UAV takes flight in Sun Devils' hands

March 24, 2010

Students in the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus are building more than toys for their capstone projects.

A team of eight aeronautics engineering students won second place overall in the undergraduate division at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics regional student competition in Tucson for designing a video-capable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Their work competed in a field of 14 entries submitted by teams from universities in Arizona, Utah and California, including projects on liquid rocket engines, aero-thermodynamic analysis, propeller design and a mission to Phoebe.

The team designed and built the UAV with both autopilot and remote control capability. It launches under manual remote control, but once in the air can autonomously follow a route between several waypoints before returning for a landing. Applications for the aircraft could include security, search operations, and land and environmental surveying by private and public entities.   

“We received very positive feedback from all the judges and other student attendees at the conference,” says Juan Rios, the project manager and autopilot team lead. “We’re all very proud of what we have accomplished and the recognition we have received.”

The next step, Rios says, is to troubleshoot and fine-tune the aircraft’s performance and autopilot capacity to ensure consistent and stable flight. The students also plan to implement several different flight plans before preparing a full technical report on the design.

“With these projects, students are using technology, a little imagination, and off the shelf hardware to design and build a small UAV,” says Changho Nam, associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology.  “Through the UAV capstone projects, students acquire the experience of working as part of a team to solve a challenging, practical design and build problem within a limited budget. They have gone through all the steps of designing and building a prototype aircraft, including design, analysis, fabrication and test flights.”

The project builds on similar work done by a student team during the 2008-09 academic year, adds Nam, the team’s faculty advisor.

Airframe design team lead Jeremiah Gayle says the UAV, which has a wingspan of 4.5 feet and weighs about 4 pounds, embarked on its maiden flight on March 11.

“We had to use a larger design than last year’s team in order to support the integrated video system and a heavier battery,” says Gayle, who estimated that the UAV’s battery could support up to half an hour in the air.

The aircraft broadcasts a live video feed from the onboard camera and transmits the video to a ground-control computer system where it can be recorded.  

The team considered 15 designs, digitally modeled the top five and tested them for optimal lift and stability before the final design was chosen.  Their final product is modular, with wings that can be easily detached from the fuselage. Substituting different wing sets can alter the vehicle’s capabilities to suit a variety of functions.

Comparable commercial video-capable aerial systems can sell for around $10,000, Gayle says. Construction costs for the students’ UAV came to approximately $2,000.

Gayle, along with teammates Brad Golding, Thomas Gonzales, Kamerine Kroner, Kevin Languell, Gabe McDaniel, Jake McKown and Juan Rios, constructed the UAV using remaining materials from last year’s UAV project, sponsored by Kutta Technologies. About $800 in supplemental funding was provided through the Department of Engineering Technology.

The project has not been without its setbacks, though. Interference between the streaming video and the remote piloting signal initially caused the team to lose control of the UAV in flight and a new transmitter had to be installed.

“Computer science is involved in programming the autopilot and troubleshooting after test flights,” says Rios. “We didn’t have much initial programming experience, so we learned on the go.”

Despite difficulties, the project has proven inspirational.

“Personally, since getting involved with this project, I’ve become much more interested in UAVs,” Rios says. “This has become something that I’d like to pursue in the future as a career.”

 “It’s great to watch something you designed go from a computer model to something you can hold in your hands,” Gayle says. Download Full Image

Water polo hosts first home matches of season

March 24, 2010

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The seventh-ranked Arizona State University women's water polo team (12-8, 0-3 MPSF) will host the annual ASU Invitational March 26-28. They face Cal Baptist Friday night at 6:30 p.m. (PST) before playing a pair of games Saturday against No. 3 Hawai'i and Concordia. ASU will finish the weekend with a match vs. Santa Clara at 9 a.m. (PST) Sunday. Download Full Image

Home sweet home
After 20 matches on the road, the Sun Devils return to the Valley of the Sun for the first time this season for the three-day ASU Invitational at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe. ASU has been all over the state of California in the past two months with road matches in Irvine, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, San Jose, Thousand Oaks and Long Beach.

Game times
Here are the game times for this weekend's ASU Invitational (all games will be played at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center):
- Friday: ASU vs. Cal Baptist (6:30 pm) - Saturday: Santa Clara vs. Concordia (10 am), ASU vs. Hawai'i (11:30 am), Santa Clara vs. Cal Baptist (1 pm), ASU vs. Concordia (3:00 pm) and Hawai'i vs. Cal Baptist (4:30 pm).
- Sunday: ASU vs. Santa Clara (9 am), Hawai'i vs. Concordia (10:30 am), Santa Clara vs. Hawai'i (1:30 pm)

Picking up where she left off
Junior attacker Lynlee">">Lynlee Smith surpassed the 40-point mark March 20 after recording a goal and an assist in a loss to San Jose State. Against Stanford March 21, she collected a pair of goals, an assist and three steals. Last year's leading scorer has 33 goals and 11 assists, and has notched a goal in 18 of 20 matches this season. The Auckland, New Zealand, native has three hat tricks this season, is tops on the team with 10 multiple goal games and her 98 career scores are fifth in school history. She is the team leader with 44 points and has 134 points in her career, seventh most in school history.

Spreading the wealth
Sophomore attacker Mariam">">M... Salloum collected five assists March 20-21 against San Jose State and Stanford, including a three-assist performance vs. the Spartans. Her team-leading 18 assists, coupled with her 26 last season, have pushed Salloum into a tie for seventh place on the school's career assists list. She is second on the team with 37 points, has 19 goals on the season, including three hat tricks, and has 19 steals.

A consistent force
After scoring a pair of goals March 14 vs. Long Beach State, junior center Nikki">">N... Unbehaun took hold of 9th place on the school's career goals list with 64. One of the key returning players from last season's team, Unbehaun has recorded 21 goals and three assists this season while starting all 20 games. She found the back of the net four times March 6 vs. Whittier and again March 7 against Pomona-Pitzer, and has seven multiple goal games.

Ahead of the pack
Freshman center Shannon">">Sha... Haas scored three goals March 20-21, including a pair vs. Stanford, and now has sole possession of eighth place on the school's all-time list for most goals in a season by a freshman with 28. The team leader among freshman in goals, points and steals, Haas found the back of the net 13 times during the CLU Spring Classic March 6-7, and is second on the team with eight multiple goal games on the season. The Murrieta, Calif., native notched a career-high five goals March 6 in a 20-2 win over No. 19 CS East Bay.

Harrising the opposition
Junior attacker Sarah">">Sarah Harris is tops on the team with 24 steals, and has collected 22 goals and nine assists in her first season with the Sun Devils. A former standout at Pacific, she has also won 49 of 58 sprints this season. Last weekend, she recorded four goals, an assist and five steals in two games, including a three-goal, one-assist, four-steal performance against San Jose State March 20.

An emerging star
With 21 goals and nine assists on the season, sophomore attacker Kelsey">">Kelsey White has more than tripled her numbers from last year. Her 30 points rank fifth on the team and her 20 steals are second best on the squad. She earned her first career hat trick Feb. 6 against No. 4 Cal at the Stanford Invitational and has six multiple goal games on the season. White found the back of the net one time against both San Jose State and Stanford March 20-21, and finished the five-game CLU Spring Classic March 6-7 with five goals and five steals.

Amazin' Annabelle
Sophomore attacker Annabelle">"... Carter is third on the team with 32 points after collecting 11 assists, which is tied for the team lead, and scoring 21 goals through 20 games. Her six-goal performance Jan. 30 against UC Irvine still ranks as the most goals by a Sun Devil in single-game this season. Carter scored one goal and dropped three assists in a 16-1 win over Whittier March 6, and finished the CLU Spring Classic March 6-7 with three goals and six assists in five games.

Group effort
Thirteen of the 15 different Sun Devils who have scored a goal through 20 matches this season have recorded multiple goal games, including nine with three or more scores in a single game. Smith is the team leader in multiple goal games with 10, while Haas is second with eight and Unbehaun sits third with seven. ASU has also not been shy about distributing the ball, as 15 players have an assist this year, including nine with two or more in a game. Salloum, who has three hat tricks and four multiple goal games this season, paces the team with four multiple assist games, including a pair of three-assist performances.

In the cage
Sophomore goalie Dana">">Dana Harvey has recorded 86 saves and allowed 54 goals in 11 starts this season. Against San Jose State March 20, she began the game tending the net and ended with three saves. Freshman Amanda">">Amanda Young, who has collected 96 saves and given up 77 goals in nine starts, started the match vs. Stanford March 21 and finished with seven saves in four quarters of play. Young also made five saves against San Jose State while sharing time with Harvey.

Four seasons of history
Senior attacker Bonnie">">Bonnie Miles is third on ASU's career assists list with 80 and sixth on the career points list with 144. Her goal against San Jose State March 20 gave her 64 on her career, which ties for ninth on the school's all-time list. After scoring four goals in five games March 6-7 at the CLU Spring Classic, senior center Kelly">">Kelly Phelps moved into the top four in Sun Devil history in both goals scored (119) and points (163). She is third in career goals scored and fourth in career points, and has 44 assists in her career, just one behind sixth place.

Halfway to a full circle
ASU's victory over Long Beach State March 14 gave head coach Todd">">Todd Clapper his 180th career victory. Clapper, who is in his 11th year as a head coach and fifth with the Sun Devils, now has 75 wins with the Sun Devils.

Play the best to be the best
The Sun Devils have faced a ranked opponent in 18 of their 20 matches this season, including seven against top-five teams and 12 versus those in the top-10, according to the Division I National Collegiate Poll rankings. ASU has also played a pair of teams in the top-10 of the Division III National Collegiate Poll rankings, including top-ranked Pomona Pitzer. The Sun Devils hold the advantage over these top teams, having gone 10-8 against them so far this season. During the course of the season, they are set to play upwards of 23 games against teams ranked in the top-20 of either Division I or III.

A busy summer
It was a busy July for the Sun Devils overseas as four student-athletes and Clapper competed in the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome, while junior attacker Candice"> Phillippe played in the World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia. Smith, Harvey and Clapper represented New Zealand. Smith scored seven goals and had three assists in six games and Clapper led the squad to a third place finish in their group and 12th overall. Harris led South Africa in goals scored with eight, and Salloum had two goals and an assist for Germany in six games.

A look back at 2009
For the first time in program history, the Sun Devils were ranked in the top-10 all last season. They moved as high as fifth in the March 4 poll and ended the season ranked 10th. The team started the season 6-0 and set a school record in average goals-per-game with 10 and a half. They had multiple All-Americans for the second season in a row as departed senior Addison">">... McGrath was a First-Team selection and Smith collected Honorable Mention honors.

Annabelle and Sarah's excellent adventure
Carter, a native of Sydney, Australia, and Harris, who hails from Cape Town, South Africa, joined the team in mid-January and will look to contribute immediately. Carter attended the Australia College of Physical Education in Sydney for two years and was selected to compete for the Australian U17 team in 2006 and the U20 team in 2008. Harris attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., for one year and then attended school back home in South Africa before coming to Tempe. Her team-high 102 points were tops in the MPSF, as was her 3.40 goals per game average. She was named an All-MPSF Honorable Mention, the lone freshman selected to any All-American team.

In the series...Cal Baptist
At the ASU Invitational in 2008, the Sun Devils beat Cal Baptist 14-4 in Tempe. Arizona State is 7-4 against the Lancers and after losing the first four, ASU have won seven in a row.

In the series...Hawaii
The Sun Devils' match against Hawai'i March 27 will mark the third time these two teams have faced each other this season. The Rainbow Wahine has won both meetings, which were each played at a neutral site. Hawai'i prevailed 11-7 at the Stanford Invitational Feb. 6 and then three weeks later they defeated ASU 9-7 in the fifth-place game at the UC Irvine Invitational. Arizona State trails the all-time series 2-8.

In the series...Concordia (CA)
ASU defeated Concordia 20-3 at the 2008 Lancer Invitational, the only time these two teams have faced each other.

In the series...Santa Clara
The Sun Devils are 6-1 in the all-time series against Santa Clara. Arizona State's first game as a varsity program was against the Broncos on Feb. 9, 2002, and Santa Clara won 8-6 in overtime. Last season, ASU defeated Santa Clara 11-10 in overtime at the ASU Invitational.

New kids on the block
The Sun Devils welcome seven freshman to the team this season: defender Becca">">Becca Clopp, Haas, center Kramer">"... Greenberg, attackers Morgan">">Morgan Leech and Searra"> Silverberg, center Paige">">Paige Walters and Young. In addition, Carter and Harris are in their first season with ASU.

So international
From South Africa to Germany, there are Sun Devils all over the world. Eight players from five different countries are on the ASU roster, meaning close to half of the team hails from outside of the United States. Harvey, sophomore center Bella">">B... Morrison and Smith are from New Zealand, White and Harris grew up in South Africa, Phillippe is a native of Canada, and Salloum is from Germany.

Next time out
The Sun Devils play their fifth MSPF Conference game April 3 against No. 3 California in Tempe at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center