Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015-07-30: Autonomy Incubator Aero Scholar Exit Presentations

Lauren Howell prepares to launch her demo.

Today's the day! Aero Scholars Lauren Howell (University of Alabama) and Michael Esswein (University of Buffalo) revealed their much-anticipated exit presentations to mark the end of their internships with the Autonomy Incubator (AI). In addition to their PowerPoint presentations, Lauren demonstrated her work with Bezier splines by including a flight demo launched with Meghan Chandarana's gesture recognition program, while Michael displayed a selection of the equipment he designed and 3D printed for various vehicles in the AI during his time here.

Michael explains the Odroid mount he created for the Mars Flyer.

Both Lauren and Michael also emphasized how much they had learned through working as part of the AI team. Lauren came into her project with no knowledge of splines or object-oriented programming, and learned them as she went to create her spectacular end result.

"It's amazing how you went from 'What's a spline?' to 'Let me tell you about splines,'" AI head Danette Allen commented to Lauren after her presentation.

Michael, meanwhile, spoke to how much he had learned about Kalman filters in all their various permutations.  To illustrate his enthusiasm, he included a picture of Kal-Man, the mathematical superhero that's been gracing the intern whiteboard since he and Josh Eddy started the project.

"[Before] I'd only heard of unscented Kalman filters, and now..." he said, pausing to roll his eyes as the crowd laughed. "Now I know things!"

Lauren and Michael's final day of work is tomorrow. We're too sad to post an entire article about their imminent departure, so for now, we'll say: Lauren and Michael, you were both incredible gifts to the Autonomy Incubator this summer. Michael, your infinite patience and gentle sense of humor made the intern cave a harmonious place to work (and occasionally goof off), and the diversity of your projects this summer shows how broad your range of talents is.  Lauren, your intellectual tenacity is just one facet of the strong character that makes you someone we are all proud to have on our team, but it also belies a warm heart and a desire to help others that permeates everything you do.  All of us in the AI can't wait to see how brightly both of you will continue to shine.

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