• The creators of the MIT six-rotor vehicle, above, developed in collaboration with Ascending Technologies GmbH in Germany, won a tie for first place in a competition to develop a micro air vehicle to aid in a hypothetical hostage situation.

    Photo courtesy / Daniel Gurdan/Ascending Technologies

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  • Team winners in the First U.S.-Asian Demonstration and Assessment of Micro-Aerial and Unmanned Ground Vehicle Technology Conference. (Front row, from left) Aero-Astro grad student Ruijie He; project scientist Sam Prentice; EECS grad student Abraham Bachrach; (back row, from left) Aero-Astro Professor Nicholas Roy and Ascending Technologies (Germany) partners Michael Achtelik, Jan Stumpf and Daniel Gurdan.

    Photo / Nick Roy

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Awards & Honors

Team excels in aerial demonstration

An MIT team, under the leadership of Boeing Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics Nicholas Roy, tied for first place in the First U.S.-Asian Demonstration and Assessment of Micro-Aerial and Unmanned Ground Vehicle Technology Conference, held March 10-15 in Agra, India. The MIT team was also awarded Best Rotorcraft and was recognized for special achievement by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center.

MIT team members were aero-astro graduate student Ruijie He, EECS graduate student Abraham Bachrach and project scientist Sam Prentice. All team members are also part of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The demonstration involved a competition among 12 teams in a hostage-rescue scenario. The objective of the competition was to deploy a micro air vehicle (smaller than 30 centimeters) over a distance of 1 kilometer, identify the presence of hostages and coordinate with ground vehicles in recovering the hostages. MIT's entry, developed in collaboration with Ascending Technologies GmbH in Germany, used a six-rotor, 30 centimeter helicopter to demonstrate autonomous navigation, intelligent machine planning and adaptive image processing at various stages of the mission. The team was awarded first place in a tie with University of Arizona and ENAC/Martin-Mueller Engineering.

Three honorary degrees for Widnall

MIT Institute Professor Sheila Widnall will receive three honorary degrees this spring. Between May and June, the University of Oxford in England, Claremont Graduate University in California and Northwestern University in Illinois will present her with honorary doctor of science degrees. Widnall '61, SM '61, SCD '64, was MIT's first woman professor of engineering. Between 1993 and 1997, she was secretary of the U.S. Air Force. 

Naval and Air Force awards go to faculty

Two MIT faculty have been awarded Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Awards: Michael Strano, the Charles (1951) and Hilda Roddey Career Development Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, for his proposal, "Short Wavelength Optical Modulators for Undersea Communications via Franz-Keldysh Oscillations in Electronically Sorted Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes," and Markus Buehler, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, for "Hierarchical Nanomechanics of Amyloid Protein Fibers."

Buehler also received a grant through the Air Force's Young Investigator Research program to investigate structural hierarchies in biomimetic materials. Other MIT faculty receiving this award are Aslan Kasimov, an instructor in applied mathematics, who will investigate accurate numerical simulation and analysis of multidimensional shock and detonation waves; and Lizhong Zheng, KDD Career Development Associate Professor in Communications and Technology, who will study dynamic wireless networks based on open physical media.

In addition, Buehler received the DARPA Young Faculty Award for University Microsystems Research, as did Assistant Professor Tomas Palacios of EECS and Assistant Professor Evelyn Wang of mechanical engineering.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 2, 2008 (download PDF).

Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships, Faculty, Students


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