ITHACA, N.Y. -- Raffaello D'Andrea, associate professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University, has been awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE), the White House has announced. The award carries a five-year, $500,000 research grant to explore the control of interconnected systems. Matching grants from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research bring the total project funding to $1 million.
The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U. S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers who are in the early stages of establishing their independent research careers. Awards are given to researchers who have received their Ph.D. degrees within the past five years. The Clinton administration established the awards in February, 1996 to recognize some of the nation's finest junior scientists.
PECASE winners are nominated by eight federal agencies from among researchers already being funded by those agencies. D'Andrea's award was one of six sponsored by the Department of Defense.
D'Andrea's specialty is control of complex systems, which he approaches by building a mathematical model of the system in which outputs such as sensor readings and inputs such as forces are represented by mathematical equations. From this, he says, one can derive "laws" about the relationship between inputs and outputs, and these form the basis of the control system, which then can be applied to the physical world.
The project being funded by the PECASE award concerns the control of systems where many machines or devices must work together to achieve a common objective. Examples range from aircraft flying in formation to automated highway systems to mirrors in space telescopes that can be deformed by hundreds of actuators to focus an image. The underlying mathematics can even be applied to the group behavior of animals and humans. D'Andrea's research group is highly interdisciplinary, including graduate and postgraduate researchers in applied mathematics, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and theoretical and applied mechanics. "We believe that a multidisciplinary approach is the only viable method for exploiting the ever-accelerating advances in technology to create the next generation of autonomous, high performance and intelligent systems," D'Andrea says.
D'Andrea was educated at the University of Toronto (B.Sc. in engineering physics, 1991) and the California Institute of Technology (M.S. in 1992 and Ph.D. in 1997, both in electrical engineering). He joined the Cornell faculty in 1997. In 1999 he was presented with the D.G. Shepherd Teaching Prize, awarded annually to the most outstanding teacher in the Sibley School. In 2000 he received the J.P. and Mary Berger '50 Excellence in Teaching Award and a Faculty Early Career Development Program grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). In 2001 he received the Cornell College of Engineering Award, given annually to 20 outstanding teachers, and was a distinguished lecturer in the NSF Research Highlight Series.
Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.
o Raffaello D'Andrea (includes research reports): http://www.mae.cornell.edu/raff
o President's Office of Science and Technology Policy, Science Division (out of date):