DENTON (UNT), Texas -- L-3 Mission Integration has donated equipment and materials to the University of North Texas College of Engineering in an effort to help educate and inspire the next generation of aerospace professionals.
Among the donations are six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and ground station equipment, as well as specialized laboratory equipment supporting the departments of electrical engineering, computer science and engineering, and engineering technology.
Constructed of heavy-duty, reinforced materials, the UAVs contain autopilots, Global Positioning Systems and video cameras that were used to demonstrate various applications as part of research studies. Students in UNT's College of Engineering will be able to use the UAVs to develop base control software and routines to pilot the units.
"With multiple UAVs, students can test out algorithms for 'swarming,' which use several agents with limited intelligence that work together to complete a complex task," said L-3 Mission Integration Senior Principal Engineer Kevin Cobble, who worked on the company's UAV video collection research project. "Consider how ants or bees accomplish more when they work together than they could independently."
With the on-board video capability, engineering students can also investigate algorithms for road following, terrain following and other more complex behaviors.
UNT intends to use the donated UAVs as test beds for research projects in control of autonomous systems for various applications, including emergency response aerial communications networks. The units will also support teaching of control system courses in the electrical engineering and engineering technology programs.
The idea for the donation came from Adam Marlowe, a 2009 UNT graduate who works at L-3 as a systems integration engineer.
"I knew there were systems that L-3 was no longer using and I thought that they would have really helped me when I was in school," Marlowe said. "After a few emails, the company agreed to make a donation to the university."
The remaining donated equipment will assist educators in demonstrating concepts related to radio frequency communications, cyber-physical systems, photo/video systems, computer science, and hardware and software design.
"We are thankful to L-3 Mission Integration for its support of UNT's College of Engineering and their partnership over the past few years," said Miguel Garcia-Rubio, associate dean for outreach at UNT's College of Engineering.
According to L-3 Mission Integration Vice President of Engineering Jim Gibson, the importance of the donation is in how it gives students the opportunity to develop key engineering skills by working with systems that have actually been used in the field.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for university students to learn from systems that have been used by industry and are not hobbyist-grade equipment," said Gibson, who has served on UNT's College of Engineering Advisory Board. "Having resources like these available to students makes it possible for them to better understand real-world applications before they join a company like L-3."
L-3 Mission Integration is a world-class systems integration organization with more than 60 years of experience in developing complex intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; command and control systems; and secure communications. Located in Greenville, Texas, L-3 Mission Integration is an industry leader in missionization, modernization and maintenance of aircraft and ground systems. The company is part of L-3's Aerospace Systems business segment. To learn more about L-3 Mission Integration, please visit the company's website at www.L-3com.com/mid.