The 2015 External Advisory Board (EAB) meeting for AE's Aerospace System Design Lab (ASDL) drew a standing-room-only crowd of experts from industry, government and academia to the Weber Building April 28 and 29.
Organized as a review of ASDL's research and academic mission, the meeting felt more like an aerospace symposium as nearly 120 students and faculty presented more than 50 academic and sponsored research projects.
Subjects ranged from airline schedule optimizations to astroid capture & mitigation and unmanned naval vehicles.
"For me, it was an opportunity to see how much more breadth and depth ASDL has acquired. It was great to see some of the projects have branched out into planetary exploration," said William Kimmel, co-chair of the 60-member advisory board and the chief technologist at NASA Langley Research Center's Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate.
"This meeting always gives me a chance to think about the future and to connect with other possible research partners. This year, I spoke with people from [NASA's] Marshall Research Center -- people I normally would not see -- and we began collaborating about a possible Marshall-Langley-ASDL research project."
Last week's EAB was the 23rd time that ASDL's many sponsors and supporters have gathered at the School of Aerospace Engineering to review the lab's many accomplishments, which, this year included:
- Strategic software alliances with industry giants like Dassault Systemes, Phoenix Integration, Pace, and SAS;
- An average of $14 million in research expenditures from nearly 50 industry and governmental entities, covering every sector of the aeronautical and astronautical fields;
- Six recognized Centers of Excellence;
- 200 graduate and 100 undergraduate researchers;
- 40+ research faculty and post-docs.
The first day of the meeting featured Grand Challenge presentations by ASDL graduate students. Inspired by the needs of industry and governemnt, these open-ended explorations are the bedrock of many students' graduate programs-- integrating key principles from mulitiple disciplines with research, teamwork, communication, and other “soft skills” needed for success in the field. The results are often used as a basis for further, sponsored research.
"The hardest part about critiquing these presentations was finding something new to say about how well they were researched and executed," said one industry attendee during the reception that capped off the first day.
"I had to repeat what every other firm was saying: 'Your work is great. Come work for us.'"
The second day of the meeting featured closed-door reports on the outcomes and projected next steps of currently sponsored research projects in a wide variety of applications, including civil aviation, propulsion and energy, defense and space, advanced systems engineering, and advanced concepts.
"I think a lot of our board members walked away impressed by the level of analysis that ASDL research teams brought to their projects," said Mavris.
"And we received feedback that confirmed our approach to the research."