Learning to Fly with Dr. Fields

Click here to play video via YouTube.

We’re all a little fascinated with drones now, right? A quick visit to amazon and you can find over 10,000 commercial unmanned aircrafts available for purchase. If you’ve visited a local park, headed out to a sporting event, or popped by UMKC’s campus, you’ve probably seen them in the skies taking video or photographs – but for SCE faculty member, Dr. Travis Fields, they are doing something a bit more complicated, learning to fly.

Dr. Fields is conducting a research project that is focused on the building of a quadcopter that is much cooler than the traditional ones. How so? This drone can learn. Funded by a University of Missouri Research Board grant, his project entitled “In-Flight Learning with Indirect Adaptive Control: A New Paradigm in Flight Testing and Control” explores how to build an aircraft that can adapt as it is dropped and figure out how to adjust its behavior to stay in the air and avoid crashing.

As Dr. Fields explains, “the learning-based control system invokes small oscillations to the four quadcopter motors in order to learn how each motor effects the quadcopter motion. The oscillations provide sufficient data to create a model that can be used to efficiently control the aircraft.” Graduate student, Mohammed Alabsi, has been developing and testing this control system alongside Dr. Fields in the UMKC Drone Research and Teaching Lad (The DRAT). Check out our video to see what’s happening now. When the full research is completed, the ideal quadcopter would have a “fresh-brain” of its own. It will then be tossed from a building and will teach it’s self how to fly prior to reaching the ground!

10 Tips for Transferring

There are so many reasons that drive a student to transfer schools at some point in their academic career. Perhaps you started as at a local community college or your first choice turned out to not be the right fit – but either way, at SCE you are in good company! With almost 50% of our undergraduate population coming to us as transfers, transferring-guru and SCE Assistant Director of Recruitment, Micah Hildreth, compiled a list of the top ten ways to make the process easier.

  1. Pick a Major: Knowing what degree you want to graduate with will make course selection easier now—saving you time and money! Take a look at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook to find out what careers are growing and how much money you can make with different degrees.
  1. Select a School: Requirements vary greatly between schools, so the sooner you select the school you will be transfering to, the sooner you can begin working on their requirements. Pick a school that’s a good fit academically, geographically, financially, and socially.
  1. Develop a Plan: Once you settle on a major and a school, you’re ready to develop an academic plan. Course selection matters.  For example, engineering degrees have a prescribed sequence that students must follow in order to stay on track. Working with advisors at both schools is a good idea.
  1. Make Sure Your Classes Transfer: At UMKC we have a few different resources to help you understand how your credits will transfer. Transfer guides show course equivalencies with our area community colleges.  We also participate in transferology.com, which is a free resource that allows students to see how all of their credits will transfer.
  1. Know the Deadlines: Universities love deadlines, the really do. So whether it’s an application deadline or a scholarship deadline, you’ll want to know those dates. Mark them down. Stay on top of them. It may make the difference between getting a scholarship or not, being admitted or not.
  1. Visit the School: Sometimes transfer students decide on a school without ever setting foot on campus only to discover it’s not the right fit. It’s too hot, too far from home, there are no good dining options on campus, and the list goes on. Do yourself a favor and schedule a campus tour.  Schools like UMKC offer a variety of visits to accommodate the needs of transfer students.
  1. Research Scholarships: Who wants free money? Spend some time researching what scholarships your school provides and what’s available in the community.  UMKC offers specific transfer scholarships that are awarded on the basis of GPA and number of credits completed. Beyond that, there are a number of external scholarships for which students can apply.
  1. Get Involved: Participation in clubs and organizations can help you network, serve your community, and become a better leader. They may also qualify you for more scholarships. For example, UMKC provides an additional scholarship for students who are in Phi Theta Kappa, which is a national honor society available at many community colleges.
  1. Attend an Orientation: Transfer students know how to do college, but at orientation, transfers learn how to be a student at that university. Registering for classes and paying your bill are school-specific functions. You’ll want to know the school’s policy for dropping a class or how late the library is open.  These topics and many more are covered at orientation. Plus, if you’ve never visited campus, it’s great opportunity to do so.
  1. Own the Process: Every transfer student situation is unique, so ask a lot questions and petition for exceptions when needed. Transfer friendly schools, like UMKC, are equipped to provide answers and address concerns. You are your best advocate, and with good planning and proper resources, you can ensure your success.