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New Mexico State University

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Northrop Grumman funds NMSU research design project

New Mexico State University's College of Engineering has received a $25,000 grant from Northrop Grumman Corp. to support a research design project focused on "see-and-avoid" navigation and guidance technologies used by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).



At check presentation, left to right, are Carl Johnson, sector vice president and president for Northrop Grumman International Inc.; Won-Zon Chen, technical fellow in vehicle systems/subsystems design and integration for Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems; Ram Prasad, associate professor in the NMSU Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Joseph Hardin, senior in the Klipsch School; and Jason King, graduate student in the Klipsch School. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector, a national leader in UAVs, provided the grant as part of its on-going effort to identify and capitalize on innovations and emerging technologies that can increase the capabilities of UAVs.

Dean of Engineering Steve Castillo and Ram Prasad, associate professor in the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, accepted a check for the Wide Area "See and Avoid" Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Navigation and Guidance grant on behalf of the school at a brief ceremony earlier this month. Prasad, the principal investigator on the project, is also the director of The Rio Grande Institute for Soft Computing (RioSoft) and RioRoboLab, an advanced robotics laboratory at NMSU.

"This grant will enable my students to be exposed to cutting-edge technologies that could have a significant impact on national security," said Prasad. "Through this partnership with Northrop Grumman, they will be given opportunities that are often reserved for highly competitive robotics programs offered at Stanford and MIT."

Prasad and the RioRoboLab have previously been involved in designing a helicopter that could fly on its own when given instructions. The new grant will allow Prasad and his students to investigate how to make the helicopter navigate from point to point while avoiding collision with other objects.

"Northrop Grumman's goal for providing this grant is to encourage research in the field of UAVs, with a particular emphasis on flight testing of technologies on UAV platforms within the protected airspace of NMSU's Physical Science Laboratory," said Carl Johnson, sector vice president and president for Northrop Grumman International Inc. Johnson is also a member of the Dean of the College of Engineering Advisory Board at NMSU.

"Northrop Grumman's involvement with academia is vital to promote the awareness and needs for emerging technologies critical to the practical realization of UAVs operating in the national air space," said Won-Zon Chen, technical fellow in vehicle systems/subsystems design and integration for Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems.

"The company has placed a high priority on developing autonomous control technologies for its future UAV products," Chen said. "This new partnership with NMSU will result in opportunities for the development, integration, and test of new autonomy capabilities for both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft."

Northrop Grumman Corp., a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With more than 120,000 employees, and operations in all 50 states and 29 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.

For more information contact Prasad at (505) 646-3623.