A $5 million grant from the U.S. Air Force will fund a research team led by North Carolina A&T State University that will develop control systems for a new dimension in battlefield strategy: large teams of unmanned vehicles.
The five-year project will expand the use of autonomous vehicles, such as drones, to a larger and more diverse scale.
The vision is to manage future battlefields with autonomous vehicles working together in the air, on the ground and/or underwater. The vehicles could be controlled remotely by human operators or they could maneuver autonomously in complex environments. Teams of autonomous vehicles working in concert with soldiers, sailors and fliers would be capable of a variety of cooperative missions, such as surveillance and reconnaissance.
“The concept of systems of vehicles is new,” says Dr. Abdollah Homaifar, Duke Energy Eminent Professor of computer engineering at N.C. A&T and leader of the project. “It’s about teaming and cooperation among the autonomous vehicles.
“Teams of these vehicles could provide an advantage on the battlefield, but we need to learn how to move beyond controlling, for example, one drone at a time, and how they can work together. These are complex systems that will operate together in extreme conditions.”
Reflecting its commitment to collaboration with other universities and the Greensboro community, North Carolina A&T joined with its academic and local government partners today in a groundbreaking at the Union Square Campus in downtown Greensboro.
Union Square’s first phase will be devoted to nursing and other health care professions.
A&T will locate its highly successful accelerated degree program in nursing and its RN-to-BSN program there.
Co-located with the A&T programs will be nursing programs from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Guilford Technical Community College and Cone Health. By housing the programs together, the four institutions can share lab space and equipment with significant cost savings.
“N.C. A&T was established in 1891 to prepare students for the careers of the modern day and the future,” Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. said at the event. “More than 124 years later, A&T is holding fast to that principle, and that is why our participation in this initiative is imperative.”
Union Square is the latest of A&T’s collaborations with other Greensboro-area institutions, UNCG in particular. A&T and UNCG created the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, a graduate-level education and research institution. The two universities also created and operate the Gateway University Research Park. A&T and UNCG offer a joint master’s degree program in social work as well.
N.C. A&T is among more than 120 U.S. engineering schools leading a transformative movement in engineering education announced at the White House today.
The schools will establish special educational programs designed to prepare undergraduates to solve “Grand Challenges”—complex yet achievable goals to improve national and international health, security, sustainability and quality of life in the 21st century. Together, the schools plan to graduate more than 20,000 formally recognized “Grand Challenge Engineers” over the next decade.
The College of Engineering at N.C. A&T will graduate engineers in accordance with the National Academy of Engineering’s vision for ensuring a competitive engineering workforce ready to create solutions to the complex challenges of the present and the future. The Grand Challenges Engineers Program will emphasize expertise in entrepreneurship and innovation; global and cross-cultural perspectives, and social consciousness with exposure and experience in other areas as specified in the deans’ letter to President Barack Obama.
“For the College of Engineering at N.C. A&T, the decision to participate in this initiative was any easy one for our leadership team since the elements central to preparing Grand Challenge Engineers align strongly with our strategic agenda,” said Dr. Robin Coger, dean of the College of Engineering.
“A&T’s engineering and computer science students have consistently built competitive portfolios in preparing for their professional careers. The GCEP at N.C. A&T is a logical ‘next step’ because it links that tradition with a nationwide framework.”
The Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies has outgrown its lab, so it will lease additional space at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. Its staff has grown to 40 researchers and support personnel, and its original 5,800 square foot facility is no longer adequate to provide space for all of its research.
From the Triad Business Journal:
“N.C. A&T State University is expanding its presence at the N.C. Research Campus, the Kannapolis park that’s home to researchers from a multitude of the state’s colleges and universities.
“The park is home to N.C. A&T’s Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, which studies ways to process fruits and vegetables after they are harvested. The goal is to find ways to make food safer, extend shelf life and preserve health-promoting nutrients. …
“‘We tie all of this research together and how it impacts our nutrition from every angle, from looking at how a diet rich in phytochemicals impacts our metabolism and our gut microflora, and how it impacts specific genes related to chronic disease,'” said Leonard Williams, director of the N.C. A&T center. “‘Our new lab will allow us to be able to do that research better.'”
Dr. Fatemeh Afghah
A new chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) has been established in the Piedmont Triad, led by Dr. Fatemeh Afghah, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina A&T State University.
The new group is a joint chapter of the IEEE Communications Society and IEEE Signal Processing for the Central North Carolina Section.
IEEE is the world’s largest association of technical professionals for the advancement of technology with more than 400,000 worldwide. The Central North Carolina section covers the Piedmont Triad area, including Greensboro, High Point and Burlington.
As a part of the chapter’s activities, leaders in communications and signal processing societies will be invited to present recent advances in communication and signal processing technologies to students, electrical engineers and professional members in the Piedmont Triad area. The chapter will receive up to $7,000 and support from IEEE to organize technical and professional lectures.
To become a member or to learn more about chapter activities, contact Afghah or go to http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r3/cnc/index.html.
Dr. Gregory Goins
Dr. Gregory Goins, associate professor of biology at North Carolina A&T State University, has been named a White House Champion of Change.
He is one of 11 faculty and staff members from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) who will be honored in Washington today for effectively promoting college completion and student success at HBCUs.
Goins organized the Integrative Biomathematical Learning and Empowerment Network for Diversity (iBLEND) program at N.C. A&T. iBLEND represents a partnership between faculty mentors from various science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines working together to retain undergraduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
In addition, iBLEND mentors help students prepare for future post-graduate opportunities and careers primarily at the interface between biology and mathematics. Since 2010, over 100 undergraduates from North Carolina A&T State University have completed research internships collaborating with iBLEND.