Student Research

Every year, the Honors Program provides financial support for a limited number of research projects for Honors Program students directed by Embry-Riddle faculty.

Many students also participate in research through Honors contracts. Honors contracts allow students to go above and beyond the typical curriculum for a course and explore a variety of topics with faculty mentors. 

In addition to Honors funding, many of our students have also received funding through the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR). Below are descriptions of some of the group projects in which our students have participated, as well as some of the research organizations on campus.

Ongoing Research Projects 

Design, Build, Fly competition - American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

The Embry-Riddle AIAA chapter is once again participating in the AIAA Design, Build, Fly competition for the 2019-2020 academic year. This year's competition requires participating teams to design, manufacture, and pilot a scale plane capable of both secure passenger flights and banner towing, complete with all the hardware required for such a task. The chapter is also required to write a report on the design and manufacture of their plane.

Project Nautilus

The purpose of this project is to pioneer methods for ocean exploration and documentation so that we might achieve a better understanding of the largest ecosystem in the world: the ocean... As representatives of the Honors Student Association (HSA), we propose a solution to the issue of documenting the adverse effects of commercial fishing on seamounts - a completely autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) capable of diving down to the level of the seamounts and visually recording any harm as well as observing the spread of the environs therein and their interactions with the greater ocean around them. The AUV will allow researchers from around the world to document and study the ocean's various seamounts in an effort to protect this valuable ecosystem.

Project Thetis

The presence of microscopic plastic, or micro-plastic, in the marine environment poses a threat to the ecosystem, as it is an unnatural factor being introduced. They are both difficult to visually differentiate from their surroundings and to separate from sand by hand. An improvement to beach clean-up efforts would be the introduction of an autonomous robot to sort micro-plastics from sand and collect them for repurposing. The difference in densities of micro-plastics in comparison to beach sand is great enough that the two can be separated. Currently, Thetis is developing and constructing a robot to perform the separation of micro-plastics. Testing will occur to improve the functionality of the robot to optimize the amount of micro-plastic fragments that are recovered. Following the recovery of micro-plastic fragments, composites testing will ensue to explore the plausible applications of repurposing recovered fragments. Alteration of micro- plastics into a usable form for additive manufacturing optimizes the re-use of the plastic. The array of plausible applications for altered plastics grows as demand for additive manufacturing expands.

VALHALLA - Spacecraft Sciences Policy and Operations Club (SSPOC)

This project is a Vertical Air Lifted High Altitude Light Launch Apparatus (VALHALLA) aimed at assisting collegiate level rockets in reaching higher altitudes by providing a launch platform that will allow them to be launched from 100,000 ft. This would enable collegiate researchers to not only launch their rockets from an altitude that passes 90 percent of earth's dense atmosphere but would also facilitate the opportunity for research at this altitude and beyond. The goal is to make VALHALLA completely reusable, creating an economical option for collegiate researchers. As representatives of the Spaceflight Sciences Policy and Operations Club (SSPOC) of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the team aims to provide an affordable launching platform that will enable universities to conduct research at higher altitudes.

Embry-Riddle Future Space Explorers and Developers Society (ERFSEDS)

Founded in 1992, The Embry-Riddle Future Space Explorers and Developers Society is dedicated to providing hands-on experience in space exploration and related topics for students here at ERAU. While focused at our core on rocketry, ERFSEDS projects have branched into numerous research projects spanning a variety of aspects within the Aerospace Industry. The club also previously held the world record for highest altitude university vehicle with project Icarus, which launched in 2007 and achieved an altitude of 37.8 miles. 

For more information, please visit our website.

Experimental Rocket Propulsion Lab (ERPL)

ERPL will be conducting research in areas that will bring about a better understanding of the flight of hybrid motors. The goal of their project is to complete a research project centered on the variety of propellants used in hybrid motors. The findings will then be used by the Flight Hybrids Team for a flight-ready motor that will be much more effective than the motor currently being used.

Robotics Association of Embry-Riddle (RAER)

The Robotics Association is a student organization at the Daytona Beach campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). RAER is the parent organization of multiple student teams which compete in various competitions around the world. The Robotics Association competes in 7 different international competitions, including the NASA Robotic Mining competition, NSF Cyber Physical Systems Challenge, and five AUVSI Foundation competitions. The competitions all include a series of complex dynamic events and require students to carefully document their work and present their designs to expert judges from industry and government.

For more information, please visit our website.      

Note: If you are part of a research project or organization that includes Honors Program students and would like your research displayed here, please contact michelle.howell@erau.edu.

Past Research

Design, Build, Fly-American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) - 2011-2019

The Embry-Riddle chapter of AIAA has participated in AIAA’s annual Design, Build, Fly competition for every year since 2016, where they consistently earn high marks in recent years. This international competition has mission requirements that change each year, with past years including such challenges as meeting the requirements of a STOL Joint Strike Fighter (2013); transporting the parts for a second aircraft to a singular assembly location (2016); and manufacturing an aircraft that can fold into a tube for safe transportation (2017). Embry Riddle’s highest finish came in 2019, where they placed 6th overall. 

The Archimedes Initiative - 2018

The Archimedes Initiative consisted of a group of Honors Program students who conducted research into the efficiency and performance of hybrid-electrical and mechanical designs for water transport, and compared both designs to determine which was most effective for implementation in developing countries. Factors such as material cost, resource availability, and ease of use were all considered during the design, testing, and future implementation of the project. The Archimedes Initiative completed the construction of the hybrid prototype and hs finished the mechanical design. Once the designs were fully built, the mechanical and hybrid teams conducted various tests on both designs in order to test their capabilities and efficiency. The results were then analyzed to determine the effectiveness of each pump.

Eco-Dolphin (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) - 2016

Eco-Dolphin is the name of a fleet of adaptive and cooperative Automated Underwater Vehicles that a team of SIAM students had been working on since the spring 2012 semester. The fleet was designed to support future environmental science research and surveillance services in littoral water. Students used the Analysis, Computation, and Experimentation (ACE) approach to study the stability and maneuverability of small scale AUV against internal forces, rip currents, and tsunamis. Eco-Dolphins could also be used along with a buoy fleet equipped with integrated ocean observers to build and maintain a coastal-marine autonomous network for wildlife observation.

High Efficiency Low Wake Aquatic Vehicle Exterior (HELWAVE) - 2015

The HELWAVE team worked to develop a means of reducing or even eliminating the wake of a boat by crafting the vessel’s hull in the shape of a specialized standing wave known as a soliton. The application could see use in military stealth applications, environmental protection, and rapid-response situations. Models were developed using a complex mathematical theory and a series of computer programs to determine the vessel’s shape. Once a shape had been designed, its performance was tested both through computer simulations and quantitative tests. The physical models were created through a combination of advanced manufacturing methods including 3D printing, a laser cutter, and composites work. Physical testing occurred in the Wave Motion Lab at ERAU’s College of Arts and Sciences. 

Pelican (Robotics Association of Embry Riddle) - 2014

The Robotics Association was contacted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) about an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) that could be used to help the department keep track and count wildlife populations. Named “Pelican,” this project involved designing and building a small UAS that could be operated by one person,  land in water, and could carry a high-resolution camera to take pictures of local wildlife. In addition, the aircraft had to be designed to be quiet and appear less like a predator, so that it would not scare any of the animals that are being tracked when flying overhead. The project aimed to design, manufacture, and test a prototype of the Pelican UAV system that could be demonstrated, after FAA approval was obtained, in conjunction with ODFW in Oregon.

Team Gray Autonomous Vehicle Display Team - 2013

This team built a pragmatic learning platform for students and researchers in order to make valuable use of the autonomous vehicle systems granted to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University by Gray Matter Systems, Inc. The plan included the writing of user manuals for basic and intermediate operation of both systems; the development of user-friendly software tools for analyzing their behavior; the design of an "Autonomous Vehicle Awareness Agenda" in order to encourage students to conceptualize projects involving one or both systems; and the creation and training of a permanent "Autonomous Vehicle Display Team" conformed by students and faculty for educational and social exhibitions.

Honors Student Association (HSA) Urban Wind Turbine Project - 2013

HSA developed creative and sustainable wind turbines that addressed the following consumer-oriented issues: power optimization, cost efficiency, limited space, aesthetics, and portability. The project ultimately culminated in the creation of high-efficiency wind turbines and extensive analysis with wind turbines that could be further used in the commercial and scientific sectors. The students involved in this project were able to apply concepts learned in the classroom for solving a real-world problem that involves a wide range of interdisciplinary skills.

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