NAE Awards The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grants for Advancement of Interdisciplinary Research

Release Date: March 15, 2017

For Immediate Release
Maggie Bartolomeo
Communications/Media Associate
National Academy of Engineering
Janet Hunziker
Senior Program Officer, Frontiers of Engineering
National Academy of Engineering

Washington, DC, March 15, 2017 – Two Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grants of $30,000 each have been awarded to attendees of the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) 2016 US Frontiers of Engineering (FOE) Symposium.

Amin Karbasi (Yale University) and Amit Surana (United Technologies Research Center) have received a Grainger Grant to “develop a unified approach for saliency detection in heterogeneous temporal data.” The grant will support the team’s interdisciplinary research to develop algorithms for compressing massive amounts of time—varying data into small salient or informative datasets to allow faster decision making. For example, if salient or significant images in particular frames can be identified from terabytes of video stream, the original video can be summarized using a much smaller set of frames, enabling much faster video processing for surveillance applications such as anomaly detection and activity classification. Karbasi and Surana will develop their distributed and streaming algorithms by unifying techniques from the fields of discrete optimization, dynamical systems and control theory.

The second Grainger Grant has been awarded to Marco Pavone (Stanford University) and Julian Rimoli (Georgia Institute of Technology) for research of “the development of tensegrity damping strategies for the exploration of low-gravity planetary bodies, e.g., asteroids and small moons.” Specifically, they will investigate the feasibility of a hybrid between two concepts independently developed by the awardees: an internal actuated rover (named Hedgehog) that has demonstrated unprecedented levels of hopping control in reduced-gravity experiments (Pavone’s work), and compliant tensegrity structures with the ability to absorb and dissipate large amounts of impact energy with minimum structural mass (Rimoli’s work). The hybrid vehicle will provide maximum control while preventing undesired bounces, a challenge illustrated when ESA’s Philae lander bounced more than a kilometer off target during an attempted “dead-stick” landing on a comet.

“It is always exciting to see what unique collaborations will be sparked when top early-career engineers from a variety of fields come together,” said NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr. “This is what the Frontiers of Engineering program is all about, and society is the likely beneficiary of advances that come from such interactions.”

Frontiers of Engineering is an NAE program that brings together outstanding early-career engineers from industry, academia, and government to discuss pioneering technical work and leading-edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors. The goal is to facilitate interactions and exchange of techniques and approaches across fields and facilitate networking among the next generation of engineering leaders. The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grants provide seed funding for US FOE participants who are at US-based institutions to enable further pursuit of important new interdisciplinary research and projects stimulated by the US FOE symposia.

The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation, based in Lake Forest, Illinois, was established in 1949 by William W. Grainger, founder of W.W. Grainger Inc.

Founded in 1964, the US National Academy of Engineering is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. Its mission is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.