Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015-07-15: Autonomy Incubator Welcomes New Team Member Joe Lemanski

Joe Lemanski sits at his command center in the backstage area of the Autonomy Incubator's flight range, surrounded by three computer displays running on two different machines. He takes a sip of his NASA Langley cafeteria coffee (which is surprisingly good stuff) and continues to work as our social media intern snaps his picture again and again.

"I'm researching different autopilots," he says of his work for today. "We need to figure out if an open-source solution would be optimal for us, or some other source."

Joe is the AI's most recent hire; his first day was this past Monday.  He's hardly a newcomer to the world of small UAVs, however.  He graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering in 2009, and while he was there, he worked in the Unmanned Systems Lab under Dr. Kevin Kochersberger.  After graduation, he went on to work and do research for BOSH Global Services, a private company based in Newport News that provides unmanned aerial systems services to both the DoD and customers in other countries. After that job, he spent some time working in IT and infrastructure under an Air Force contract, a time he calls "a little off track" from his specialty but which he believes will prove helpful in the Autonomy Incubator.

"Now, I have a really good grasp of the implementation of things in the real world," he says.

Now that he's officially joined the Autonomy Incubator team, Joe is looking forward to exploring the myriad of different areas his new position lets him work in.

"Here, I'm going to be the hardware guy, but I'm going to wear two hats. I'll also be handling the implementation of some of the software on the hardware," he said. "Software-hardware integration, you could call it."

Joe will also be heading up an assessment of the AI software architecture and code base -- coming up with a "configuration management solution," he says. While such massive undertakings can be daunting, Joe's outlook on the project remains confident and simple: "Let's make a place for stuff and then put the stuff there." A succinct motto, easy to rally behind.

While he works to keep the Autonomy Incubator a smooth-running research machine,  Joe is also working towards a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering from nearby Old Dominion University (ODU).  Formally, his concentration is in signal processing and communication, but he still has plenty of time to decide where he wants to focus his research.

"I want to do video analytics, and machine learning is interesting to me, but I'm not sure yet," he said.

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