Siddarth Kaki portrait

Aerospace engineering graduate student Siddarth Kaki was selected by Aviation Week Network and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for its prestigious award program, “Tomorrow’s Technology Leaders: The 20 Twenties.”

Universities nominate students based on their research or design project, academic performance, and civic contribution. Only twenty students from across the globe are selected for the award, which is part of an “over-arching effort to bring together technology hiring managers, students and faculty to recognize the full circle of what is required for business and academic success,” according to the Aviation Week Network.

Kaki, a first-year graduate student who is pursuing both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering at UT Austin, was selected for his research project based on his NSF Graduate Research Fellowship proposal on inspection and monitoring of large monolithic spacecraft with an autonomous swarm of nanosats. Kaki’s research advisor, Maruthi Akella, a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, nominated Kaki for the award.

According to Kaki, his research aims to develop a system that autonomously coordinates multiple robotic agents with potentially different individual capabilities to perform a larger coordinated task.

“Such work could bolster space exploration, both manned and robotic,” said Kaki. “Applications could also include coordinating a swarm of UAVs to perform search-and-rescue operations during disaster relief.”

When asked about what he enjoys most about his current research focus, Kaki replied, “The work will better equip us for and facilitate future human exploration of space. Humans aren’t designed or meant to live and survive in space, for obvious reasons. It is the technology we develop that allows us to do more than we could otherwise, both in space applications and here on Earth for day-to-day life.”

Kaki performs his research in the Controls Lab for Distributed and Uncertain Systems under Akella’s leadership.