UVA’s Link Lab, a center of excellence in cyber-physical systems research and education, has developed a new program to train graduate students to make discoveries associated with cyber and the Internet of Things, then translate that knowledge into new technologies, products and services.  The lab earned a $3 million National Science Foundation grant to create the training program, which is expected to become a national model for graduate education in cyber-physical systems. The program offers a hands-on, testbed-driven educational curriculum that is comprehensive and interactive. Graduate students learn about real-world applications. They will have opportunities to collaborate, embed in labs and workplaces and manage the deployment of new technologies.

Mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Lauren Bouchard is a member of the first cohort, which began in August 2019. Bouchard’s research aims to integrate knowledge of fluid systems into the controls of micro-air vehicles. One application of interest is weather sensing. For example, if a drone “knows” how its flight is affected by certain wind conditions, it could use its position and rotor speed data to infer the wind speed and direction without additional sensors. Accurate and predictive sensors help unmanned vehicles stay on course.

Bouchard’s Ph.D. adviser, assistant professor Daniel Quinn, specializes in smart fluid systems. Quinn has a dual appointment in mechanical and aerospace engineering and electrical and computer engineering and is a member of the Link Lab. Quinn’s projects include fish-inspired vehicles, micro-air vehicles and body flow sensors.

Other participating Link Lab faculty who have appointments in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering include professor Haibo Dong (story on page 18), associate professor Gregory J. Gerling and assistant professor Cody H. Fleming.

Ph.D. student Lauren Bouchard

"I chose the UVA Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering because of the program’s genuine emphasis on interdisciplinary research and because of the great academic community present here."