Campus: CSU, Northridge -- April 30, 2001
Software Gift Provides CSUN Students With Tool to
Explore Unmanned Flight
FA $60,000 gift by a Thousand Oaks-based software company is making
it possible for Cal State Northridge students to work closely with engineers
at Lockheed Martin on the design of an unmanned aircraft that can respond
to emergency situations on its own.
Engineers at Lockheed Martin have been working with Northridge electrical
and computer engineering students and faculty to create the plane for
the military for possible surveillance use. To assist in their efforts,
Sight, Sound and Motion, a division of Systemware Inc., has given CSUN
$60,000 in software.
"The software allows us to see all the actions we are simulating
- taxiing, take-offs and other situations a plane might encounter while
in flight," said Ramin Roosta, a CSUN electrical and computer engineering
Roosta said that information is vital as the faculty and graduate students
work with their professional counterparts in designing an automated
"mission manager" that will replace the need for a pilot to
take control of a plane during unexpected events.
"Basically we are designing a replacement for a pilot. Sort of
a mission manager for a pilotless plane," Roosta said. "It
would do everything a pilot would do during take off, taxiing and landing
of a plane. It would also be able to assess changes in the aircraft's
gauges and react to unexpected situations, even, in case of capture
by the enemy, blowing itself up."
He said working on the project has been a wonderful opportunity for
the 15 CSUN students, many of whom were undergraduates when they started.
Twelve have landed jobs as a result of their work. There are two graduate
students currently working on the project, which began more than two
"The skills they are learning are making them very marketable,"
Roosta said. "You can just imagine the interviewer's reaction when
they ask one of the students 'What did you do while you were at CSUN?'"
California State University, Northridge has more than 29,000 full- and
part-time students and offers 58 bachelor's and 50 master's degrees.
Founded in 1958, it is the only four-year university in the San Fernando
CSUN's College of Engineering and Computer Science is nationally recognized.
A recent National Science Foundation survey of 529 universities ranked
CSUN among the top 12 in the number of graduates who go on to earn doctorates
in the computer sciences and engineering. It is also ranked 14th in
the nation in the number of bachelor's degrees awarded to Hispanic students,
qualifying the campus to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education
as a Hispanic Serving Institution.