King Sejong Institute, in partnership with Keimyung University, is our cultural bridge to Alabama's Korean and American communities, and our new relationship with KITECH will become our technical bridge, building on recent efforts by a number of Auburn's colleges and offices."

Other visitors present at the signing were Byung-Wook Choi, director of the KITECH USA Technology Cooperation Center; Sangkug Lee, director of the International Cooperation Department; Minjin Kim, researcher for the KITECH USA Technology Cooperation Center; and SangWoo Lee, administrator in the International Cooperation Department.

In 2014, the Office of University Outreach held a workshop for local companies supported by KITECH. With this declaration of a commitment to joint research, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development continue this collaboration with its involvement.

"There are over 60 Korean companies along the I85 Corridor between Montgomery and West Point, Georgia," said Larry Fillmer, executive director of the Department of External Engagement and Support. "This MOU provides a framework for collaboration among KITECH subject matter experts and Auburn faculty and researchers."

Throughout the last five years, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering professor Song-Yul 'Ben' Choe has been working with the Office of International Programs and KITECH to establish a regional office in Auburn for joint research and development efforts for the Korean automotive industry.

"Through supporting agreements, research projects, technical assistance, facilities and labs at Auburn may be shared to provide operational and manufacturing solutions to problems being encountered by Korean companies in our immediate region," said Fillmer. "In the future, KITECH may seek to establish an office and operations in the Auburn University Research Park."

Categories: Engineering, Transportation, Auburn In the News