Theses & Dissertations


The Bulk of the research done at the IRL falls into one of four categories: vehicle mobility, automated sampling, assistive mobility and engineering education.  Historically, there has been much more funding for vehicles and sampling and so most graduate work has been in those areas.  As NASA’s fortunes fall and priorities change, more funding is becoming available for education and assistive technology allowing these to shift from side projects to a more primary focus for future graduate students. 

Current research is focused multi-rotor flight for education (Meyer), entertainment and weather research (M. Walker), and assistive technology -- including current work on assistive crawling robot systems for infants with cerebral palsy.

Vehicle mobility and sampling have many possible uses, but the primary emphasis in this lab has been towards Mars exploration.  The work on mobility has looked at treads (see Fair), fine control of rocker-Bogie systems (see Lee) and the design of a simpler high mobility vehicle (see Roman & Taber).  Along the way, there have been some detailed studies of wheels focusing both on the design (Winterholler & Mills) and on analysis of behavior (Flippo).

Sampling has looked at processing small ice cores (Iyer), going through the weathering rind on surface boulders (Murarka) and processing full sized rock cores for the MARTE Mars drill (see Krause for hardware and Branson for software).

The link between Mars science and why these hardware innovations are needed is made clear in Billingley’s thesis.