The World’s Oldest Rodeo and 4th of July Celebration in Prescott

Arriving in Prescott, many college students experience a slower, traditional small-town vibe. Yet, when Christmas or patriotic holidays roll around, Prescott awakens. It is a festive Hallmark town, colored with cheer and décor. This 4th of July was no different. Drawing people from all over Arizona, Prescott was bustling with numerous events, like the World’s Oldest Rodeo, the 4th of July Parade, Northern Arizona’s Annual Tattoo Fest, and, of course, a fireworks show.

Taken in an alley, this gem of a Prescott mural was nicely hidden behind Whiskey Row.

To kick off the weekend, Prescott hosted the World’s Oldest Rodeo. Surprisingly, this was a culture shock like no other, a country culture shock if you will. I was not prepared, cowboy hat and boot-less. In awe, I watched as cowboy after cowboy competed in various horse-riding and animal lassoing events. Many times, I had to Google the competition I was watching, for I had never seen such a thing. But, like the large crowd of country folk in attendance, I was entertained and thoroughly enjoyed my time.

These friends (alumni Timmy Casnellie, alumni Ashley Carlson, student Keliz White) joined me in experiencing the rodeo life.

The annual 4th of July Parade processed down the streets of the downtown Courthouse Square, ultimately testing my parallel parking skills. Hundreds of Prescott locals showed up to support our veterans, lining the streets with red, white, and blue. The streets were overflowing with retro cars, local law enforcement, motorcycles, and tons of floats, from our own Golden Eagles Flight team’s float to a Democratic float, sporting a huge cutout poster of President Biden. If this puts into context how busy it was, I had to risk getting kicked by a flipping cheerleader just to cross the street for a coffee.

This is an example of the numerous tattoo shop booths that lined Tattoo Fest.

Unbeknownst to most, the Northern Arizona Annual Tattoo Fest was taking place at the Prescott Resort and Casino. Although daunting at first glance, the fest was a creative chaos; the air filled with the nonstop buzz of the needle as people were getting tattooed left and right. After spending many hours browsing the line of booths, I left the resort reflecting on all the life stories that were shared and souvenirs I collected. It was a welcoming environment, and I’m appreciative of this glimpse into the tattoo world.  

To complete the weekend, the fireworks show went off over Watson Lake. While the fireworks were grand and explosive, the fair-like activities prior were more enjoyable in my opinion. Since the pandemic, I have forgotten how the simple activity of picnicking with friends could be so fun. And, the grand finale of firework burst after firework burst made the trek back to the car in the dark worth it.

This image displays the start of the fireworks’ finale.

Overall, Prescott’s support and applaudable effort in celebrating this holiday weekend was a pleasure to partake in. Growing up in a city, I do miss the hustle and bustle of typical metropolitan life. Seeing the town rise to the challenge made me appreciate the community we are a part of, here, in Prescott, Arizona.

The Trace Evidence Analysis of Makeup

by MaeLee DeVries

My name is MaeLee DeVries and I am a senior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Prescott, Arizona. I am majoring in Forensic Biology and I am interested in trace evidence, which is why I chose the research topic of trace evidence of makeup. We’ve all seen it on crime shows, there’s a piece of evidence that could not have been found, but somehow the investigators are always able to trace it back to the perpetrator in the end. While that is not wholly reality, it is not completely far from the truth either. Trace evidence can be very difficult to deal with because it is difficult to see, difficult to handle, and even more difficult to avoid cross contamination. However, if done properly, the analysis performed on trace evidence can corroborate stories and determine the truth. This is why I wanted to do this research because the more data there is, the stronger statistical values can be, which can create more conclusive evidence. Hopefully, this research helps contribute to a usable and searchable database for makeup to help investigators speed up investigation processes and be more objective in their investigations. After all, objectivity is one of the main goals of evidence-based research because it excludes bias and seeks the truth.

To be able to do this research, I had the privilege of receiving a Space Grant and being selected to be funded for an Ignite Undergraduate Research Project during the fall semester of 2020. The goal of this research was to support and develop a method for easily distinguishing the morphological and chemical features of various lipsticks and eyeshadow palette samples. There is a lot of data that still needs to be collected in trace evidence analysis of makeup research to fill the gap of information that exists; therefore, this research will demonstrate nondestructive analysis techniques that can help trace the evidence back to its source by providing more data that can be utilized in crime laboratories to assist in solving crimes. As the project leader and the only student on this project, my duties were to prepare the research samples, analyze the samples using a light microscope, Fourier-Transform Electron Microscopy (FTIR), and learn how to use the Scanning Electron Microscope in tandem with an Energy Dispersive Spectrometer (SEM/EDS) to analyze the potentially toxic chemicals within and individualistic characteristics of the different brands of makeup samples

Highly esteemed engineer, Dr. Lanning, teaching me how to use the SEM/EDS.

In this research my mentor, Dr. Teresa Eaton and I studied three different brands of eyeshadow and two different brands of lipstick. Originally, we were going to study six different brands of eyeshadow palettes; however, due to this being my last semester, time constraints did not allow me to study all of the samples I would have liked to; therefore, we studied palettes from Maybelline, Revlon, and Milani and a red lipstick sample and a pink lipstick sample each from Milani, and Wet n Wild. I did, however, run into some hiccups along the way, which is nothing new if you are familiar with research. First, preparing the samples took much longer than expected due to the meticulous cleaning and recleaning of materials to avoid cross contamination. When dealing with evidence, this is paramount. The second problem I ran into had to do with the SEM/EDS. While I was in the middle of viewing and analyzing my samples, the filament on the SEM/EDS burned out, putting my entire project to a halt. The filament allows for the visualization of the samples because that is where the electron beam originates, which without, the visualization is not possible. Obviously, I cannot research blindly; however, the kind Dr. Lanning (pictured above) came to my rescue, replacing the filament within hours. These roadblocks were impeding, but I got past them and was able to complete what I could of my research.

I analyzed a total of 37 samples viewed under the light microscope and analyzed using FTIR and 41 on the SEM/EDS, so a lot of samples were run, just not all of the samples I wanted to analyze. The techniques used were not invasive, other than the SEM/EDS and were able to discriminate between palettes, but not individual samples. FTIR was not invasive and quick, but only showed a fingerprint, while SEM/EDS was destructive, but showed the chemical composition and only used a very small amount of sample.

Optical Microscopy Images

FTIR Spectra and Data

Graph 1. Sub-sample 1b compared to TALC in an FTIR spectrum.
Graph 2. Sub-sample 2b compared to Silicon in an FTIR spectrum.

As you can see, Figure 1, 2, and 3 demonstrate the light microscopic view of a Milani eyeshadow sample, a Maybelline eyeshadow sample, and a Revlon eyeshadow sample, respectively. In my observations, I noted signature red-pink circular particles in nearly all of the Milani eyeshadow colors, which can help distinguish the samples from other palettes. In the Maybelline reflective eyeshadow sample glass-like and other reflective and metallic-like particles were noted, which were consistent with most of the shiny and glimmering samples. The Revlon eyeshadow was fine and fibrous, which was common throughout the more neutral and less glittery and shiny eyeshadows.

Graphs 1 and 2 are both FTIR spectra and show that there is a broad band at around 1000 in both sub-samples 1b and 2b. This was the same amongst nearly all of them, but other peaks helped differentiate between palettes based on what the chemical fingerprint was most likely related to. Most of the sub-samples from Sample 1 (Maybelline) were related to TALC, most of the sub-samples from Sample 2 (Revlon) were related to silicon, and most of the sub-samples from Sample 4 (Milani) were related to paraffin. This simple information is significant due to the differentiation it provides between palettes.

SEM/EDS Images and Data

Figure 4 shows the SEM image of eyeshadow sub-sample 2a by Revlon. The elemental composition is shown to the right demonstrating that there are two heavy metals that were not expected to be within this sample, Tc and Bi. Both are not toxic at low levels.

Figure 5 shows the SEM image of eyeshadow sub-sample 1i by Maybelline, which demonstrates expected heavy metals such as Fe, Cu, and Zn.

Figure 6 shows the SEM image of eyeshadow sub-sample 4e by Milani. Again, expected heavy metal content is observed as well as cylinders of carbon suspected to be some form of microplastics.

Figure 7 shows the SEM image of lipstick sample 16 by Wet n wild. Expected chemical composition is seen.

Finally, Figures 4, 5, 6, and 7 show the images from the SEM and the chemical composition from the EDS for eyeshadow and lipstick samples. Figure 6 shows that there are some heavier more toxic chemicals in the sample compared to the other samples, but these chemicals are not toxic to humans at very low quantities. There were no distinct chemical differences between the palettes other than Sample 2, which had Technetium and/or Bismuth in several of the samples. The SEM images were quite fascinating to look at, and while each sample did look different in its own way, it would be a subjective way to look at evidence and as I said earlier, that is not the goal of trace evidence.

This image shows me preparing the eyeshadow makeup samples and preventing cross contamination where possible.

My final results for this research project indicated that the chemical analysis techniques, FTIR and EDS, can potentially differentiate between palettes, but not individual sub-samples, while the optical microscopy techniques, light microscopy, and SEM, may be useful in differentiating between sub-samples in color and morphology. However, as I mentioned above, this process is much more subjective, and it is important to have objective methods of analysis in trace evidence. This analysis is not discriminatory enough by itself to differentiate between individual sub-samples, though it may be useful for differentiating between palettes. In the end, there was ample data gathered that demonstrated elemental, morphological, and spectroscopic properties of the samples for results and future analyses.

In conclusion, I hope this is not the end of this research because there is so much potential that this type of research has to assist crime laboratories in reaching the truth faster and more objectively. The opportunity I have had with this research project has yielded great experience and understanding for me in the future. Personally, I want to be a forensic DNA analyst, which must be an objective analysis technique, because the main goal is providing the truth. Not who we think did it. DNA analysis uses databases, which are crucial to conclusions; however, DNA cannot act alone in submission of evidence. Stories and other trace evidence must align in order for the truth to be found; therefore, other forms of trace evidence are vital and necessary. I love science and the potential it holds. After all, it is prepared to provide the truth, if we handle and analyze it properly.

From Embry-Riddle Student to Forensic Investigator

My name is Veronica Rodriguez. I am a senior majoring in Forensic Biology with a minor in Psychology. What made me interested in majoring in Forensic Biology was wanting to understand the fundamentals of forensics. I had the mentally that it is just like the television shows. Unfortunately, it was not what I had expected. It challenged me in so many ways. I am truly thankful for everything that I have learned with this major. It has taught me to work for the truth and to find the facts. I choose Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University due to its amazing reputation. It also has a great Biology and Chemistry Department that has been very supportive in the process. Throughout my courses at Embry-Riddle it has prepared me for one of the best experiences in my educational career.

In the summer of 2020, I was able to obtain an internship with Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office in Prescott Valley, Arizona. I was hired as an intern and my duties were to assist the medicolegal death investigators (MDIs) and the forensic pathologist. This office is unique since the MDIs not only investigate their cases and go to scenes but, they also help perform autopsies with the forensic pathologist as well. I was super nervous at first since I had no idea what to expect on my first day at the office.

After being more comfortable at the office, I attended death scenes and interacted with other law enforcement agencies to conduct proper investigations. I learned how to properly document photos of the decedent, property, and evidence with a digital camera. I was really proud of myself that I was able to apply what I have learned in my courses to real life. I also learned the process of how the MDIs produce reports, gather information, and create death certificates. Other responsibilities I had during the internship were to perform autopsies, take toxicology specimens, and take fingerprints of the decedent on my own.

Documenting body bag seal to prove that it was not tampered with.

Embry-Riddle has prepared me for this internship with the courses I have taken. Anatomy and Physiology has allowed me to understand the different organs and the functions of the body. It has also taught me how the body is supposed to work and what happens when something goes wrong. Trace Evidence and Investigative Methods and Forensics allowed me to understand how a scene is investigated and how to collect evidence in a way that preserves it; this knowledge was useful when I had to retrieve fingernail clippings from a homicide victim. Procedural Law and Evidence course allowed me to be familiar with the importance of search warrants, chain of custody, and the Arizona statutes that apply for the Medical Examiner’s Office. Being able to apply the knowledge from my courses further reinforced what I have learned and made it clearer during my internship.

Macerating remains to be sent to University of North Texas Center for Human Identification.

This internship has allowed me to find a career path that I really enjoy. I have had many great memories and experiences, and it will be something that I will never forget. Once I graduate, I want to get my certification in the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigation. I was recently hired at the District 7 Medical Examiner’s Office in Daytona Beach as a Forensic Investigator/Forensic Technician. If it weren’t for my education at Embry-Riddle I wouldn’t have been able to obtain an internship that later landed me a job!

A Great Start to Senior Year

by Bria Booth

Hello everyone! Summer has finally ended. This year, I felt so ready to get back into classes. It’s been about six months since I’ve been able to see friends and learn in a classroom. I moved back to Prescott two weeks ago to celebrate my friend Vee’s birthday.

Our freshman year, Vee and I lived in the same dorm! We met on the “Schools App” a few months before move-in and got to know each other. Though we don’t live together anymore, she’s become one of my closest friends. The people that I met my freshman year are all so important to me. We’ve grown and faced challenges together. Our friend Grace falls into that same category. She was a part of my orientation group, and we ended up getting along really well. Grace and Vee have been my family while away from home. We all made sure to socially distance before seeing each other in person. We’ve been keeping to pretty small social circles during the summer, so it was nice to be able to hang out with friends.

To celebrate Vee’s birthday, we visited Grace’s parents in Tubac. We spent a few relaxing days there swimming, looking after newly acquired plants, and making pizza. When we got back to Prescott, Vee planned a socially distanced birthday outing with a larger group of friends. We all brought blankets and masks and shared stories from summer.

Classes are quite a bit different than last year. About half the time, I meet with my class online, and when classes are in-person, we sit at every other chair. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t going to be an odd semester, but I’m really looking forward to my classes. So far, I’m the most excited about my Capstone. Yesterday we were assigned our groups and projects. I’ll be working on Attitude Reaction Wheels. Our group is picking up where a capstone team from last year left off.

At Embry-Riddle in Prescott, an Engineers Capstone project takes two semesters. The first is focused on Preliminary Design and the second is Detail Design. The goal is to have a prototype built by the end of our senior year. It’s still hard for me to believe that I’ve started work on the biggest project of my four years at Embry-Riddle.

Over the last week, I’ve had so many people reach out about my first blog post! I’m happy to see that so many people seem to be excited about it. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences on campus, but I’d also love to hear from you about what you’d like to hear about. Feel free to comment on this blog post with subjects you’d like me to write about!

Arizona Adventures

by Richard Santi

A beautiful Prescott sky during monsoon season!

Hello again!

Prescott is home to one of the most unique cultures in America with old shops, saloons, beautiful trails and outdoor scenery unlike anywhere else. The old west charm and multitude of possible activities make Prescott an ideal place to explore, and a great location to fill your free time with fun adventures. Embry-Riddle truly has a great hometown.

Every once in a while, it can be fun to get out of town and explore the surrounding area, and Prescott lies in the very middle of numerous attractions that make great day or weekend trips. I want to share with you some of my favorites!

Jerome, Arizona

45 Minutes from Campus

Nestled on the side of Mingus Mountain, this old western mining town will bring you back to the prospecting days of the 1800s. Truly what is in my opinion one of the most unique treasures of the West, you can walk the streets totally unaware of what century you are in. It is home to numerous shops and great restaurants and is supposedly one of the most haunted cities in America! You could spend an entire day there, or even just drive in for dinner.

Sedona, Arizona

1 Hour 20 Minutes from Campus

The beautiful red rocks of Sedona make for a fantastic nature trip.

The red rocks of Sedona are probably one of the prettiest sighs you’ll see in the whole country. The unique geological formations are perfect for a cool nature hike, or any other outdoor activity. Everywhere you go, there is not a bad view. You could easily drive over and spend a couple hours taking it all in with your friends. Us pilots are especially lucky as one of our practice areas includes Sedona!

Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona

1 Hour 45 Minutes from Campus

If you are looking for some big-city fun, Scottsdale sits just on the northeast end of Phoenix and is home to fun restaurants, shopping malls, museums, and much more. Embry-Riddle students are incredibly fortunate to go to school in one of the prettiest natural areas of the nation with large mountains, forests, and beautiful prairies. However if you area city person, or are even simply craving a city adventure, America’s largest state capital is just a short journey away from campus.

Payson, Arizona

1 Hour 54 Minutes from Campus

On the ground at the beautiful Payson airport. A perfect destination for pilots.

This one is mostly for the pilots, as it’s a short flight. You could make it there in about 30-45 minutes, and the airport has a fantastic diner! You could rent a plane and easily make the trip with your friends to have a great breakfast while watching planes land. An added bonus is the beautiful forest that surrounds the town.

Grand Canyon National Park

2 Hours from Campus

One of the seven natural wonders of the world is just two hours from campus.

Perhaps one of the most amazing sights you’ll ever see is just a couple hours north of campus. It’s a great location for a day trip with friends, and there is simply nothing like it. Enough said.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona

3 Hours 9 Minutes from Campus

Lake Havasu will give you the feeling that you are on a different planet!

Arizona is a desert state, but if you like water-skiing and other water related activities, there’s all of that and more in Lake Havasu. It is one of the quintessential spring break locations. The town has unique resorts and restaurants, and it is a popular flying destination for pilots.

Tucson, Arizona / Pima Air & Space Museum

3 Hours 18 Minutes from Campus

Some of the world’s coolest airplanes are on display just a few hours south of campus.

If you are looking for a cool aviation-themed getaway, the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson will make a great day or weekend trip. There is a large indoor and outdoor display with some of the industry’s most iconic airplanes.

There are many other locations around Prescott that make great adventures. These are just a few of my personal favorites. In Arizona you can make your own adventures, as every town and every mountain has its own cool charm. Adventure awaits you here at Embry-Riddle!

A Flight Team Saturday: Grading Landings

by Richard Santi

One of the best parts about being on the Flight Team is our landings practice which takes place every Saturday, starting bright and early in the morning! We start the day by driving in a van out to runway 21R at the Prescott Regional Airport. We have special permission from the airport authority to put tape down on the runway and mark our “box.” This is the area we will be trying to land the aircraft. One line stretches across the runway, which is known as the “zero line,” and is the exact point we are trying to have our wheels touch down on. One hundred feet short of this line marks being out of bounds short, and two hundred feet long of this line marks being out of bounds long.  

An airport employee safely escorts us out on to the runway and we place markers along each of these lines plus smaller markers to help us determine the distance between them.

The competition landings event is pretty straightforward. The pilot flies two laps in the pattern making two landings, trying to get the wheels to touch down as close as possible to the zero line. For every foot that the pilot is off the line, that is one point (points are bad)! It is actually split up in to two different events: Power-On and Power-Off landings. They are very similar with one minor difference. In the Power-On event, the pilot initially pulls power, and cannot add any power, but can keep some power in, gradually decreasing it until landing. In the Power-Off event, the pilot must completely pull all power while abeam the touchdown point and cannot add it back in without getting a penalty.

The “Power Off landings more or less mimic the “Power-Off 180” maneuver practiced by commercial pilots.

In addition to making an accurate landing, there is a very long list of potential penalties a pilot can get in the landing event. Some of these penalties have to do with the energy of the aircraft, some have to do with how the pilot flies the traffic pattern, and some have to do with how the pilot actually touches down on the runway. These penalties make the event incredibly challenging and force the pilot to fly very accurately. 

After marking the lines on the runway, we will next bring out our two Cessna 150s, known as “Eagle 1” and “Eagle 2.” Throughout the day we take turns going into the aircraft and flying our respective slots. When we aren’t flying, we stand beside the runway with clipboards grading our teammates. Usually one person films the landing so we can slow the video down, looking exactly where the wheels touched to get an accurate reading. It is hard to see the exact distance with the naked eye, as in one second the airplane travels about 80 feet.

Most of our grading is looking for penalties and marking them on our grade sheets if we see them.

We of course learn a lot about flying by getting practice ourselves in the airplane. Doing competition landings really helps the pilot to get a heightened sense of how accurate his or her flying is. Being even just a little bit sloppy will result in massive points off of penalties and distance. I have to say, however, that spending much of the day watching other people land and seeing the view of a landing aircraft externally can be really helpful. As a pilot, you do all of your flying with an inside view, seeing references based on how the cockpit glareshield looks compared the horizon and reading your instruments. It’s easy to forget how the aircraft is actually flying. 

Standing out on that field by the runway below a beautiful Arizona sky, watching an airplane make its downwind to base turn, and seeing how the wings gracefully glide through the air has given me different perspective on flying. Every control input the pilot makes will not only pitch the airplane up and down, or roll it left or right, but it will change the energy state of the aircraft in a very significant way. I look forward to every Saturday for this reason, wondering what awesome flying experience I will have. 

Spread Your Wings at Embry-Riddle

by Richard Santi

Hi Everyone! My name is Richard Santi and I am currently a Senior at Embry-Riddle in Prescott. I am majoring in Aeronautical Science – Fixed Wing, with a minor in Business Administration. On campus, I am a member of our national championship winning Golden Eagles Flight Team, and work as a Senior Campus Ambassador at our Admissions Office (If you come and visit campus, I might be your tour guide)! 

I am incredibly excited to be sharing a bit about my experience at Embry-Riddle with all of you, and will be writing to you regularly, so be sure to check back! I wanted to start off by introducing myself a bit more and sharing with you my journey to Embry-Riddle. I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in the Chicago area. From a young age, my eyes were always turned skyward, and I could only dream of one day working in the cockpit of an airplane. When I was looking at colleges that had aviation programs, only one stood out to me as the very best. I asked different people who were in the aviation business what school they suggested, and the answer was almost unanimous. “Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.” Without a doubt. 

I have always been a Midwesterner. Most of the landscapes I was used to were farms and skyscrapers. But after all, college is a time for adventure and I was very excited to see a new place for a few years, moving to the beautiful mountains of Arizona. I moved to Prescott in the summer of 2017. I only had about 4 flight hours in my logbook; virtually nothing. No real flight training or formal flight education. Despite this, I flew my very first week here. The first lesson was incredibly simple. How to turn the aircraft left and right using proper rudder coordination. I remember feeling very comfortable, knowing this is what I was meant to do, but I also remember the feeling that I had a long way to go.   

As it turns out, a long way is not so long when you are training at Embry-Riddle. Three more years of flight training and now I am a licensed Commercial Pilot. I have over 270 hours of flight time and have flown in collegiate flying competitions. I have a job offer from a major regional airline and plan on starting flight instructor training soon. I have learned about topics I knew pretty much nothing about before coming to college. Extensive details of aircraft systems, how the stability of the atmosphere affects thunderstorms, the detailed aerodynamics of a tailspin… All topics I had literally zero understanding of prior to coming to Embry-Riddle. All of this was done while simultaneously earning a college degree.

The reason I am mentioning all of this is that I wanted to let you all know that as I post my future blogs, I will be explaining in detail all of my cool experiences at Embry-Riddle, whether it is going through flight training, being on the flight team, or hanging out with friends and enjoying all of the awesome scenery that Prescott has to offer. But really, the main point I would like you to take away from my experience is that whatever you do here, you will learn way more than you thought possible. You will gain way more skills than you thought possible, and you will become someone ready to succeed in whatever field you go into. You will do all of it while having a blast! 

I look forward to sharing more with you!

My Summer Internship with The Boeing Company

by Dai Ibrahim

This summer I had the opportunity to work at The Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington. As an Embry-Riddle Software Engineering Student, I was a part of the cyber security product development team. I quickly found out that ERAU students’ reputation precedes us. When I told my co-workers that I attend ERAU, they all praised the university and the students. My team especially loved ERAU because of our manager, Sheila B. Reilley. I had the pleasure to work with Sheila before she retired after 30+ years at Boeing. I will forever be grateful to Sheila for giving me the opportunity to work with her team this summer.

The Boeing sign at the 40-88 building in Everett, WA.

I worked with two different groups within the team over the 12 weeks I was there. At first, I worked for autonomous systems. Within autonomous systems, I worked with my team lead, ERAU Alum Alan Tomaszycki, and the College of Security and Intelligence on developing a multi-discipline capstone project. I was also able to contribute to a patent that is in the process of getting approved.

The space needle park in Seattle, WA.

After that project was complete, I went on to work with the rest of the team in Seattle where I worked on front-end development which is what I am really interested in. I was put on a team developing a front-end for airplane log data that was in JSON format. I was assigned to work with one other intern on the front end while two interns worked on the back end of parsing the logs. My partner and I started by getting requirements from the members of the team that were going to be the primary users. After gathering the requirements, we started by experimenting with the designs and making wireframes and screen-flows that imitated what we wanted the displays to look like and satisfied the requirements.  When the basic design process was done, we started working on use case scenarios. We came up with six different scenarios for how the displays could be used. We then revisited our designs, and we altered them so they would better reflect the scenarios. The software engineering courses that I took over the past three years have prepared me for the real-world applications of the engineering process.

Cold War’s B-47 Stratojet in the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA.

We had weekly meetings with the team and the project leader to go over our designs to ensure that they aligned with the needs of the team. After we got the okay on our designs, the next step which I was in charge of was implementation. I got the data that the back-end team produced, and I used python and TKinter to make the front-end piece. Programming the display was the easiest and most enjoyable part for me. I requested a code review with some of my coworker to get feedback on my program, and I got lots of comments praising my code. My coworkers pointed out that they can tell that I am a software engineering major and not CS like most of the interns because of how maintainable and well written my code was, and how well I documented it. During this whole process, I discovered that the ERAU software engineering classes have equipped me with all the skills and the knowledge that I need in the field and the ability to adapt to new challenges. I was more knowledgeable about the software engineering process that most interns, and I owe it to the SE professors who prepared me to make it all possible.

SR-71 Blackbird in the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA.

I learned so much from my team over the 12 weeks. Most importantly, I learned about the software engineering process for front-end development. I am now certain that I want to pursue front-end development as a full-time career. I was given a return offer to Boeing for an internship next summer with the same team on my last day. I had a blast working with my team this summer, and I can’t wait to see what I will be working on next summer.

The annual Embry-Riddle/Boeing partnership summit at the Boeing Flight Test & Delivery Center in Seattle, WA.

Research Opportunity for Undergraduates in Autonomous Vehicles

by Andrea Gray

This past summer I was privileged to work as an undergraduate on a National Science Foundation funded research project at Wright State University. This research program was focused on autonomous vehicles and split up the 11 participants into 4 separate teams working on specific research and development projects under the general topic of autonomous vehicles.

I was on a team with another undergraduate student studying Electrical Engineering working on developing a forward collision detection and avoidance system in autonomous ground vehicles using LiDAR and IBM’s 90nm CMOS technology. As a Software Engineering student, the focus of circuit creation and design was not something I was familiar with, but luckily, I had a wonderful teammate and supervisor, along with the experiences I have had at Embry-Riddle, I was able to learn and be successful in my work.

LiDAR is growing in popularity with autonomous ground vehicles due to their ability to function in adverse weather conditions (comparative to a camera) and their recent decrease in cost. The 90nm CMOS, Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor, is being used along with the LiDAR because it is a low-power and low-space solution that can also produce the necessary performance needed to make rapid decisions for the system. This LiDAR system, being low-energy and high-performance, is a development that is highly valued in the autonomous ground vehicle field. While there are many teams performing research and development for systems such as this one, there is no system that has been adopted by commercial or professional companies as there is still a lot to be perfected in the systems and costs can still be too high. This is where our research shows its value, since LiDAR is rapidly dropping in price and our system is based on dependability, our final design and report should be very useful for others in the field after presented at a technical conference at the end of this year.

For the development of this system, we first designed the basic circuitry logic in MATLAB. This process was where I was able to take the lead from my previous MATLAB and Simulink experience and develop a basic functional forward collision detection and prevention system. From there, we exported the circuit into a software platform called Cadence. Cadence allows for circuit development that meets the specific specifications and functionalities of particular technologies per their manufacturer’s specifications. My teammate, being familiar with Cadence, took over the circuitry design while I did more research on issues that would need to be mitigated with LiDAR systems such as the detection of the return LiDAR pulse off of obstacles with poor reflectivity rates (i.e. matte black bar bumpers). My teammate navigated the complex Cadence design process, with my research inputs, and we were able to successfully create our final circuitry system for a forward collision detection and prevention system for an autonomous ground vehicle.

By the end of the 3 months, I had gained a large understanding of autonomous ground vehicles, their history, and their future. I produced a background report, multiple progress reports on the technology we designed with their setbacks and future plans, and I am currently working on the final report of the project, along with my teammate, which is planned to be published into a conference by the end of the year. Along with knowledge gained on the topic, I learned an immense amount about perfecting my time management skills, my teamwork abilities, and, a vital skill for engineers, the ability to create a professional technical report that is well-organized and well-written all while being completed under a strict time constraint. I am very grateful for not only this experience, but also for the knowledge gained during it and the knowledge I was able to utilize from my academic career at Embry-Riddle.

Software Engineering Internship with BendixKing

This past summer I had an internship with BendixKing. To Embry-Riddle students, the name might sound familiar as our King building is named after King Engineering which merged with Bendix a while back. Fun fact: they actually have a picture of the King building hanging up in their lobby.

King Engineering, Prescott Campus

King Engineering, Prescott Campus

At the internship the environment was friendly and within my first week I felt like I had been there forever. My boss told me multiple times ‘we will treat you like a real engineer only we pay you less and you might need help sometimes’.

Now at first this sounds scary and leading up to the internship I was worried that I would not do well; although after that first week I was not worried to fail. Everyone was willing to help me or point me in the direction of someone who could.

Honeywell is BendixKing’s overarching parent company and they are the ones that hosted the interns; which means there were a lot of activities and lessons that they put on for us. One that especially helped me was these online seminars where they talked about all aspects of aviation. We were able tour the Honeywell facilities and get a background into what all they do. Honeywell likes to keep their interns as long as they do well over the summer.

On my last day before I left my internship I was offered a position to return to BendixKing. I will be returning to Albuquerque NM to work for BendixKing as a software engineer. The lessons and methods that I have been taught at Embry-Riddle helped me; the ‘learning how to learn’. I was only able to accomplish this because of what I have learned at Embry-Riddle and through the great connections that they have.