Undergraduate and Masters Projects

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This page contains information for students who are interested in working in my lab during the academic year or the summer.

How to Apply: If you are interested in working in my lab, you should send me a copy of your resume and a short statement indicating what job(s) you are interested. Your resume should include relevant work experience and, if you are a Caltech student, a list of relevant coursework. Please tell me if you are interested in working part-time (academic year or summer) or full time (summer only).

I accept applications for part-time positions at any time during the academic year. Full-time summer positions are usually filled in April, so you should apply no later than the first week in April. Research projects can either be done as a full-time project over the summer (eg, SURF) or as a part-time project over the academic year.

SURF Projects: Undergraduates interested in working in my group over the summer should look at the projects below and contact me if you are interested in working on them. Due to the large number of students interested in working in my group, you should contact me no later than 27 January indicating which projects you are interested in and including a short resume. I will get back to you by early February letting you know if there is a project available and setting up a time to meet and discuss things further.

2006 SURF Projects

Note to non-Caltech students: Due to the small number of positions that I have available, I am only able to accept non-Caltech students who are personally recommended to me by a colleague at another university. If you are interested in working in my lab as a SURF student and aren't at Caltech, please ask a faculty member who knows me to send me an e-mail and recommend you for a position.

Projects that I am supervising:

  • Micro-Inspector GNC (joint with JPL) - JPL is developing a Micro-Inspector, a nano-scale spacecraft, to provide on-orbit visual inspection of a larger host spacecraft. This project will include the development of algorithms for the guidance and control of the inspector in close proximity to the host. The spacecraft will use typical inertial sensors (IMU, star tracker) and a laser-based collision avoidance sensor for relative navigation around the host. All operations will be optimized to have minimal impact on spacecraft consumables including propellant and power. Algorithms will be implemented on the Micro-Inspector hardware testbed using an avionics board running Linux. Prerequisites: Caltech student with background in controls. Non-Caltech students will also be considered. Work will be performed both on-campus at Caltech and on-lab at JPL. Co-sponsored by Hannah Goldberg.
  • Autonomous Vehicle SURFs - these projects involving working with Alice, the autonomous vehicle that we developed for the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. We have 8-10 positions available, with projects focused on building on our current system to look at autonomous driving in urban environments. The following projects are available (see GC SURF page for more details):
    • Dynamic simulation of an autonomous vehicle in dynamic environments
    • Optimization-based planning in dynamic environments
    • Motion planning in urban environments (eg, obeying traffic laws)
    • Goal-based reasoning and contingency management
    • Learning and adaptation for autonomous driving
    • Sensor fusion with moving obstacles
    • Environment classification and prediction
    • Attention and awareness for autonomous driving
  • Feedback in Genetic Networks - This project will focus on feedback in genetic networks. Self- regulation, regulation through feedback and feedforward loops, and nested combinations of these mechanisms all appear regularly in natural systems. Through simulation and analytical work, the student will explore why feedback patterns are ubiquitous in gene expression networks, how combined feedback and feedforward loops function, and how feedback makes genetic networks robust to changing environmental conditions. Pre-requisities: ACM 95b or equivalent differential equations class, CDS 110 or 101 useful but not required. No biological background necessary.

Summer Internships

We have collaborations with several different groups that host Caltech students (undergraduates and graduate students) for the summer. The links below provide more information on these opportunities:

  • CDS Alliance - spend 12-16 weeks in Brazil pursuing research in control and/or dynamical systems
  • AFRL Space Scholars Program - internships available for research in control applied to space craft

CDSA Projects

In addition to the SURF Projects listed above, members of the Control and Dynamical Systems Alliance (CDSA) may also choose to work on the projects listed below. These projects are only available to students at CDSA schools (Ecole des Mines, Lund University, Princeton, U. Campinas, UC Santa Barbara, U. Porto).

  • Market-Based Incentives for Control of the Electrical Power Grid - this is a joint project with Professor's Mani Chandy (CS) and John Ledyard (EE) to look at how market-based feedback mechanisms can be used to achieve efficiency and robustness for electrical power grids. A short project description is available.
  • Synthetic Biology - Catlech is a participant in the iGEM 2006 Competition, in which a team of students will conceive, design, implement and demonstrate a genetically engineered circuit.

CDSA students are also encouraged to look at projects on the SURF Announcements of Opportunities page and to contact me if you need help in getting in touch with the mentor listed there.

Academic Year Projects

None currently available.

Work Study Projects

  • Wiki Developer - looking for a student familiar with PHP and web programming to help develop the software for the AM05 Wiki, a companion site for a book that I am writing. The projects is available for the period of Jan-Jun 2006 and requires 8-12 hrs/week.