All About Classes

by Richard Santi

Embry-Riddle of course has exceptional flight training, a beautiful campus, and lots of fun activities available in and around the Prescott area. But what about the classes?

In high school I was not by any means the type of student that absolutely loved going to class. I wasn’t a bad student but can remember spending a lot of time watching the clock and waiting for the bell to ring.

Aeronautical Science students use flight simulation software to learn advanced jet systems, including programming a FMS computer like the one pictured in the top left of the screen.

Things changed after my first couple days at Embry-Riddle. Suddenly class became not only really interesting but incredibly fun! As an Aeronautical Science student with a Business Administration minor, I have gotten the chance to learn a lot of genuinely intriguing topics in the classroom taught by some absolutely brilliant professors who carry a wide range of industry experience. I went from looking at the clock waiting to leave, to looking at the clock not wanting to run out of time. In the Embry-Riddle classroom, I can say with certainty pretty much all of my professors have been kind and understanding, have had a strong desire to help students succeed. The best of all is that they come from a lot of diverse backgrounds with a ton of industry experience.

Our 1/2 scale model of the Wright Flyer hangs proudly in the lobby of our Academic Complex 1 which was completed in 2003, the centennial anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ pioneering flight.

The fact that a professor has experience in the industry is not something I thought too much about prior to coming to college, but I can say it is the principal thing that have made classes enjoyable for me. Getting to hear a presentation made by a retired military or airline pilot about the aircraft they flew and the experiences they had or listening to an interesting business lecture from someone who held a real-world management position at one of the world’s largest corporations are experiences that I have had and greatly cherish. It makes the classroom feel a thousand times more interesting.

Our new STEM Education Center features both an R-22 Helicopter given to us by universal Helicopters and a King Air propeller given to us by Raisbeck Engineering.

Lastly, one of the great parts of going to class in my mind is the manageable classroom sizes. The largest class I have ever had at Embry-Riddle had somewhere near 40 people in it, and I have only ever needed to take a couple of those. That is nothing like the 300-person lecture halls I had worried about when coming to college. Our average class size is around 25, but I can tell you that there are many classes you will have much smaller than that. I have had numerous labs and other classes that seated around 9 or 10 people. For me, this really was the way to learn. I like to be a part of the class, raising my hand often and having a professor who knows my name and respects me as a student, not just be a number in a large crowd.

College brings with it a lot of cool experiences. You will have a lot of fun at Embry-Riddle doing a lot of activities outside of the classroom. Like with any college, however, there will be a part of your day that will be spent in class. Why not attend college at a place where the classes are genuinely fun and interesting?

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.

ERAU Students Perform at Chinese New Year Celebration

Happy Chinese New Year, Year of the Pig, from ERAU’s Chinese Program! The date this year is Feb. 5th.

On January 26th, ERAU’s Chinese program, Choirs, and Project Pengyou Eagle Chapter successfully co-organized and performed at the Chinese New Year Gala at the Chandler Center for the Arts. This is the 3rd year in row ERAU presented at the biggest celebration show organized by Eastern Arts Academy for traditional Lunar New Year in the Phoenix and Chandler area. Arizona Senator John Kavanagh, Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke, a Representative from the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles, and our own Vice Chancellor Dr. Rhonda Capron attended the event. In addition to over 40 ERAU students, around 20 ERAU student parents, relatives, and Prescott community members were also in attendance.

Sixteen students in Dr. Hong Zhan’s classes and three students from the ERAU Choirs presented a fabulous show. In front of 1,500 people, Ben Robinson, a student in Dr. Zhan’s literature class led a recitation of contemporary poetry, entitled Nostalgia, followed by a very famous Chinese song: Admiring the Ocean. The song was led by three ERAU Choir singers: Rachael Bradshaw, Hannah Bryner, and Rebekah Bryner. Our students’ performance and their high level of Chinese proficiency were highly praised by the show directors and audience members. As one director commented, “when listening to ERAU students reciting poetry, I could not tell that they have foreigner’s accent in their pronunciation.”

Our students had great time at the event, starting with authentic Chinese food supported by Project Pengyou Eagle Chapter. Students enjoyed the Chinese performing arts, and appreciated the opportunity to see how Chinese people organize an event and communicate in real life. This event helped them understand the foundations of Chinese culture.

Thank you to Dr. Matt Haslam, the HU/COM department chair, for supporting transportation to the event. Many thanks to the Project Pengyou Eagle Chapter for providing the funding that allowed students to enjoy authentic Chinese food.

Thanks to Mr. Johnathan McNeely, ERAU Music Coordinator, for directing the song.

Last, but not least, thanks to Dr. Rhonda Capron, our own Vice Chancellor, for attending the event to support our students on site.

Photos provided by engineering student Ken Crawford (a GSIS/Chinese student), Mark Dehoff, and others.

Cyber Defense Club Shines at Department of Energy’s Cyberforce Competition

Embry-Riddle Cyber Defense Club

ERAU’s Cyber Defense Club places 34th out of 80 teams for the Cyberforce competition, the team scored full red team points at half-time and was a favorite team at Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Cyber Defense Club sent 6 members to compete in the Department of Energy’s Cyberforce Competition.

The team was given 2 weeks to prepare a website, mail server, create users, patch vulnerabilities and secure 5 Virtual Machines that were given to them. They had to make the systems usable and work with a miniature oil pump and a raspberry pi cluster made of 4 raspberry pi computers that were given to them the day of the competition.

The team was the only team out of 4 competing teams at Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory that had the Human-Machine Interface, the raspberry pi cluster and the oil pump successfully operating.

Professor Jesse Laeuchli helped the students prepare and attended the competition for assistance with setup for the Raspberry Pi Cluster and the Oil Pump.

The students that helped prepare and compete were:

  • Michaela Adams
  • Dani Chappelle
  • Jacob Henry
  • Andrew Recker
  • Alan Tomaszycki
  • Jessica Wilson

The students acted as a Blue Team and was able to make a working machine for the users of the laboratory, and successfully defend against a red-team of hackers who were attempting to breach the system.

They also got to tour the laboratory and see the full-scale super computer that their miniature Raspberry Pi cluster was modeled after, meet members of the Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory and meet school members from UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara.

The students were given their oil pump and raspberry pi cluster to take home and use to help teach other members of the club and prepare for next years’ competition.

Out of the 4 teams attending Lawrence-Berkeley, the team placed 3/4 teams and nationally they placed 34/80 teams.

Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy debriefed all teams competing in the competition to help show the importance of cybersecurity in our nation and how jobs in cybersecurity are the most-needed job in America right now.

The cyberforce competition is run yearly, and this was Embry-Riddle and the Cyber Defense Clubs’ first attendance of the competition.

For more information, please visit https://cyberforcecompetition.com/