SRP Week 1

Blog 1: Week of 6/8/18

My name is Andrew Brown. I am an undergraduate physics student at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, and someday I hope to earn a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. I have been blessed to be one of five students who were given the opportunity to work in the NIMBUS lab here at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. NIMBUS stands for Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems Lab. In other words, NIMBUS is a drone lab. For a more in-depth knowledge of the lab, look up the word “awesome” in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

Four of the five of us undergraduates are a part of the Nebraska SRP (Summer Research Program) for undergrads. On Monday through Thursday of this week the SRP program provided introductory seminars for the SRP students to on attend. These seminars included a graduate student panel Q and A session, a discussion on financial planning, and a discussion on inclusion and diversity. Each day the SRP activities ran from morning until lunch. In the afternoons we were released to go work in our labs.

In the NIMBUS lab, the week began with two requirements: build a drone and learn how to fly one. This made me very happy to say the least. The drones we built are flamewheel f450s controlled by pixhawk flight computers. Day one consisted of a general introduction to the lab and to our projects from AJ and Dr. Duncan and then of soldering lessons from Jacob. Day two we soldered the different drone components onto the contacts of the baseplate of the drones and then assembled the drones. With Shannon’s help, I downloaded VirtualBox onto my computer and began trying to download Ubuntu into the VirtualBox. This was a long, frustrating process that involved trying to locate the seemingly non-existent boot menu on Windows 10.

AJ came to the rescue on Wednesday by finding the boot menu and I spent the rest of the day downloading ROS. On Thursday, I spent the majority of the day learning ROS, AJ introduced us to a very helpful book called “A Gentle Introduction to  ,” and I spent small portion of the day flying. I decided to stay a bit late in order to fly and ended up staying for a number of hours listening to AJ, Carl, and Ashraful (I hope I spelled that right) geek out about the various projects in the lab. It was absolutely fascinating. Today, Friday, we get a full day in the lab because there is no morning program for the general SRP group. I hope to make meaningful progress on ROS today and also to spend a solid amount of time flying. Hopefully, I will meet with my adviser, Dr. Bradley, on Monday and begin working with the CubeSat. Liam says that this will involve a lot of C, which will be a steep learning curve for me, I but I am really looking forward to it.

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