Engineering students form autonomous vehicles and robotic systems research group
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
A group of Lawrence Tech engineering students have formed the Autonomous Vehicles and Robotic Systems Student Committee as part of the Great Lakes Chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). All members will participate in research projects in autonomously operating vehicles and various robotic systems.
A meeting of the Student Committee will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 4 p.m. in room E101 of the Engineering Building. Students from all Colleges interested in attending the meeting to learn more about the group should email Professor Vladimir Vantsevich in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jamie Maclennan, a BSME student, has been installed as the first president of the Student Committee. She will also serve on the board of the AUVSI Great Lakes Chapter, which covers Michigan. Jesse Paldan, a MSMSE student is the first vice president.
This is the first AUVSI Student Committee in Michigan and perhaps the entire country. It has been made possible with the help of Vantsevich, who serves as the faculty advisor; Dean of Students Kevin Finn; Bruce Legge, president of the Great Lakes Chapter and co-advisor of the Student Committee; and John Wilson, sales and engineering manager of National Instruments, which has been a strong supporter of mechatronics at Lawrence Tech. Wilson also serves as a co-advisor of the Student Committee.
“Having students involved in the Great Lakes Chapter is important because they represent the future of our organization,” Legge said. “This is why we all together initiated this student research organization.”
“Lawrence Tech’s mechatronics program taps into a major industry trend of increasingly leveraging software and electronics to enhance mechanical and autonomous system performance. It reflects a general consumer trend of making buying decisions based on features that are software or electronic in nature. The intelligent implementation of mechanical systems is a core focus area for our company and is an important step forward in meeting our country’s environmental, educational, and economic goals,” Wilson said.
The Student Committee shapes research in the mechatronics area at Lawrence Tech. The mechatronics master’s degree program, which concentrates on autonomous/conventional ground vehicle and robotic systems engineering, started in the fall of 2006. Sixteen people have graduated with that degree from Lawrence Tech, and there are now 32 students in the program.
Vantsevich places a strong emphasis on student research projects, and since 2008 mechatronics students have joined him in writing eight research papers that have been published in peer-reviewed professional conference proceedings and journals, including the International Society for Terrain Vehicle Systems, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the International Forum on Mechatronics, the International Association for Vehicle System Dynamics, and Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering and Technology Symposium.
“Research is an essential element to my approach to mechatronics and its vehicle and various robotic applications,” Vantsevich said. “I want my students to tackle real engineering and basic science problems that the professionals face in this field.”
Participation in an ongoing research project is a requirement for joining the new Student Committee, and so far 24 students, including a few undergraduates, have accepted the challenge. They are involved in math and computer modeling of various robotic systems, designing and building autonomously operating systems and vehicles, developing data acquisition systems, and testing vehicles and robots. Support for the projects comes from industry, TARDEC and mechatronics faculty.
Vantsevich would like to see more undergraduates from all Lawrence Tech colleges participate, and would even like to attract students still in high school.
Student Committee members pay $15 in dues to the AUVSI Great Lakes Chapter. They receive the chapter’s monthly magazine and can attend the Great Lakes Chapter events and meetings with presentations on industry topics.
“Attending the Chapter meetings will open the door to the job world,” Vantsevich said. “This is a great way for our students to meet people in government and industry, and even the owners of companies. This should create some great opportunities.”
The three advisors believe that the establishment of the Student Committee will:
The AUVSI Great Lakes Chapter, National Instruments, and Lawrence Tech’s mechatronics faculty have agreed to work towards:
Encouraging high school students to develop an interest in science, math, autonomous vehicles and robotics.