– A Florida Tech researcher just received a boost in his work to refine new transportation and launch technology. Florida Tech mechanical and aerospace
engineering professor, Dr. Hector Gutierrez, has received the 2003 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, which carries $300,000 in funding to
support his research in magnetic levitation systems. These systems apply to missile launching and future launch technology for the space shuttle.
The funding will also support one graduate student and two undergraduate researchers.
Gutierrez earned the grant by proposing a novel scheme to use real-time control in electrodynamic magnetic suspension (EDS maglev) systems. This developing
technology uses electrical energy — clean and inexpensive — to propel vehicles. The proposed research is the first attempt to use real-time control to
achieve robust levitation and guidance on a EDS maglev track.
Gutierrez’s goal is to deliver the first experimental proof-of-concept of high-performance, robust EDS maglev suspension based on feedback control, which
will be a breakthrough in the development of EDS maglev technology. Gutierrez carries out this work on a EDS test track supplied by NASA and the Florida
Space Institute, and located at Florida Tech’s Magnetic Suspension Lab.
Control of this type of maglev suspension, called “multi-degree of freedom trajectory,” is important for safety and for the comfort of the passenger. “The
main limitation in high speed EDS maglev has been vertical stability,” said Gutierrez. “In human use, like a train, this translates to poor ride quality.
In military use, such as missile launching, vertical instability could result in catastrophic failure.”
The ONR Young Investigator award is the second highest federal award to junior faculty. The program is designed to attract to naval research outstanding
new faculty members, to support their research and to encourage their teaching and research careers. Gutierrez is one of only 26 junior faculty to earn the
grant this year. Typically, about 10 percent of the submitted proposals result in YIP awards, and most of the applicants have outstanding careers and have
already received other important federal awards.
Florida Tech offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering.