Research Matters

Research Matters

Polar UAV


A new unmanned aerial vehicle will help experts gauge dwindling ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.

Aired May 24, 2009


2 minutes 3.7 MB) | Download mp3

Transcript

A new unmanned aerial vehicle will help experts gauge dwindling ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

Emily Arnold, an aerospace engineering major from Hillsboro, is a long-serving undergraduate member of a team designing a robot plane for the KU-based Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, or CReSIS.

"For the last two years, I've been working with the structures and integration team. Our head designer will design a part, and I'll help make it. So I've basically built the whole airplane at least structure-wise. And I've also helped with integration issues. Like when we have these two parts, how to we get them together? " I've earned an informal leadership role on the team," Arnold said. "I've helped train new undergraduates that come and work."

The UAV Arnold helped build will carry advanced ice-penetrating radar and other equipment. The aircraft - dubbed the "Meridian" - will soar through subzero conditions too dangerous for human pilots, and recover data vital to science's understanding of ice sheet loss. Arnold also is designing a light sport aircraft for a local company.

"A light sport aircraft is really a totally new category for the FAA," said Arnold. "In my senior design class, one of the options you could design was an LSA. So I chose that since it seemed like the most appealing. I thought I could really go somewhere with my design. And in talking with people at KU and with the person who started the company, things just meshed together."

Arnold's co-workers on the Meridian see a great future for her as an aerospace engineer and entrepreneur. But Arnold said she'd always remember the support she's received along the way.

"This was really stepping out of where I came from," she said. "KU is ten times the size of my hometown. I had no idea what to expect. I was pretty successful academically in my hometown. But I thought, 'Well, I'm competing against 45 other people, I don't know what's going to happen when I go to this big university.' The Aerospace Engineering department changed my life. Whatever you put in, the department gives back to you. I've really experienced that stepping out really forces you to grow."

For more about UAVs log onto Research Matters dot K-U dot E-D-U. For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

Tell Me More

Polar UAV

A new robot aircraft - dubbed the "Meridian" - will soar through subzero conditions too dangerous for human pilots, and recover data vital to science's understanding of ice sheet loss.

Tell me more