Thursday, August 16, 2007

Summer is gone...

The summer is over. I am days away from being back in the classroom. As with most students, I am excited and saddened about going back. I am excited, because I get to start working on the grant funded research project for my autonomous helicopter group. I am very sad that I will not be living with my fiancé during the semester. It is going to be a tough semester, but I think I will survive.

The research project is going to be amazing, we not only have our grant money, but we are also using the award money from winning the AHS 1st responder competition in Huntsville. That is an extra $5000 toward our vehicle. We are going to use our pre-existing R/C helicopter as our base platform. From that we are going to strap a couple of “gumstick” computers onto the bottom, strap on a couple sensors, then get to writing a bunch of code in order to get it to fly intelligently. In order to fulfill our grant, we are going to get it to fly, from a distance, up to the side of a building, look in the windows, and try to identify a target. I plan on journaling it every day that I do work. I am going to try to get the other guys to do the same. Maybe we could collaborate in a blog like this!

I will also be involved in the UMR Robotics Team. I will be helping in a detached way. I do not plan to devote a lot of time strictly to the team. I am taking on more of an advisory role. I will be helping in major decisions, approving designs, and helping everyone keep on track in general. If there is one thing that the team needs, it is to keep on track. We have a great opportunity this year. After visiting a couple of conferences, including the AUVSI conference in D.C., we got some great sponsors that are going to be helping us out by provided motor controllers, new motors, and more. Follow their website for more info.

I was accepted into the work study program this year. Hopefully I will be able to get an interesting job. I really wanted to work as a research assistant of some sort, but I am afraid that the jobs offered might be a little more menial than that. It will help me get some gas money, so that is good enough for now.

I have also been doing a little bit of design research, on my own. I have been looking in to building an autonomous submarine. I have been working on a way to create an airtight container to house a brushless motor and shaft. I think I have found all the parts that I need, but I just need to find the time and, mainly, the money in order to do some experiments. If I can get it to work then I will be well on my way.

I have been looking for work opportunities in the Chicago area. Victoria and I visited there last weekend, and fell in love with the city. She says that she has other seven different colleges that she can apply to for graduate school! We plan on moving up there after we get married next June. I am just hoping that I will be able to find something in the realm of robotics there. All of the companies that I spoke with at the AUVSI conference were all from the east coast. There are a couple of companies that look promising, I just need to try to get a hold of them now, so I can start talking with someone about getting hired next summer.

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