November 24, 2009

On Nov. 11, 2009, Lockheed Martin presented a check to The University of Texas at Austin in the amount of $95,390, of which $50,000 will support two UT aerospace engineering student projects: the Small Autonomous Rover and the Longhorn Rocket Association. These projects provide critical hands-on experience for aerospace students as they apply classroom theory to real-world challenges. The department deeply appreciates Lockheed Martin’s continued support.

The Horizon Rover Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle project, advised by Professor Robert H. Bishop, has been under development for several years by undergraduate and graduate ASE/EM students. The objective is to develop autonomous obstacle avoidance technologies applicable to a wide range of vehicles types, from autonomous planetary surface rovers to UAS. The UT rover technology is now in its second generation with plans to improve the overall design in a third generation. Key technologies of the current generation include optimal path planning, dynamic obstacle avoidance and trajectory management. The Horizon Rover capabilities are being expanded to surface celestial navigation by fusing heterogeneous sensors suite including a star tracker, LIDAR imager, inertial measurement unit, GPS (for Earth applications), and a variety of sensors for measurement for sensing wheel velocities and heading.

The Longhorn Rocket Association (LRA), currently advised by Professor Charles Tinney, was founded in Fall 2007. In the early years of its inception, LRA members spent most of their time building hobby rockets from kits. Since then, students have become exposed to the design process and are participating in research about materials, aerodynamics, and building methods. Students are also being introduced to engineering skills such as performing trade studies and writing technical proposals. In the Spring of 2009 the LRA reached a new milestone when members designed and built two high powered amateur rockets. Their next goal is to design a rocket expected to reach an altitude of 100,000 ft (19-20 miles). The hope is that in future years the LRA will be able to collaborate with other aerospace groups like the Texas Spacecraft Lab (TSL) and carry payloads such as the picosatellites being built in the TSL.

To learn more about the aerospace student projects and/or to support our teams, please contact Bliss Angerman at

group posing with large check from Lockheed Martin

Above: Above: John Butler, Dan Crowley and Art McAnarney of Lockheed Martin presented the check. John Butler ’74 (BS Chemistry) is Vice President of Programs and Senior Naval Advisor at Lockheed Martin. Dan Crowley ’85 (BS Mechanical Engineering, ’91 MS Manufacturing Systems) is Executive Vice President of the Joint Strike Fighter Program. Art McAnarney is the College Relations Representative for Lockheed Martin.

Present to accept the check were ASE/EM Chairman and Professor, Philip L. Varghese, ASE/EM Professor and former department chairman, Professor Robert H. Bishop, and ASE/EM Professor Charles Tinney. The remainder of Lockheed’s gift benefits a computer lab in the College of Natural Sciences, and was accepted by Dean Mary Ann Rankin.

Horizon Rover graduate students present for the check presentation were Hector Escobar and Ana Guerrero. LRA students in attendance included: Stephen Seegmiller, President; Ryan Mire, Vice President; Jason Kish, Secretary; Shaina Shapiro, Treasurer; Jacob Rendon, Historian; Dan Oropeza, Assistant Vice President; Alexis Avram, Assistant Secretary; Pascual Mauricio, Assistant Treasurer; Rebekah Sosland, Member.

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Warm greetings from W.R. Woolrich Laboratories! When I stepped in as the new chair of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, it did not take me long to realize that alumni play a critical role in maintaining the excellence of our department and I am most grateful for this support.

With state tax dollars covering only 17 percent of the Cockrell School’s annual budget, alumni support is more important than ever. That is why I am asking our alumni to meet the challenge of moving from 8 percent alumni giving in 2009 to 10 percent in 2010! And although I am not an alum, I have made my own gift to launch this campaign.

Gifts from alumni fund project-based learning that gives students hands-on experience in applying classroom theory to solve real-world challenges. Each week students come to my office asking for funding for their innovative projects. Below are a few of their requests — requests that will be difficult for me to grant without greater alumni support.

• Women in Aerospace Leadership Development (WIALD) needs funding to design and launch a research package (including a camera, altimeter and transducer) that will launch aboard Fredericksburg High School’s Red-Bird-12 ballistic/hybrid rocket. The members of WIALD are committed to recruiting more women into aerospace engineering, and believe interacting with high school students is a first step.

The Longhorn Rocket Association needs additional funding to design and launch a rocket to break the space barrier (100,000 feet or 19-20 miles). Once the students reach that milestone, their next goal is to carry a payload, such as the picosatellites students are building in the Texas Spacecraft Lab (TSL). Compact, lightweight and relatively inexpensive, picosatellites are a wonderful way to introduce students to the real-world problems associated with building flight-capable hardware.

The stated goals of these projects are just the beginning. Our ultimate goal is to create engineering leaders who will make a difference in the world.

lra group posing in front of horse statue on UT campus in 2010

Members of the Longhorn Rocket Association

Future leaders like Alexis Avram benefited from Professor Cesar Ocampo’s outreach as a high school student and she began studying orbital mechanics, electrodynamics, and momentum exchange tethers. Alexis is now an aerospace engineering sophomore and an active member of the Longhorn Rocket Association. She is also planning an internship at NASA — you can read more about Alexis here.

If 200 ASE/EM alumni each donate $1,000 this year, we can fund our current student projects and know we have the funds to launch next year with real momentum. To demonstrate our personal commitment my wife Mae and I have donated $1,000, and I invite you to join with us to contribute at the most generous level possible. Remember that every gift, no matter its size, makes a real difference during these tough economic times. Our goal is 10% participation in 2010! Won’t you join us?

Best wishes,

 varghese signature

Philip L. Varghese
Distinguished Teaching
Professor & Chair

February 2, 2010

Professor Raynor L. Duncombe was elected Fellow of the Institution of Navigation (ION) “for his involvement in developing the initial methods for tracking the first artificial satellites, and for his leadership in the production of almanacs and the development of the new celestial reference system in the 1970s, and for his contributions in the founding of the International Association of Institutes of Navigation.”

Election to fellow membership of ION recognizes the distinguished contributions to the advancement of the technology, management, practice and teaching of the arts and sciences of navigation; and/or lifetime contributions to The Institution.

From 1950 until 1975, Dr. Duncombe worked in the Nautical Almanac Office of the US Naval Observatory and was director of the same from 1963-1975. He was an early member of the ION and held many offices, including president.

Dr. Duncombe’s research interests include astrometry from space, space reference frames and motions of principal planets and minor planets. He specializes in orbital mechanics and dynamical astronomy.

He has served on the Cockrell School of Engineering faculty since 1976. He has 33 years of industrial experience, has published more than 200 technical articles and reports and has authored or edited five books. Professor Duncombe currently teaches the graduate course “Determination of Time”.



November 9, 2009

Aerospace engineering professor Ivo Babuska, has been named honorary member of the Czech Society for Mechanics. Babuska was recognized for his “distinctive contributions to engineering, science, research and other pursuits allied with and beneficial to the cooperation between scientific institutions and universities throughout the world.” The society also acknowledged his unique role in the education and encouragement of a new generation of scientists, and his long-term, active support of the society’s activities.

Babuska holds the Robert B. Trull Chair in Engineering.

March 1, 2010

Professor David G. Hull has been selected as an Editor-in-Chief of the “Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications”, a Springer journal that has been in existence since 1967. The journal publishes papers covering mathematical optimization techniques and their applications to science and engineering.

Dr. Hull’s research focuses on the application of flight mechanics and optimization to the determination of optimal trajectories and optimal guidance laws for aerospace vehicles. He holds the M. J. Thompson Regents Professorship.



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