National Science Foundation
1 March 2005 – 28 February 2008
Co-P.I.s Dan Davis, Dimitris C. Lagoudas, John L. Junkins, Othon K. Rediniotis, John D. Whitcomb, and James Boyd
Total award $250,000
This Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program on Nanotechnology and Materials Systems supports 12 engineering and science students each year for three years in a 10-week summer research experience at the Texas A&M University. It offers projects with foci on nanoscience and nanotechnology, materials science, and engineering systems. Projects are selected to span the physical scales from nano through macroscopic systems. The primary goal is to present a model program for increasing the number of U.S. science and engineering students entering graduate studies and pursuing research and academic careers. This goal is pursued through four (4) coordinated components: 1) A challenging research experience in exciting science and engineering fields of nanotechnology and materials; 2) A close and personal mentoring relationships with by senior faculty and researchers, administrators, graduate student role models and peer groups of other undergraduate students; 3) Exposure to the research communities at regional universities, industries and government agencies involved in nanotechnology and materials research to further foster interest in research careers and graduate studies; and 4) Information on graduate school including seminars on GRE preparation, application procedures, and funding a graduate education. Additionally, the program sponsors weekly educational field trips to industrial and governmental agencies such as NASA Johnson Space Center (Houston, TX), Lockheed-Martin Corporation (Fort Worth, TX) and Zyvex Corporation (Richardson, TX). These field trips provide some real-world context to the broad multidisciplinary nanotechnology and materials research the REU students experience in the laboratory. Also, the REU-Site students participate in an annual regional research conference on the multidisciplinary areas of functionalized nanomaterials, multifunctional materials systems, biomaterials and devices, multiscale modeling, novel design concepts, and intelligent systems.
2005 Topic: Space-Based Antenna Morphing using Adaptive-Reinforcement Learning Control
The state of the art in spacecraft communication requires that multiple antennas be mounted on a single spacecraft so as to permit communication with multiple ground stations, many of which have unique receivers and transmitter characteristics. One approach currently being investigated is to use a reconfigurable constellation of satellite antennas, in which each antenna is a single satelite. Another approach is to use a single antenna capable of altering its geometry to achieve world-wide compatibility between receivers and transmitters. The implication of a single space antenna capable of altering its geometry is a significant capability for spacecraft.
This research seeks to develop and demonstrate the feasibility of a reconfigurable antenna shape controller that can achieve and control the optimal antenna shape, on demand. Shape-Memory Alloys (SMA) have been employed to enhance structural properties and increase the ability of structures to adapt and conform as desired, and antenna elements rigged with SMA actuators will be used here as the actuation element. A morphing control aproach called Adaptive-Reinforcement Learning Control will be used to efficiently alter the antenna shape to achieve optimal concavity. This controller is capable of independently learning the optimal concavity in a lifelong sense, thus allowing a space-based radar and communication systems to decrease the quantity of antennas currently mounted on spacecraft.
Specific tasks and research objectives:
- Generate original Reinforcement Learning algorithm.
- Construct a simple finite element model of a parabolic antenna element.
- Quantify input/output behavior of a space antenna utilizing SMA actuators.
- Demonstrate reconfiguration capability using simulation.
Working with me on this program is Undergraduate Research Assistant:
- Holly Feldman