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National Drone Safety Awareness Event

The week of Nov 4-10, 2019 is National Drone Safety Awareness week. We push the envelope in our UAS research in order to make advancements for the public good. BUT, it has to be done safely, something we take very seriously. Monday, Nov 4, 2019 at 12:00 in the Schorr Center conference room NIMBUS will hold an event “Ensuring Public Safety When Pushing the UAS Flight Envelope” going over safety documentation from the FAA, showing videos on what NOT to do, and reviewing and updating our own safety materials and processes. Please come by and visit the lab to learn more about drone safety and get tips on how to be safe while conducting drone research.

We’re VERY proud of our safety record in NIMBUS over the past decade of research. We do push boundaries, try new things, and encounter numerous failures. But with the help of the FAA, UNL, and a strong internal safety culture we’ve had very few incidents.

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Week 10


This past week was the final week of our REU program. On Monday I submitted the rough draft of my final project report. On Tuesday we had a practice poster session with a few other REU groups and then Wednesday afternoon it was time for the real thing. Overall, I thought the poster session went pretty well and luckily I didn’t get as nervous as I was expecting to. Afterwards, Alex and I received a farewell gift and some final words of wisdom from Ajay and Ashraful. The banquet and the rest of our final day in Lincoln was nice, but it was also hard saying goodbye to everyone. It feels like I’ve known everyone a lot longer than the two months we’ve been here. I’ve had a great summer in Lincoln and have learned a lot including ROS, coding Arduinos, 3-D printing, LaTex, and a bit about building circuits. I was sad to leave Lincoln and UNL, but I am definitely hoping to be accepted for graduate school here in two years so maybe I’ll be back someday. For now, I plan to spend the next two weeks enjoying some free time before school begins and finishing the final draft of my project report. 

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Week Ten

Becoming a pilot may be one of the coolest things someone can do. I recently learned that some of our lab directors are also pilots and fly aircraft locally in Lincoln fairly often. While I already thought they were cool, the overall cool-factor certainly spike a bit. While I can’t fly planes (yet), this week I passed the FAA Part 107 Drone Pilot test! Early in the semester, the lab offered to fund our test and a group of us can now call ourselves certified drone pilots. This means that we can legally operate small UAVs in an official capacity. Studying for the test was actually super interesting because I learned a lot about airspace regulations, something I knew nothing about prior to entering the program. While this was a great way to start our week, there were certainly many bittersweet moments toward the end. 


I learned so much this summer. I worked with Robot Operating System (ROS), learned Python, explored neural networks, and dove into a huge data set. I also learned so many important pieces of the research process, from writing effective papers to understanding how research is funded. But for me, I think the relationships I developed will be the thing I value most. Our cohort was eleven people from all over the country (and the world!). While the majority of us studied computer science, we also had people from multiple engineering disciplines and even psychology. We worked really well together and I think our diverse backgrounds helped us to that end. I also appreciate the relationships I developed with my graduate student mentors and faculty advisors. From navigating graduate school to identifying impactful research topics, my mentors have helped me imagine my own future in research. 

Thursday was our final day in the SRP program (I’m currently writing from Philadelphia!) and it was certainly an exciting day. We began in the morning with our culminating research symposium. During the first hour, I spent time judging my assigned posters (it was a competition) and the second hour presenting my own work. The energy was so great in the room and I was glad for the opportunity to learn about some of the great research being done around campus! We ended the evening with a formal banquet, which was a great way to finish out the program. All of the faculty advisors got up to say great things about their summer researchers and awards were extended to those who did superior work. I am proud of one of our own cohort members who was awarded second place out of the entire SRP program for his poster presentation! While the banquet was great, afterward we all had to do the hard work of saying goodbye to one another. After lots of great pictures, I went home to pack up my thing and get ready to leave. 

This summer I made amazing relationships and I can’t believe how much I learned in such a short time! My experience in the NIMBUS lab was absolutely amazing and has certainly helped drive my goal for a future career in research. 

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WEEK 10

Departure day. I am so sad, yesterday I said goodbye to all my friends and Nimbus staff. All of us shared incredible moments and I strongly believe that our group “Unnmaned System” was the best ever. Especially, the Nimbus lab is AMAZING and I recommend all of you guys to apply for this program the next year. Personally, I am really motivated to come back to the States the next year for grad school.

This week finally we present our posters in the SRP symposium. It was a really good experience. In the beginning, I was scared to present it but after the practice presentation, I got the confidence needed to feel comfortable during the presentation.

FIG 1. Me presenting my poster

After that, we attend the closing banquet. That was our last dinner together with the “Nimbus” guys. I enjoyed the food and the rest of the event but I did not when we took the last pictures together at the end of the event.

FIG 2. One of the last pictures taken after the banquet

Finally, I just want to thank the people who made my participation in the program possible and all the Nimbus staff. It was glad to spend my summer with you.

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Week 10

During this week I continued to work on my final paper which is about 17 pages long, and prepared for my poster presentation for the symposium event.

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Week 9

During this week I continue with my investigation, this time on redundancy.

I found a publication on the basic understanding on triple modular redundancy for FPGA -based computer systems.

The basic idea is that TMR is when you have three processors working simultaneously, and their outputs have voters. The voters select the most popular output. TM is implemented relative to the architecture structure of the FPGA. The publication explains that the biggest area of the architecture such as the registers for example will require a very strong TMR since it is more vulnerable to radiation effects. This is to avoid overhead and also to avoid to make the system prone to radiation effects.

During this week I continued to work on my final paper, and finished my poster presentation.

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Week 8

During this week I clarified the topics of my investigation that were unclear.

I investigated about the effects of single event burnout (SEB) and single event gate ruptures (SEGR).

These effects mostly affect power MOSFETS. The main idea is when a high energy particle strikes a power MOSFET it alters the electric field at the depletion regions or at the insulator layer. If it accumulated in the depletion regions it creates a SEB, whereas if it accumulates at the insulator gate it creates a SEGR.

I also investigated about SEL.

A single event latch-up SEL. Affects mostly complementary MOS (CMOS). The main idea is that the energy from a high energy particle activates the parasitic behavior of the CMOS which implies that it starts to behave as a Bipolar junction transistor (BJT). Relative to the energy of the particle the current starts to increment leading to a short circuit described as a latch-up.

I also investigated about error detection and correction codes EDAC. These techniques exist on both hardware and software. These are implemented relative to the mission to avoid overhead in computation.

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Week Nine

Someone once told me that with writing, you only ever have a good draft; a final draft doesn’t truly exist. She was describing the feeling that a paper could always be better, but at some point, it needs to be done enough. The first time I ever experienced this was with art. For a painter, the piece can always be better, the details adjusted or the colors enhanced. I think this dilemma exists with any creative work and is best approached with a good iterative review process. It’s like minimizing a cost function; there may be peaks and valleys, but ultimately each iteration brings the work closer to where it should be. 

This week the first full draft of my project report was due. Early on in the semester, I spent significant time working on the literature review and was surprised to find that there isn’t a significant body of work that exists on UAV operator mode classification. So, I decided to spend time with research related to the general classification of UAV behavior. Similar to an iterative writing process, immersion in a body of research feels like it starts off with a broad net and a large margin of error. Much of the work I read was only tangentially related to my specific project but ultimately helped me position the work in a larger context. As I continue to iterate over my project draft and continue with the research, I imagine my net may grow much smaller, but also more precise. 

I was also reminded this week of the importance of adaptability in research. Last Friday, I realized my neural network was overfitting, something I hadn’t noticed until running a very large number of epochs. I was able to diagnose the problem and fix it (there was a class imbalance in the dataset, which I was able to offset with a weighted loss), but that also meant that I had to throw out my previous results and re-run all of my tests. I worked through the weekend and was able to get everything done in time for the final poster and rough paper draft! That said, I certainly plan to continue iterating over my paper.

In the lab this week, our lab administrators organized a potluck for the REU students – it was so great! We got to eat some home-cooked food with the lab directors and graduate students. We also had the opportunity to review our posters with the lab directors and give a two-minute overview. The lab directors gave us some great feedback, which was certainly helpful and confirmed that I need to practice. Outside of the lab, we attended a helpful presentation on giving effective research presentations. Again, we were given the opportunity to give one, three and five-minute synopses of our work. Next week, I’m excited to take the Part 107 Drone Pilot test and present at the final research symposium!

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Week 9: Wrapping it Up

The start of my week was dedicated to finishing up the poster. With the deadline quickly approaching (Tuesday at 5 pm), I felt the pressure creeping up, but I also knew that there was no possible way to rush machine learning. I finished my last training session at around noon on Tuesday and was able to get feedback from the professors on my poster before submitting the final poster. I sacrificed a bit of sleep on Monday night, but I’m really happy with how my poster turned out!

Since Tuesday, things have slowed down, and I have been wrapping up my work here at UNL. I have been formatting my code and packaging it nicely so that the NIMBUS lab will have organized documentation of what I was able to accomplish; I have been saving the dataset I created and leaving annotated files of the images; I have started writing a paper about my work this summer.

On Wednesday, our lab had a final potluck with everyone to wrap up the summer. The professor I am working with left very early on Thursday morning for a short vacation and Jake (a fellow REU student) is leaving on Saturday. With these goodbyes being said already and many more to come next week, I have been trying to wrap up my work at the Schorr Center Rm. 207 Desk #9.

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Week 9

This week was really experiment heavy. We ran multiple tests to try to shave down the various confounding variables that we think may be impacting our research. I read some more literature for my paper that hopefully better explain my thought processes when helping to create the new questionnaires. I really hope these questions actually work and better responses come in. We also presented our posters to our colleagues which was a really interesting experience. Things that our PIs noticed, I would not have even thought about. It was a really useful session. 

My lab partner leaves this week which is the biggest bummer of the twenty-first century. I hope he enjoys Germany and Italy as much as we are enjoying the small *incredibly kind* town of Lincoln, Nebraska.