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Summer Research Program to Motivate Undergraduates for Careers in Unmanned Aerial Systems

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Aerospace Hot Topic: Unmanned Aerial Systems

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Subodh Bhandari California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Dr. Subodh Bhandari is a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona and the Director of its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Lab. He received his PhD from University of Kansas in 2007. His current research emphasis is on increased autonomy of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), UAV-UGV collaboration, robust and intelligent control, collision and obstacle avoidance system for UAVs, and developing capabilities for widespread use of unmanned vehicles including precision agriculture and 3-D mapping. Dr. Bhandari leads a multi-disciplinary team of faculty and students from several departments within the Colleges of Engineering and Science at Cal Poly Pomona for research on unmanned systems. He has obtained several external grants for research on UAVs including from National Science Foundation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, AERO Institute/NASA Armstrong, and California's Agriculture Research Institute. He is a senior member of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a member of American Helicopter Society (AHS), Association for Unmanned Vehicles International (AUVSI), and American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE).

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The use of unmanned aerial systems (UASs) has been increasing rapidly for widespread applications including for precision agriculture, search and rescue, infrastructure monitoring, and powerline inspection. Because of their cheaper cost, UASs can also be used as the entry point for many advanced concepts in aerospace engineering. However, academia and industry have not seen proportionate increase in the number of students pursuing studies for advanced degrees or entering the workforce in the area of UAS technologies. This paper talks about the summer research program at Cal Poly Pomona that is designed to motivate students to advanced degrees and/or career path in UAS technologies. Students from Community Colleges and High Schools are also involved in the program. The students have been supported by funding from NSF, NASA, Department of Education, and industry.

The Program exposes the students to many aspects of research including literature review, designing and conducting flight test experiments, data collection, data processing, algorithm development, and implementation. The students get opportunities to learn other disciplines including Computer Science and Electrical & Electronics Engineering that are important for the successful research in UAS technologies. The students involved in the program have shown increased interest in advanced degrees in the area of UAS technologies including for PhD degrees. Many of the graduates have joined the companies involved in the unmanned aerial systems. More than 50% of the Community College Students who were involved in the Program transferred to Cal Poly Pomona and continued their interest in unmanned aerial systems.

Bhandari, S. (2017, June), Summer Research Program to Motivate Undergraduates for Careers in Unmanned Aerial Systems Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28885

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