Two engineers receive NSF CAREER Awards

September 09, 2008

Two College of Engineering faculty members were among the seven assistant professors at Penn State who received Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards. This prestigious award is given to junior faculty for excellence in research and education.

The CAREER awards provide funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for each researcher.

The Penn State recipients from the College of Engineering are Sean Hallgren, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; and Jacob Langelaan, assistant professor of aerospace engineering.

Hallgren works in the area of quantum computation, which aims to use quantum mechanical systems for computation. Quantum computers can break widely used cryptosystems, including those used to protect e-commerce transactions. The goal of this project is to find new applications for quantum computers and to determine which cryptosystems are secure against them.

Langelaan's research is focused on problems related to small and mini Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These robotic aircraft are ideal for missions that are too risky for larger vehicles or missions where a large vehicle is impractical. However, small size results in performance limitations, capacity for onboard energy storage is limited, and the sensing payload is limited by size, weight and power constraints. Also, at this scale, viscous forces are a large contributor to drag, making it difficult to design efficient small vehicles. To compensate for these physical limitations, he aims to develop planning and control algorithms that will enable these small and mini UAVs to extract energy from the surrounding atmosphere, like birds, they will be able to soar. This capability will greatly increase the range and endurance of the small robotic aircraft. Langelaan's other research interests include sensing, data fusion and estimation, vision-aided control and navigation and trajectory planning.

Eligibility for the CAREER award is restricted to assistant professors, and awards are for a period of five years. Over the past five years, 19 other Penn State researchers have received the award, most of whom are still receiving this funding.

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Last Updated July 06, 2009