Mark Woods ME ’09 was one of five graduating seniors honored for their thesis research at the seventh annual Falvey Scholars Awards Program, held on May 1 in Falvey Memorial Library. The award winners had the opportunity to present their research to an audience of faculty mentors, fellow students, family members, and well wishers. They also received a framed certificate in recognition of their achievement.
The title of Woods’ project was “Unmanned Sailboat Control” and described the research he had done in summer 2008 with Dr. C. Nataraj, Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Mr. Payne Kilbourne, the CEO of Unmanned Ocean Vehicles, Inc (UOV). This Virginia-based company had teamed with researchers in the College of Engineering’s Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and Control to equip UOV’s prototype of an automated boat with energy-harvesting technology and unmanned control systems. Such a vehicle has many applications, including environmental monitoring, homeland security, and search and rescue missions.
For his part of the project, Woods helped identify and formulate a control approach. He read technical reports to understand the existing control systems on boats and then set up a complex simulation algorithm in MATLAB. At the end of a 10-week period, he had developed and debugged a working simulation.
In nominating Woods, Dr. Nataraj said, “This algorithm can now be used as a numerical test bed for investigation of novel controllers and has proved to be a valuable asset. Overall, I was impressed by Mark’s analytical skills, excellent work ethic, and leadership abilities.”
The steering committee for the Falvey Scholars comprises the following members: Joseph Lucia, Library Director; Darren Poley, Outreach Librarian; Dr. Edwin L. Goff, Associate Dean, Honors Program; and Jane Morris, Director, and Nora Pillard, Assistant Director, Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.