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NASA names OSU lead institution for strategic research initiative

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

NASA has recognized a team of researchers from Oklahoma State University with the University Leadership Initiative Award.

OSU is one of just five university teams to receive the honor and a share of $32.8 million in funding over the next four years to address some of NASA’s strategic research initiatives. As the lead institution for this initiative, OSU will receive $5.2 million. 

The other teams awarded were from Stanford University, the University of Delaware, North Carolina A&T State University and the University of South Carolina. 

“Each of these teams is working on important problems that definitely will help break down barriers in ways that will benefit the U.S. aviation industry,” said John Cavolowsky, director of NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program in Washington, D.C.

OSU’s team, which includes faculty members and students from the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, aims to improve real-time weather forecasting of low-level winds and turbulence in both rural and urban environments.

The team’s aim is to improve safety for Unmanned Aircraft systems (UAS) flying in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) operations. 

OSU investigators include professors Jamey Jacob, Brian Elbing, Imraan Faruque and Nicoletta Fala. Jacob, the director of  OSU’s Unmanned Systems Research Institute, is the project’s principal investigator. Researchers from USRI have worked with NASA in the past, and Jacob said he is looking forward to using OSU’s research prowess to spur innovation again.

“Selection to the NASA University Leadership Program confirms OSU’s expertise and preeminence in unmanned systems, particularly in the area of unmanned aircraft for weather and meteorological applications,” Jacob said. 

The University Leadership Initiative aims to unite NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) and prominent American research universities to produce new, innovative ideas. Jacob said the NASA ULI program allows university and industry teams to provide unique solutions to the most complex problems facing aeronautics today.  

“The challenge our team is addressing will have an impact across a wide range of aircraft, not only helping advance the integration of drones and urban air taxis into the national airspace, but also increasing the safety of air transportation and airport operations for all aircraft from airliners and general aviation aircraft alike,” Jacob said. 

OSU’s team includes members from Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Nebraska, the University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Vigilant Aerospace Systems Inc. AirXOS and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. 

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