December 18, 2020

photo of maruthi akellaMaruthi Akella, a professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics, is the winner of the 2020 Award for Technical Excellence in Aerospace Control. The award is given annually by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Control Systems Society (CSS) to a person or team that has demonstrated technical excellence in the area of aerospace control engineering during the previous 36 months. Akella was selected “for significant contributions to learning and adaptive control for aerospace applications.”

Akella, who recently founded UT Austin’s Center for Autonomous Air Mobility (CAAM) and directs the Controls Group for Distributed and Uncertain Systems (C-DUS), specializes in the control of complex dynamical systems that are subject to large scale nonlinearities and uncertainties.

His current research involves the investigation of control theory and validation of complex engineered dynamical systems such as autonomous space vehicles and mobile robots; flow-control systems for high-speed and hypersonic vehicles; miniature robots navigating inside GPS denied environments; uncertainty quantification; and cooperative control and collaborative sensing problems in swarm robots. His theoretical contributions have found several highly successful applications in astrodynamics and in the control of space systems and vision-guided robotics.

“The news of this award is exciting, and I express my sincere gratitude to the IEEE Control Systems Society. I am honored and humbled for this recognition and to join the distinguished list of past recipients of this award,” said Akella. “It has been my great fortune to be part of the excellent academic culture offered by UT Austin for more than 20 years. Beyond the individual recognition, I thank my amazing students (both current and former), colleagues and external research collaborators with whom I spent countless hours of work and enjoyment!” 

Akella serves as the editor-in-chief for the Journal of Astronautical Sciences. He is an IEEE distinguished lecturer, fellow of the American Astronautical Society (AAS) and an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics (AIAA). He has received several prestigious awards for his far-reaching theoretical contributions and practical advances in aircraft/spacecraft guidance, navigation and control including the Judith A. Resnik Space Award from the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society and the Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society Mechanics and Control of Flight Award from the AIAA. He holds the Ashley H. Priddy Centennial Professorship in Engineering.

The award was presented to Akella at the virtual CSS Awards Ceremony on Dec. 18 at the 2020 IEEE Conference on Decision and Control.