On the edge of the Pacific Ocean near Honolulu this past December, an odd–looking, pilotless 16 ft.-long boat navigated an open water obstacle course, adapting to the waves and wind on the bay, launching and recovering a small submarine and then returning to dock. This boat, which did not have any place for passengers … or a driver, is called Minion. It was built by engineering student members of the Robotics Association at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University and it is possibly one the most sophisticated self-driving boats in the world for its size.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University recently became the only university to acquire the Penguin C – one of the most sophisticated long-endurance, long-range professional unmanned aircraft systems on the market today – specifically for flight training.
Will we get to Mars in our lifetime? Why do we need space lawyers? What’s the most exciting thing about NASA right now?
Ellen Stofan, former NASA chief scientist and current John and Adrienne Mars director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, answered all of these questions and more at a recent Embry-Riddle SpeakER Series event hosted by Marc Bernier. Some of her responses have been paraphrased here, for brevity.
Read highlights from her talk below, or watch the discussion in full on YouTube.
The nation’s only undergraduate Aerospace Physiology program, based at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, recently dispatched its first cohort of students to complete clinical rotations, in collaboration with Advent Health (formerly Florida Hospital).
Students Haleema Irfan, Jenifer Schuman and Morgan Ackermann have so far observed the diagnosis and treatment of patients in the hospital’s operating room, emergency room, hyperbaric wound center, physical therapy center and other settings. For Irfan, who wants to be a neurosurgeon, clinical rotations have helped her gain valuable interpersonal and communication skills.
A prototype spacecraft capable of “hopping” from one asteroid to another effectively transforms water into steam, Embry-Riddle student-researchers have reported.
The spacecraft’s steam-powered propulsion system suggests an endlessly renewable fuel that could be ideal for asteroid mining or “space prospecting,” said Aerospace Engineering Senior Ankit Rukhaiyar.
Identifying renewable sources of spacecraft fuel has become increasingly important as NASA prepares to send humans to Mars and Earth’s finite supply of minerals keeps shrinking. Embry-Riddle’s steam-powered propulsion system suggests a way to keep spacecraft flying longer – in theory forever.
An Embry-Riddle undergraduate has tested field research methods that demonstrate a cheaper, more efficient and less invasive way of identifying and assessing wildlife communities.
The research, conducted by student Courtney Turner-Rathbone, originated at Embry-Riddle’s campus in Prescott, Ariz. The project involved drawing water samples out of the Verde River in Arizona’s central highlands and analyzing the DNA present in those samples using sophisticated sequencing methods. It represents the first research to come out of a collaboration between Embry-Riddle’s new Forensic Biology and Wildlife Science programs.
Traffic-related fatalities are the leading cause of death among on-duty police, emergency medical services personnel and towing operators, yet scientific research into how to prevent such tragedies is scant or non-existent, Embry-Riddle Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Dr. Scott Parr reported at the 2019 Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting.
The world’s premier aviation and aerospace institution, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, earned the No.1 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 ranking of the United States’ best online bachelor’s degree programs, affirming the school’s focus on academic excellence, affordability and promising career opportunities for graduates.
How old are each of the stars in our roughly 13-billion-year-old galaxy? A new technique for understanding the star-forming history of the Milky Way in unprecedented detail makes it possible to determine the ages of stars at least two times more precisely than conventional methods, Embry-Riddle researchers reported this week at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting.
Current star-dating techniques, based on assessments of stars in the prime or main sequence of their lives that have begun to die after exhausting their hydrogen, offer a 20-percent, or at best a 10-percent margin of error, explained Embry-Riddle Physics and Astronomy Professor Dr. Ted von Hippel. Embry-Riddle’s approach, leveraging burnt-out remnants called white dwarf stars, reduces the margin of error to 5 percent or even 3 percent, he said.
Helping pilots swiftly recognize and respond to the first signs of deadly oxygen deficiency, or hypoxia, is the focus of two Embry-Riddle research projects that contributed to a U.S. Navy project that won a 2018 Innovation Award from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCTSD).
Valentina Waters, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide Campus Engineering senior, believes in helping others, and she sees science as a way to magnify her efforts.
“Helping others is what ‘makes the world go ‘round,’” she said. “So why not do it in a smart way that uses technology?”
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Waters grew up with 11 siblings and parents who reinforced the importance of looking out for one another. Today, she tries to translate that lesson through circuitry and wiring, hoping to craft designs that might one day change the world.
For the second year in a row, Embry-Riddle’s David Spitzer reported, “The university’s Formula SAE (student automotive engineering) team this year conducted a program with the after-school STEM superstar Michelle Phelan at Cypress Creek Elementary School.”
Passengers are generally less willing to fly if they know their pilot might take a nap during the flight, although the technique – controlled rest in position, or CRIP – may alleviate fatigue, Embry-Riddle expert Stephen Rice wrote for Forbes.com.
In his essay, Rice noted that the CRIP technique is currently banned in the United States, yet it is being used on commercial flights in some other countries, including Canada and Australia.