CAMBRIDGE, MA-- A cloud computing service under development at Draper Laboratory could provide insights that enable public health preparedness and response officials to more quickly limit the severity of emerging public health crises, whether due to bioterrorism, novel influenza pandemics, or other disease outbreaks.
Draper leads a team of researchers developing the Collaborative Overarching Multi-feed Biosurveillance System (COMBS), a system that will use a cloud-based network to gather a broader range of public data from social media, blogs, search trends, open source information such as news, as well as traditional health information sources to create a dynamic, diverse data stream. COMBS includes comprehensive tools for the visualization and interpretation of the data – allowing analysts unprecedented access to biosurveillance data that will enable real-time decision making by public health officials.
In 2012’s National Strategy for Biosurveillance, the White House called for improved biosurveillance capabilities to increase responsiveness to natural and deliberate threats. Biosurveillance is the set of activities that identify health incidents quickly, and support rapid and effective decision making “at all levels.” The threats include natural ones such as SARS and the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, plus malevolent threats like the Anthrax attacks. Existing biosurveillance systems are better equipped to handle post-event analysis based on lab tests than to gather pre-event or very early indicators that can lead to rapid preventive measures. Those systems were usually developed for a single purpose, not addressing interagency collaboration, or rapidly evolving data sources.
On June 14, the White House published the National Biosurveillance Science and Technology Roadmap to identify and prioritize research and development toward the goals of the strategy. One of the objectives in the Roadmap, which COMBS directly supports, is to “enhance information integration, analysis, and sharing platforms for improved situational awareness of biosurveillance information at all levels, including with international partners, as appropriate.”
COMBS will enable the collection, integration, analysis, and visualization of traditional and non-traditional sources of widely varying publicly available data and emerging data sources, to monitor real-time conditions affecting human, animal, and environmental health. This One Health approach is essential due to the ways humans are encountering new diseases on farms and from wildlife, especially in developing-world countries.
Using an app-store approach for data and app provisioning, COMBS will provide a user-customizable, flexible analytic environment that strongly supports collaboration between the many public health agencies responsible for keeping Americans healthy and for supporting building health capacity around the world. For the first time, biosurveillance analysis capabilities will be highly flexible and integrative of many participants with different needs and perspectives. Further, COMBS’ user-friendly orientation for decision-support and collaboration, will enable faster, smarter decisions by public health officials.
COMBS data and tools will exist in a computational cloud environment, designed to enable broad data collection and powerful analytic calculations. It is designed to facilitate commercial use and support of the technology, to best support a wide range of government and non-governmental organizations. Data providers, app developers, health device providers, and other business interests could benefit from providing information to the COMBS ecosystem, or providing services based on COMBS.
In addition to its use by the public health community, COMBS will enable broader awareness of U.S. and world health status and implications, by the public, news organizations, public interest groups, and other businesses. App developers will find the COMBS app store to be an attractive marketplace for their offerings to enhance data visualization, statistical analysis, simulations, forecasts, and predictions.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is DOD’s agency for countering weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives. Under its Biosurveillance Ecosystem program, DTRA funds via contract support through the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, multiple teams via a competitive prototype process and has continued funding for the COMBS project, valued at more than $2 million, for a total of 12 months through Phase 2. Phase 2, which began on June 14, involves demonstrating significant improvements in biosurveillance analyst workflow effectiveness, including integration of numerous outside data sources.
Draper researchers estimate COMBS could be in place for broader access by 2016 following the expected completion of the funded work, including two more one-year phases to be awarded based on performance.
CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Jeffrey M. Bentley joined Draper Laboratory earlier this year as Vice President for Civil Programs, a newly-created position. He is responsible for growing the Laboratory’s biomedical engineering and energy systems programs, as well as other new projects outside of Draper’s traditional focus on national security and space.
Bentley has worked in the energy field for 25 years, and brings an array of executive leadership experience from previous positions at energy, high tech, and consulting organizations. He was a vice president and business manager in the energy technology practice at Arthur D. Little (ADL), and went on to found two startup companies based on fuel cell technology developed by ADL.
The successor of these companies, Nuvera Fuel Cells in Billerica, Massachusetts, is now a division of Amerada Hess and a leader in fuel cells for mobility applications. He next led a spinout of an instrumentation equipment business from Lynntech in College Station, Texas. The company, Fideris, Inc., grew to become the leader in test equipment solutions for the battery, fuel cell and process industries. For the last five years, he was the CEO of CellTech Power, leading the development of an innovative technology for the direct production of electricity from petroleum, biomass and coal with support from the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense and commercial sponsors.
“Jeff will play a key role in continuing to mature our energy and biomedical work,” said Jim Shields, Draper president & CEO. “His breadth of experience with both government and commercial sponsors coupled with his passion for developing and delivering energy and biomedical solutions that make a difference in the world will help to ensure the successful application of Draper’s technologies to important new work for this Laboratory.”
Bentley holds an S.B. and S.M. Degrees in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Draper Laboratory elected Franklin Miller, who served in senior positions at the Pentagon, State Department and White House under both Democratic and Republican presidents, as Chairman of the Board at a board session following its annual meeting on Oct. 5.
Draper also welcomed Joanne Maguire, a former executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems, and Lena Goldberg, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, to its Board of Directors, and Michael Wallace, director of the nuclear energy policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), as a member of its Corporation.
Miller, who served as a senior nuclear policy and arms control advisor in the administrations of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, has served on Draper’s Board of Directors since 2007. He is also a principal at the Scowcroft Group, an international business advisory firm.
He is a member of the U.S. Strategic Command Advisory Group and the Defense Policy Board, as well as a Director of the Board of EADS-North American and a Senior Advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ International Security Program.
A five-time recipient of the Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, DoD’s highest civilian award, Miller has been honored with numerous other awards including the Distinguished Honor Medal from the Department of State and the Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Medal from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Miller succeeds John Gordon, a retired Air Force general, who had served as chairman since 2008.
“Frank Miller brings a wealth of leadership and advisory experience from across the spectrum of U.S. strategic defense, policy, and foreign relations to his role as Chair of the Board,” said Draper President & CEO James D. Shields. “His expertise will help Draper build on its successes and develop new initiatives in support of national interests.”
Maguire has served as a Member of Draper’s Corporation, which advises the Laboratory’s president on strategic direction, since 2010. Fortune Magazine has included her on its annual list of “50 Most Powerful Women in Industry” four times, and she received the Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) Upward Mobility Award in recognition of her contributions to aerospace engineering and diversity management.
Goldberg, who has served as a Member of the Corporation since 2008, is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation; an executive fellow of the Boston Bar Foundation, serving as president of the Foundation from 2003 to 2004; and a former member of the Boston Bar Association’s council and diversity committee. She formerly worked as executive vice president for strategic corporate initiatives as well as executive vice president and general counsel at Fidelity Investments.
CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Troops under the gun during battle can more easily call in airstrikes -- and reduce friendly and civilian casualties while doing so -- through using an Android app that the military is developing with an industry group led by Draper Laboratory.
Troops can also use ATAK (Android Terminal Assault Kit), for other purposes, including battlespace awareness, navigation, de-conflicting airspace, and controlling fleets of unmanned aerial vehicles. Draper also recently added survey tools for quickly building new landing zones, as well as a Jumpmaster tool that enables paratroopers to plan high altitude, low opening jumps, and track each other and supplies as they descend.
Special Forces recently began limited use of a prototype of the app during operations overseas, and wider fielding could follow next year.
Draper is working with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate in Rome, N.Y., to develop the app’s video whiteboarding capability, and incorporate user input into new features. Draper began working on the app under the informal name “TacDroid” in 2010.
A screen shot from ATAK shows the app’s video whiteboarding capability that enables troops to visualize an area and mark points of interest.
In initial operations in Afghanistan, troops called in airstrikes using GPS receivers, while keeping a wide variety of information including the location of friendly forces and civilians; as well as the status of nearby aircraft and their approaching speeds, time they may reach targets, and munitions onboard, in their heads, and discussing it with pilots in aircraft overhead. This created the potential for transcription, communication and memory errors.
The military later upgraded this capability with rugged laptop computers that are primarily useful for mission planning and some vehicle mounted operations, even though they are intended for field use by dismounted troops. While the laptops are small, the software is better suited for use in operations centers than in the midst of battle, causing some troops to avoid taking them on missions.
ATAK uses the Android OS to introduce a mobile computing solution through tablets and other handheld devices that connect with military radios and boot up quickly, are more intuitive to operate during the stress of battle, minimize heads-down time, and much easier to carry than the laptops. Tablets can fit into cargo pockets in pants and jackets; smaller handheld devices can be strapped to wrists and forearms.
Draper designed ATAK to be a map-based interface that enables the troops on the ground and those in aircraft to share information and maintain constant situational awareness. Troops on the ground can use the app to add context to raw video feeds, such as labeling buildings as schools or hospitals so they are avoided during battle, or designating pickup points for evacuation. This whiteboarding capability minimizes the need for discussion over voice channels during battle or other situations where it is faster to graphically designate points of interest.
“It’s one thing for a user behind a desk in a climate-controlled office to toggle back and forth between 10 windows, deal with system crashes, and wait 60 seconds for booting up,” said Laura Major, who leads Draper’s human centered engineering work. “It’s another thing to deal with those issues while someone is shooting at you or if you're jumping out of a plane. That's where ATAK comes in. “
The military services have used ATAK during variety of live-fire exercises with aircraft including F16s and A10s, and have demonstrated the ability to call in airstrikes that successfully neutralized targets with at least 50% fewer clicks from the users than the laptop-based systems. Operators who used the app during the exercises also indicated that by keeping all of the information in a well organized, easy to access display, the likelihood of friendly fire accidents, civilian casualties and collateral damage would be significantly reduced.
Draper engineers went through military training exercises that replicated some of the challenges that troops face in the field in order to better understand the way they think. Doing so enabled the engineers to design the app so that troops could use it after watching an embedded 15 minute video, rather than go through days or weeks of training as is typical with the alternative systems.
Draper Laboratory helped celebrate its 80 years of national service and 40th anniversary as an independent research and development lab by participating in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Guidance, Navigation and Control conference held in Boston the week of August 19-22.
The field of Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) is one of the cornerstones that the lab was built upon: Dr. Charles Stark Draper, the lab’s founder, is known as the father of inertial navigation, and his innovations allowed the U.S. to land on the moon and is crucial in current missile guidance technologies.
Reflecting the diversity of Draper’s research projects, a technical display booth showcased Draper research from five main areas: space exploration, guidance and microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS), and biomedical engineering and energy. In addition to presenting six technical papers and serving as session chairs on various technical topics, Draper staff also organized an overview of the field titled “The History and Future Directions of Inertial Navigation-enabled GN&C.” Draper also sponsored a reception for all AIAA conference attendees on August 21st.
Panel session topics chaired by Draper staff included modeling and simulation, adaptive flight control methods, fault-tolerant controls, and Earth science information and decision systems.
CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Draper Laboratory celebrated 80 years of service to the nation on September 17th with a luncheon attended by policy makers and leaders from the City of Cambridge and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Speakers at the event included Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis, Massachusetts State Representative Marjorie Decker, Draper President & CEO Jim Shields, Biomedical Systems Group Leader Dr. Jim Comolli, Biomedical Engineer Dr. Joe Charest, and Community Relations Manager Kathleen Granchelli.
Mayor Henrietta Davis kicked off the event with the presentation of a congratulatory resolution from the Cambridge City Council, recognizing the Lab as “a valued neighbor and friend to the City of Cambridge, a partner in our schools, an engaged civic presence in business and community, and an ally in sustainability.”
Next, Massachusetts State Representative Marjorie Decker congratulated Draper with a citation signed by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo “in recognition for 80 years of service to our nation.” She presented it to Jim Shields with State Representatives Jay Livingstone and David Rogers.
Draper’s President & CEO Jim Shields provided an overview on Draper’s founding by Dr. Charles Stark Draper at MIT and the Lab’s 40th anniversary as an independent, not-for-profit organization chartered to do R&D in the national interest and to support advanced technical education. He reflected on the Laboratory’s unique role in bridging technology development between early-stage academic research and for-profit industry.
Since then, Draper has contributed innovative solutions to challenges in areas including defense, space exploration, energy systems, and biomedical applications. Draper is able to rapidly advance the boundaries of science and technology, taking promising emerging technologies from leading research universities and working with sponsors to determine the feasibility of ideas, and ultimately developing first-of-their-kind prototypes. In this way, Draper carries innovative ideas forward and delivers feasible solutions to real world problems to the for-profit industry. Shields attributes Draper’s success to remaining true to Doc Draper’s original intentions – remaining committed to “making things that work.”
Two examples of current research in biomedical engineering that hold great promise for improving healthcare outcomes for seriously ill patients were presented by Dr. Jim Comolli, who discussed a method to trap respiratory viruses before they are able to infect a person, and Dr. Joe Charest, who presented his research on organ-assist technology for patients with impaired organ function.
Kathleen Granchelli concluded the event, noting Draper’s roots in Cambridge: “We never forget the significance of being rooted in Cambridge…this city provides a unique community, a stimulating Mecca of outstanding leaders and management, robust city services which contribute to the viability of doing business, and the opportunity to work in collaboration with other businesses, civic partners, educational institutions, and the Cambridge schools. As we look ahead, we know the vitality of Cambridge will continue to enrich our business, help to attract new staff, and continue to serve as both a rich foundation for and launching pad to a successful future.”
CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Draper Laboratory congratulates Sara Seager, an MIT professor who collaborated with the Lab on the development of a tiny spacecraft that could hunt for exoplanets, for her inclusion with the 2013 class of MacArthur Fellows.
Draper collaborated with Seager, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist, on the development of ExoPlanetSat, a cubesat just 10 centimeters tall, 10cm wide and 30cm long, that could look for planets that orbit stars other than the sun. ExoPlanetSat could enable NASA to dedicate relatively inexpensive assets to stare at a single star for long periods of time to look for transits – decreases in brightness that suggest a previously unmapped Earth-size planet passed between the viewer and the star.
Draper contributed expertise in optics, guidance, navigation and control technology to develop an arc-second (1/3600th of a degree) class pointing and stabilization system for ExoPlanetSat. The Lab also contributed funding to Seager’s work with MIT students to design the spacecraft’s platform, or bus.
In a Sept. 24 news release, the MacArthur Foundation credits Seager with “quickly advancing a subfield initially viewed with skepticism by the scientific community,” and hailed ExoPlanetSat for its potential to “open up a new avenue for wide-ranging space exploration.”
CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Draper Laboratory will play a key role in two upcoming space missions to be launched in early September. The first mission is a NASA project as the agency launches a spacecraft to help better understand the composition of atmosphere of the Moon and other exospheric bodies in the solar system. The second mission is a joint NASA and Orbital Sciences Corporation mission to launch and demonstrate the capabilities of an unmanned spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), which is scheduled to be launched aboard a Minotaur V rocket on Sept. 6 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, features an Ultraviolet and Visible Light Spectrometer built by Draper that will determine the composition of the lunar atmosphere by analyzing light signatures of materials that it finds, according to NASA’s website.
Approximately 10 days later, the Cygnus Advanced Maneuvering Spacecraft will be launched for the first time, also from Wallops. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., developed Cygnus under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. It will be launched aboard Orbital’s new Antares rocket. Following the upcoming COTS Demonstration Mission, Cygnus will conduct eight operational missions to deliver cargo including crew supplies and scientific equipment to the ISS through 2016, a role previously handled by the now-retired Space Shuttle.
Draper developed the guidance and navigation systems for the Cygnus spacecraft, and provided fault tolerant computer support as well.
Draper’s contributions to these missions build on the lab’s legacy of support to NASA , which began with the Lab’s design of the Apollo guidance computer, and has continued with programs including ISS and the Space Shuttle.
CAMBRIDGE, MA-- NASA honored Jeb Orr, a Draper Laboratory engineer, with its top engineering award for his contribution to the Space Launch System (SLS), which is intended to enable human exploration of the universe beyond Earth orbit.
Orr received the Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal during a July 30 ceremony at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Orr leads Draper’s work in flight mechanics and control system design for SLS, where he has developed novel approaches to analyzing and optimizing the performance of the control system during SLS's critical eight-minute ascent into space.
Orr's contributions as a member of the Marshall SLS team include new methods to accurately predict how the rocket's flexible structure and liquid propellants interact with the on-board sensors and software during flight.
The Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal is awarded for contributions that have fundamental importance to the engineering field, significantly enhanced understanding of this field, or have significantly advanced the state of the practice as demonstrated by an application to aerospace systems, according to NASA’s website. Honorees have accomplishments that “are far above others in quality, scope, and impact,” according to the website.
CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Damaged organs could be repaired in the near future with devices enabled by a manufacturing technique used today for components in mobile phones and other consumer electronics. Researchers at Draper Laboratory and MIT demonstrated a prototype device using this approach under contract to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The long term goal for the research is to develop implantable, fully functioning artificial tissues and organs.
In an early view article published online by Advanced Materials, Lisa E. Freed, the principal investigator for the project at Draper Laboratory and MIT, and Martin E. Kolewe, a post doctoral associate at MIT, adapted a semi-automated layer-by-layer assembly method commonly used to build integrated circuits in the electronics packaging industry to instead stack porous, flexible, biodegradable elastomer sheets to form three dimensional (3-D) scaffolds on which tissues can be grown. The breakthrough allows researchers to build controlled 3-D pore networks that guide cells to grow in precise patterns, as is seen in highly specialized tissues like heart and skeletal muscle.
Cells in a human heart rely on a variety of spatial and chemical cues to form the hierarchical organization that results in a complete and functional organ. “Function follows form, especially when we try to create artificial tissue,” Kolewe said, explaining that the researchers first identified key structural cues that could guide specific cell growth patterns, and then replicated these cues in their scaffolds to grow specific tissue architectures. The researchers were able to grow contractile heart tissue from rat heart cells using their 3-D scaffolds.
Before this work, researchers intent on growing human tissues lacked the ability to precisely control the 3-D pore structure of scaffolds in many types of polymers, instead relying on 2-dimensional templates, random 3D pore structures, or amorphous gelatin. While relatively simple organs like bladders can be grown using such methods, for more complex tissues like the heart or the brain a 3-D structure to guide specialized cell growth patterns is necessary. “Scaffolds that guide 3-D cellular arrangements can enable the fabrication of tissues large enough to be of clinical relevance, and now we have developed a new tool to help do this,” Freed said.
Freed explains that this work is driven by “the shortage of human tissue in medicine,” explaining that this technology could be implemented to facilitate the growth or regrowth of specific tissues in people with congenital defects or traumatic damage to their tissues or organs. The flexible scaffolds could be implanted at the site of the injury to guide cellular growth, afterwards dissolving harmlessly into the body. Biomedical researchers can also take advantage of these scaffolds for purposes including studying tissue development and identifying key cues that prompt a blob of heart cells to grow into a fully functional, beating heart muscle, for example.
The new design paradigm of controlling the network pore structure marks a huge improvement on the current methods used to grow human tissues, and will enable researchers to explore innovative new treatments and research possibilities.
“This novel fabrication technology highlights how the NIH’s investment in regenerative medicine may soon improve the lives of patients with damaged or diseased organs,” noted Martha Lundberg, a program director at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which supported this study. “This work could be a potentially significant advance in tissue engineering that will lead to new tissue-based therapies aimed at restoring organ function.”
The work was funded by a grant to MIT from the NHLBI of the NIH under award number R01HL107503. Its content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. Other authors of the Advanced Materials paper were Hyoungshin Park and Caprice Gray from Draper and Xiaofeng Ye and Robert Langer from MIT. The authors dedicated the paper to the memory of MIT police officer Sean Collier.
CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Lars Dyrud has joined Draper Laboratory, where he now leads the Lab’s Earth and Space Science Programs.
Dyrud, who holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from Boston University, previously worked at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, as a Supervisor in the Earth and Geospace Science Group, and founded the APL Center for Public/Private Partnerships, which organizes, advises and manages cooperative efforts to bring down the cost of space missions for government sponsors.
Dyrud has advised government sponsors including NASA, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, U.S. Geological Survey, the National Science Foundation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on alternative access to space architectures, such as using cubesats and hosted payloads on satellites like the Iridium telecommunications constellation to gather data on issues including climate change.
At Draper, Dyrud will continue his work on projects and mission concepts such as Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s Earth Radiation Imbalance System (ERIS), NASA’s Radiometer Assessment Using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN), and the National Science Foundation’s GEOScan – all of which entail using constellations of satellites to view and understand the Earth as a complete and interactive system, which may lead to better the understanding of climate change and the global carbon cycle.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – NASA deployed an improved Air Quality Monitoring (AQM) system in March that helps better monitor potentially harmful chemicals in the air on the International Space Station. The microAnalyzer V2.0, which was developed by Draper Laboratory, is currently being used on the International Space Station.
Astronauts breathe air that is processed and re-circulated within the spacecraft or station. Constant exposure to harmful compounds in the air, even in trace amounts, endangers their health. Harmful compounds can come from the out-gassing of onboard components, leaks from equipment or experiments, or from mishaps or off-nominal conditions such as fires.
The microAnalyzer V2.0 combines complementary technologies including sample concentration, gas chromatography, and Draper’s Differential Mobility Spectrometer (DMS). DMS acts as a tunable filter allowing only the compounds of interest to be detected while “filtering out” the irrelevant information, or interferents. The microAnalyzer V2.0 is capable of detecting ultra-trace concentrations of compounds at parts per trillion levels. “This sensitivity coupled with the compound filtering capability of the sensor is critical for NASA’s needs on ISS,” according to John West, a program manager in Draper’s Space Systems group.
The new version of the microanalyzer improves upon the previous version by increasing performance in sensitivity and selectivity; making filter packs field replaceable, which reduces the logistics burden of sending complete units back and forth from the ISS; and adding a sample purge mode. The new model also integrates an embedded computer, wireless networking, and touch screen interface, eliminating the need to connect to external laptop computers aboard the ISS. The embedded computer enables the system to shift some functions from the ISS crew to personnel on Earth, and enables the system to give constant status updates to the crew, rather than periodic readings when astronauts hook up an external computer, as was the case with previous versions.
Draper, which has been a major contributor to manned space programs with NASA beginning with the Apollo missions, built 23 new microAnalyzers for NASA under contract with Wyle Laboratories Inc.
In addition to air quality monitoring in space, Draper’s microAnalyzer systems are used for threat detection (chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals and materials, explosives, IED’s), industrial processing, industrial health and safety, and breath analysis to detect markers on breath indicating ailments and disease such as cancer and tuberculosis.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Engineers at Draper and MIT are collaborating with NASA to develop specialized suits that could enable astronauts to explore asteroids and repair satellites, as well as make it easier for them to live and work in and around space stations.
Astronauts conducting extravehicular activities (EVAs, or spacewalks) risk floating away if they do many of the things that are taken for granted on Earth, such as turning a wrench while servicing a satellite, or digging with a shovel during exploration. While their current spacesuits include a jetpack that can take them back to their position on the International Space Station should they float away, a free-floating suited astronaut is not able to counteract the forces and torques that are generated during spacewalking tasks, something that gravity handles here on Earth
Incorporating Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMGs) on an external spacesuit’s jetpack would keep the astronauts stable by adding attitude control to offset torques and forces and increase range of motion, said Bobby Cohanim, Draper’s Mission Design Group leader.
Servicing on operational satellites has required tethering onto the space shuttle for stability, but a spacesuit based on this technology could enable astronauts to rendezvous with the spacecraft and make repairs in free space. Using the CMGs would conserve propellant in the jetpacks, reducing mass and extending potential exploration time.
Draper and MIT hope to test the jetpack and CMG system in the Virtual Reality Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center this summer. The project is funded internally at Draper with focused collaboration with MIT and NASA Johnson Space Center.
Draper is also developing wearable modules that use CMGs to simulate the resistance of gravity to improve astronaut performance while living and working inside a space vehicle or space station.
Simulating the effects of gravity with the Variable Vector Countermeasure suit is especially important because it could help astronauts adapt to new gravity environments, or offset the effects of prolonged weightlessness on the human body, like muscle and bone loss, said Kevin Duda, Draper’s principal investigator on the V2Suit.
There is no gravitational down in space, so the researchers are developing algorithms for tracking the module orientation and velocity with respect to a specified direction of “down.” An astronaut will be able to specify their orientation and which direction the simulated force of gravity acts. This work is currently a Phase II project funded by NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC).
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Landslides, which can destroy entire communities and are on the rise due to climate change, are more often caused by rainfall accumulated over long periods than single storms. Engineers at Draper Laboratory and MIT are working under contract to NASA to develop a statistical model that can identify areas where landslides are most likely to occur so that preparations can be made to better respond to a crisis.
“By accurately predicting where landslides are most likely to occur, we can initiate timely preventive measures that will save lives and prevent property damage,” said Natasha Markuzon, Draper’s lead technical investigator.
The study found that when cumulative precipitation is high and the underlying soil is saturated with moisture, a few days of heavy rain increases the probability of landslide occurrences. However, if the underlying soil has not been saturated by months of consistent precipitation, then an intense storm is relatively harmless. Markuzon suggests a possible explanation for this finding is the soil underneath was eroded from months of consistent rain, leaving the ground unstable.
The team, led by Catherine Slesnick, the principal investigator of the project at Draper, and Markuzon, collected 33 years worth of historical data, ranging from 1966-1999, on 577 landslides that occurred in the Seattle, Washington, area from local databases, national reports, and newspaper archives. They were also provided with hourly precipitation data from that time period by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Facing a mountain of data, they developed a machine learning algorithm to efficiently determine what factors were strongly associated with landslide occurrences.
The next phase of the project will focus on further understanding the effects of climate change on landslide activity, and developing recommendations aimed at prevention of loss of life and financial damages due to landslides.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – NASA can begin testing landing instruments for future missions to the Moon or Mars under realistic conditions without leaving Earth, thanks to a capability demonstrated with Draper Laboratory during a series of flight tests that concluded on March 25.
The testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California represented the first terrestrial demonstration of an autonomously guided rocket flying a planetary landing trajectory. The testing utilized Draper’s GENIE (Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment) system actively controlling a Masten Xombie terrestrial test rocket. GENIE is an Autonomous Guidance, Navigation, and Control (AGNC) avionics system that is the only system available today capable of precision planetary landings with real-time, autonomous trajectory planning and hazard avoidance maneuvers.
This testing clears the way for researchers to use Draper’s GENIE System and Masten Space Systems’ terrestrial rockets like Xombie to test and validate a breadth of future planetary landing instruments, sensors, and algorithms.
NASA has generally relied on computer simulations to test new instruments, as available aircraft cannot fly trajectories that replicate planetary landings. Using GENIE and terrestrial rockets to mimic a spacecraft’s final approach to the Moon and Mars here on Earth, NASA can flight demonstrate whether new technology is ready for operational use without a costly space launch.
During the March 25 testing in the Mojave, Draper used GENIE to guide the Xombie rocket to an altitude of approximately 500 meters –higher than the Empire State Building in New York City – before landing safely 300 meters down range to replicate the speed and angle of a lunar or Mars approach and landing trajectory. Draper also used GENIE to guide the rocket to approximately 240 meters before landing safely 50 meters downrange on March 22 as an initial validation of this planetary landing flight profile.
Previous flight testing took place in the Mojave in December 2011 and January 2012.
A video of the demonstration can be found on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/xMQeNIqRyZw
The GENIE precision landing AGNC system was developed jointly between Draper and the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) under the Autonomous Landing Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) effort, and is being flown under contract with NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program managed by Dryden Flight Research Center for the Space Technology Mission Directorate. The GENIE system builds upon Draper’s technical heritage from the Apollo Program lunar landing system and the Space Shuttle GNC system.
Xombie is one of a series of rockets being built by Masten to support terrestrial test flights. Masten won the Northrop Grumman Lander Challenge in 2009.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory promoted Jeffrey Borenstein, a senior biomedical engineer, to Laboratory Technical Staff— the top engineering designation at Draper.
Borenstein is Draper’s principal investigator of three NIH grants on artificial organs and drug delivery devices, and lead for the Draper engineering contract on a joint program with MIT aimed at creating a human “physiome on a chip.” The project aims to develop a system for testing the safety and efficacy of drugs using human cells on a platform of miniature interacting organ models. He also holds several fundamental patents on use of MEMS technology to build artificial organs.
Borenstein has worked for Draper for 19 years. For the last 10 years he has worked in biomedical engineering. Borenstein began his career at Draper as a fabrication manager, working on micro-electromechanical systems. After six years as manager, he spent two years as group leader in the MEMS program.
In his time at Draper, he has mentored numerous fellows and young engineers, and received multiple awards including the Distinguished Performance Award in 2001, the Best Publication Award in 2004, and was a member of the research group that won the team Distinguished Performance Award in 2012.
Draper’s Laboratory Technical Staff members contribute to strategic planning, mentor other engineers, provide technical guidance to shape or redirect programs inside and outside the Lab, and hold national recognition on a national advisory board and/or customer program offices.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory promoted Tim Gibson, the Lab's assistant director of cyber systems, to Laboratory Technical Staff—the top engineering designation at Draper.
Gibson is currently Draper’s principal investigator on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) High Assurance Cyber Mobile Systems (HACMS) program and technical lead for Draper’s internally funded Cyber Physical System’s project. He has developed a cyber portfolio at Draper that builds on the Lab’s expertise in electronics, miniaturization, and reliable software.
Gibson also serves as Draper Lab’s representative on the Steering Committee for the Advanced Cyber Security Center, a non-profit corporation launched and supported by Mass Insight Global Partnerships that brings together industry, university, and government organizations to address sophisticated cyber security challenge.
Before coming to Draper, Gibson served as the director of cyber security development at Hewlett-Packard, and spent more than 30 years in uniformed and civilian positions at the Department of Defense. He handled cyber issues in positions including program manager of the DARPA’s strategic technology office, director of technology for the Joint Task Force for Computer Network Operations, and chief of computer security and theater information assurance at U.S. Pacific Command.
Gibson, a retired U.S. Army colonel, holds a PhD in computer science from the University of Maryland, Masters’ degrees in computer science and history from the University of Kansas, and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from West Point.
Draper’s Laboratory Technical Staff members contribute to strategic planning, mentor other engineers, provide technical guidance to shape or redirect programs inside and outside the Lab, and hold national recognition on a national advisory board and/or customer program offices.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory promoted Dianne Turney, a senior mission assured systems software engineer, to Laboratory Technical Staff— the top engineering designation at Draper.
Turney has worked at Draper for 28 years. She is currently the Chief Software Engineer for Special Technical Systems.
She started at Draper in the hardware department where she designed and developed numerous systems including the Airborne Performance Monitoring System installed in Air Force 1. After 8 years, she transitioned to the software department and has served as technical director, task leader, and lead engineer on numerous programs including the Modular Avionics System Architectures project. For the past 10 years, she has led tasks to design, develop, and integrate operating systems, algorithms, calibration, and test software for the Trident Mk6 submarine-launched ballistic missile guidance system. She holds a patent in “Systems and Methods for Reconfigurable Computing,” which is a processing chip that increases efficiency by reconfiguring gates to modify chip functionality based on mode of operation.
Draper’s Laboratory Technical Staff members contribute to strategic planning, mentor other engineers, provide technical guidance to shape or redirect programs inside and outside the Lab, and hold national recognition on a national advisory board and/or customer program offices.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) presented the mobile phone pioneers who laid the groundwork for today’s smartphone with engineering’s top award during a Feb. 19 ceremony in Washington.
The NAE honored Martin Cooper, Joel Engel, Richard Frenkiel, Thomas Haug, and Yoshihisa Okumura with the Charles Stark Draper Prize, which annually recognizes engineers whose work has proven invaluable to society, and is considered the Nobel Prize of engineering. The prize includes a $500,000 award.
The concept of a cell phone network grew out of AT&T and Bell Labs, where Joel Engel and Richard Frenkiel were among the first engineers to develop a design for the first cellular telephone system.
Other contributions came from Yoshihisa Okumura of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Basic Research Laboratories in Japan, who studied signal propagation in urban, suburban and rural areas, and Thomas Haug of Nordic Mobile Telephony, a key figure in the standardization of cell networks across countries.
Martin Cooper, who led Motorola’s mobile phone research, unveiled the first hand-held cell phone in 1973.
“We anticipated an experience that matched, or even exceeded, landline telephones,” said Engel, who had previously worked on a satellite stabilization system at the MIT Instrumentation Lab, later renamed as Draper Laboratory. “The ability to roam to distant cities and to be able to make and receive calls was part of the original plan, but we thought of it as a business service and certainly did not anticipate its popularity.”
The Charles Stark Draper Prize was established and endowed by Draper Laboratory in 1988 in tribute to its founder, Dr. Charles Stark Draper, who pioneered inertial navigation.
“More often than not, a technology’s true impact on society is not understood until decades after its development, when it is taken for granted as part of our daily routine,” said Draper President James Shields. “Doc understood that long-term impact is a true measure of engineering success. By awarding the prize to engineers who have demonstrated a similar level of accomplishment and innovation in their own respective fields, we seek to publicly recognize those whose work has impacted daily life, and significantly improved the well-being and freedom of humanity.”
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation honored Draper Laboratory as an economic driver in the Tampa area during a Feb. 9 ceremony.
ARCS’ STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Economic Driver Award is given annually to an individual or organization whose STEM initiatives and partnerships substantially improved jobs, regional growth and economic development.
“In addition to building multiple productive partnerships that address major societal issues like new medicines, national security, energy, and STEM education, Draper Laboratory has, through their active participation in regional events like the St. Petersburg Science Festival, rapidly become an important part of the fabric of our community,” said Peter Betzer, president and chief executive officer of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, who presented Draper with the award.
Draper operates a Biomedical Engineering Facility on the campus on the University of South Florida in Tampa, and a Microelectronics Fabrication Facility in St. Petersburg. USF students work with Draper as interns and fellows, and the Lab has conducted STEM outreach at the K-12 level, including being a founding sponsor of the St. Petersburg Science Festival.
Over the past year, Draper doubled the size of its Biomedical Engineering Facility to 20,000 square feet, and signed an affiliation agreement with USF that will help expand the current collaboration on research and development with the university.
“Draper’s business strategy calls for significant growth in all of these sectors: biomedical engineering, energy, and special programs for the security of our nation,” John Burns, Draper’s Microelectronics Fabrication Facility director, said at the ceremony. “Our many partnerships in Florida are key to this growth, and we expect to grow our staff in Tampa Bay and our support to STEM initiatives.”
Also at the event, Shankar Sundaram, director of Draper’s Biomedical Engineering Facility, presented ARCS’ STEM Collaborative Award to Gulf Oil Spill First Responders, a group that included USF, whose representatives included Judy Genshaft, USF president, and Karen Holbrook, USF senior vice president for global affairs and international research; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the U.S. Coast Guard; Florida Wildlife Resource Commission and Fisheries; Eckerd College; and other organizations affiliated with the Florida Institute of Oceanography. These organizations monitored the potential movement of oil and analyzed the threat that it posed to recreational and commercial industries in Florida following BP’s Deep Water Horizon oil spill.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) honored Draper engineers Neil Adams, Linda Fuhrman, Lauren Kessler, and Leena Singh as Associate Fellows for 2013 during the 51st AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Grapevine, Texas on Jan. 7.
The distinction is awarded to individuals who are AIAA Senior Members with at least twelve years of professional experience, outstanding work or contributions to the field of aeronautics or astronautics and recommendations from at least three current Associate Fellows. AIAA is the largest aerospace technical society in the world.
Neil Adams is currently the director of Tactical Systems at Draper. He has been involved with the design of Guidance, Navigation, and Control Systems for over 25 years, the development of autonomous technology for over 15 years, and previously served as Draper’s director of algorithms and software engineering. In 1995, he received Draper’s Distinguished Performance Award for development of the Space Shuttle Flight Control System for operations involving the Russian MIR Space Station.
Linda Fuhrman is currently the Technical Director for Draper’s efforts in support of the Dream Chaser Commercial Crew Development Program. She has worked over 25 years in developing, managing, and implementing space flight systems for NASA, with 13 years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and over 10 years at Draper Laboratory. She has led numerous program developments and marketing efforts for space-based science missions and instruments and support for the manned space flight program. She has received numerous Group Achievement Awards from NASA and received AIAA’s New England Engineer of the Year Award in 2005.
Lauren Kessler specializes in the cross-fertilization of human-in-the-loop, autonomy, and avionics technologies among the aerospace, undersea, biomedical and energy domains. She has worked at Draper for the past nine years, and is Division Staff for the Information and Decision Systems (IDS) division. She is currently working on the development of advanced clinical decision systems as well as novel methods for test and evaluation of intelligent autonomous systems. She is a commercially rated helicopter pilot, and is the Civil Air Patrol Assistant Inspector General for Massachusetts.
Leena Singh is Draper’s group leader for strategic and space guidance & control efforts. Over the past 10 years at Draper, she has worked on the control of autonomous systems and has expertise in a range of guidance and control theory methods including Model Predictive Control. She has developed feedback control solutions for autonomous control for an Army parafoil program, investigated and flight tested control systems for small autonomous helicopters, and developed control algorithms for autonomous spacecraft rendezvous and docking, and missile avoidance. Leena is a member of the AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Technical Committee and served as the Conference Technical Chair of the 2011 AIAA-GNC conference.
CAMBRIDGE, MA (Jan. 15, 2013) - The University of South Florida and Draper Laboratory have signed an affiliation agreement that formalizes and expands upon their existing relationship to collaborate on research and development.
The agreement, which was signed by USF President Judy Genshaft and Draper President Jim Shields, also enables Draper’s Florida staff to serve as adjunct faculty members at the university, allowing more effective collaboration between Draper and USF, including access to USF equipment and laboratories and co-supervision of student research.
“The partnership between the University of South Florida and Draper Laboratory has been a productive and promising one, and we look forward to even greater discoveries and innovations to come,” said USF President Judy Genshaft. “This partnership is an excellent example of what can be achieved when research entities work together and leverage their strengths to confront some of the world's most challenging diseases and medical disorders.”
“This agreement deepens Draper’s already strong connection with USF,” Shields said. “It will help us expand our collaboration on biomedical engineering, and position us to move into new areas of joint research as well. Being affiliated with a university of USF’s caliber strengthens our Florida operations, which play a critical strategic role for Draper’s future.”
Draper opened its Biomedical Engineering Facility on the USF Campus in 2009, and also operates an MCM Facility in St. Petersburg. USF and Draper currently collaborate on projects including development of devices to study the life cycle of malaria and therapeutics to treat the disease. That work is conducted under a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Draper and USF are also collaborating as part of a national consortium studying ways to integrate all sources of medical data to provide real time decision support to clinicians in intensive care units and emergency rooms.
The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF ranks 50th in the nation for federal expenditures in research and total expenditures in research among all U.S. universities, public or private, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving more than 47,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.
Draper Laboratory, which celebrates 80 years of service to the nation in 2013, is a not-for-profit, engineering research and development organization dedicated to solving critical national problems in national security, space systems, biomedical systems, and energy. Core capabilities include guidance, navigation and control; miniature low power systems; highly reliable complex systems; information and decision systems; autonomous systems; biomedical and chemical systems; and secure networks and communications.
The Draper Laboratory High School Summer Internship program is soliciting applications from current high school sophomores and juniors that are interested in participating in an 6-8 week paid summer research internship. The internship provides an opportunity for students to work with mentor scientists on a research project in one of Draper’s engineering disciplines in order to obtain professional experience in support of academic preparation for a career in engineering or related science. Full program details are available on Draper’s website at: http://www.draper.com/high_school_internship/index.html. Applicants must submit their complete applications, including school transcript and teacher letter of reference, by Friday, March 8, 2013.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Students who proposed new ways of preventing adverse effects from medical devices, increasing recycling participation, and heading off cyber attacks won a competition sponsored by Draper Laboratory and hosted by the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE).
The 2012 Draper Technical Challenge Competition for NSBE members showcased student members’ innovative problem solving, technical writing, and presentation skills. The winners were all students at Northeastern University in Boston.
Oliver Maurice, a mechanical engineering student, won the $2,000 first place prize for his technical paper on using inert carbon nano-tube coating, coupled with an immunosuppressant release system, to prevent adverse reactions to implanted medical devices.
Samantha Kendrick, a civil engineering student, received the $1,000 second prize for her proposal to improve recycling efficiency through methods including tax incentives proportionate to amount recycled and with an end-to-end closed loop recycling process. Idriys Harris, a computer engineering student, won the $500 third prize for his paper describing a combination of technical tools, virtualization, and human-centered precautions to avoid cyber attacks.
“The message we heard from the student leadership from day one was ‘this is the type of competition we need for our members,’” said Barry Henry, a senior member of the technical staff at Draper, and a contest judge. “Both parties were highly motivated, and the collaboration has been great. It comes as no surprise to see the tremendous growth over the last two years, and we hope to keep it going.”
“Draper provides a unique opportunity for NSBE students,” said Sarah Brown, Draper Laboratory Fellow and former NSBE National Technical OutReach Community Help Chair. “As a research environment, the problems Draper engineers work on are uniquely challenging, similar to those found in academic settings, but without the distractions of academic service.”
NSBE is one of the largest student-run organizations in the country. Its mission is to “increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”
This marks the second year that Draper Laboratory has sponsored these scholarships for the NSBE Region 1 chapter, which includes New England, New York, New Jersey, Ontario and Quebec. The final round of the Technical Challenge Competition was held at the NSBE Region 1 Fall Regional Conference in Parsippany, New Jersey, on Nov. 17. At the conference, finalists selected based on paper submissions presented their solutions to challenge problems posed by Draper staff.
Other Draper participation included a booth at the conference’s career fair and hosting the Academic Excellence and Competitors reception where Sharon Donald, director of internal research and development, gave the keynote address. Donald, Henry, and Phil Babcock, Draper’s director of system engineering and evaluation, judged the Technical Challenge.
Additionally, Christopher Robinson, a member of Draper’s technical staff, presented a collegiate workshop on how to succeed in one's first engineering job, and Sarah Brown presented a study skills workshop for pre-collegiate members.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) included Draper’s Len Polizzotto in its charter class of fellows, an honor intended to recognize inventors who have demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.
Margaret A. Focarino, U.S. Commissioner for Patents, will induct the fellows during the 2nd Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors on Feb. 22, 2013, in Tampa, Fla.
Polizzotto, Draper’s vice president for strategic business development, joins a charter class of fellows that includes eight Nobel Laureates, two Fellows of the Royal Society, 12 presidents of research universities and non-profit research institutes, 50 members of the National Academies, three recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, four recipients of the National Medal of Science, and 29 American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows.
Academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI Charter Fellow were nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.
Polizzotto holds 11 patents, and has written numerous articles on human color perception, digital imaging, and microphotography. He holds a Ph.D. in visual sciences from Tufts University, and bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).
Polizzotto has led efforts at Draper that include creating the Lab’s energy initiative and establishing its Biomedical Engineering Center and MultiChip Module Fabrication Facility in Florida. He is currently leading national research consortia to study post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as to integrate all sources of medical data to provide real time decision support to clinicians in intensive care units and emergency departments.
“Len has been vital in enabling Draper to not only maintain its culture of innovation, but drive it further as the Lab expands from its core aerospace business into areas like biomedical engineering and energy systems,” said Jim Shields, Draper president. “His leadership has been a critical element of finding new ways to harness Draper technology to solve national problems.”
Polizzotto previously held senior positions at SRI International and Polaroid Corp., and served as the director of the Center for Globalization of Technology at WPI.
The NAI Fellows Selection Committee is comprised of 14 Members from the National Academies, recipients of National Medals, a National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee, and senior officials from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), AAAS, the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), the United Inventors Association and University Research Leadership.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Scientists may one day study neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or stroke using a “brain-on-a-chip,” under development by Draper Laboratory and the University of South Florida (USF).
“Our device is designed to be the most biologically realistic model of brain tissue developed in the lab thus far,” says Anil Achyuta, Principal Investigator for the project at Draper. “We have the potential to revolutionize how scientists study the effects of drugs, vaccines, and specialized therapies like stem cells on the brain.”
Their work was published September 26th online in the journal Lab on a Chip.
Tens of millions of people worldwide suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, which typically involve a dysfunction in the crosstalk between the brain and the circulatory system.
This interaction relies on the efficient operation of what is known as the neurovascular unit -- the specific brain and vascular cells that exchange nutrients, oxygen, and dispose of chemical waste to keep the brain functioning.
By combining innovations in cellular neuroscience, tissue engineering, and microfluidics, the prototype “brain-on-a-chip” attempts to mimic the neurovascular unit and represents a more realistic model of brain tissue.
To create the device, USF senior Richard Crouse, part of a team under the guidance of Achyuta, cultured neurons, astrocytes, and microglia (basic brain cell types) and brain endothelial cells (vascular cells) from rats on two specially designed microfabricated layers.
These neural and vascular layers were then assembled together, allowing the cells to actively communicate across a microporous membrane. A microfluidic pump was used to circulate nutrients, stimulants, or therapeutics across the vascular channels simulating blood flow.
Crouse won the “Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award” for his work on this project at USF this past April.
“In our system, you have exquisite control over each compartment,” says Achyuta. “In addition to screening drugs, we could potentially block vascular channels and mimic stroke or atherosclerotic plaque. Furthermore, this platform could eventually be used for neurotoxicology, to study the effects of brain injury like concussions, blast injuries, and implantable medical devices such as in neuroprosthetics.”
The group is working on including two additional cell types not present in the original device, investigating the shear stress effects of blood flow on the cells, and looking to improve the component materials.
They plan on switching from rat embryonic cells to human cells in the near future.
This work will be a part of Draper’s BIO-MIMETICS program, a DARPA funded project undertaken in collaboration with MIT, which aims to one day combine a networked system of microdevices into a “human-on-a-chip” for the rapid testing of new drugs and vaccines.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory and MIT are working under contract to the U.S. government to develop microscale technology that realistically mimics human organs in a laboratory environment for novel drug and vaccine testing.
“Human cells in biomimetic microenvironments hold the potential to revolutionize the way that new drugs and vaccines are tested,” said Jeffrey Borenstein, Technical Director of the project at Draper. “They will enable a faster and less expensive development process, and improve the safety and efficacy of new drugs.”
The project, titled “Barrier-Immune-Organ: MIcrophysiology, Microenvironment Engineered TIssue Construct Systems” (BIO-MIMETICS), is led by Linda Griffith, MIT Professor of Biological and Mechanical Engineering. Borenstein and Shankar Sundaram, director of the Draper Bioengineering center in Tampa, will lead the team at Draper. The multi-disciplinary team also includes researchers from MatTek Corporation and Zyoxel Ltd.
Most current pharmaceutical screening methods rely on animal models or cells grown in petri dishes to assess safety and efficacy. These methods are generally expensive, time consuming, and unable to fully account for physiological conditions in humans, which often contributes to failures in clinical tests.
The team is leveraging Draper’s expertise in bioengineering, micromechanical fabrication, microfluidics, systems integration and electronics design to create a physiologically accurate “human-on-a-chip,” which could be then be used to test the interaction between human tissues and drugs or vaccines.
This platform will provide a standardized, flexible, and realistic model to test for pharmaceutical toxicity, function and efficacy, enabling the rapid translation of research toward clinical testing.
To develop this technology, the BIO-MIMETICS team will grow human cells on microscale devices that mimic the environment of those cells in live organs.
Projects already underway include a prototype “lung-on-a-chip,” developed by a team led by Borenstein, which integrates living human lung cells into a small polymer platform with a network of micro-channels. Linked with microfluidic pumps, the channels allow for blood and air flow conditions similar to the human airway. The presence of these biologically accurate environmental and stress cues helps build a more realistic model of lung tissue.
Additional projects at Draper include a “liver-on-a-chip,” led by Joe Cuiffi and Wajeeh Saadi, and a “kidney-on-a-chip,” led by Joe Charest.
Ultimately, the BIO-MIMETICS team aims to create platforms for the following human systems: circulatory, endocrine, gastrointestinal, immune, skin, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, and urinary. Linked together, these would represent a physiologically accurate model of a “human-on-a-chip.”
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently awarded a contract worth up to $26.4 million to the BIO-MIMETICS team through MIT for the “human-on-a-chip” work. In addition, Draper is participating in a project led by MIT that will investigate cancer metastasis treatments models with the goal of integration into the BIO-MIMETICS platform. This project will receive up to $6.25 million from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at NIH.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Vehicles that could land on comets and asteroids and then move around to explore took a step closer to reality through a student experiment aboard a recent NASA-sponsored microgravity flight.
NASA’s exploration of Near Earth Objects has thus far entailed sending systems that studied the immediate area near where they landed on, or flew by, asteroids and comets. Draper Laboratory hopes to develop vehicles that could explore more terrain, expanding scientists’ ability to examine materials that are relatively unchanged since the formation of the universe, and search for valuable natural resources for use in space operations or on Earth.
Hopping vehicles could also play a key role in exploring Near Earth Objects prior to potential landings from astronauts by exploring multiple locations on an asteroid. President Barack Obama has cited human exploration of an asteroid as a desirable destination in preparation for a manned mission to Mars, and the Review of Human Space Flight Plans Committee (also known as the Augustine Commission) listed human exploration of Near Earth Objects as a potential stepping stone towards human settlements beyond Earth.
Draper has been working with graduate and undergraduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on TALARIS (Terrestrial Artificial Lunar and Reduced Gravity Simulator), a prototype for a vehicle that could land on planets like the Moon and Mars and “hop” around to explore. The hopping concept would complement wheeled vehicles by covering far more ground, and having the ability to fly over obstacles or into areas that rovers could not reach. In the case of asteroids and comets, the microgravity environment would likely cause a wheeled vehicle to propel itself away from the object’s surface, but the rockets aboard a hopper would enable the spacecraft to conduct multiple take-offs and landings.
Developing the guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) software needed to guide a hopping vehicle safely and precisely around a planet, asteroid or comet is a crucial part of the concept. Draper has developed GN&C solutions for NASA beginning with the Apollo missions, and continuing today with the International Space Station and other programs. Draper has been developing the GN&C technology for hopping, while the MIT students have worked on developing the prototype vehicle for demonstrations.
The recent microgravity flight was sponsored by Johnson Space Center’s Microgravity University. Draper funded the students’ work to modify TALARIS in preparation for the demonstration, as well as the students’ travel costs from Cambridge to Houston, where the aircraft took off.
The flight enabled the students to test GN&C software under gravitational conditions similar to those found on a Near Earth Object without the vibration and noise errors introduced by electric ducted fans that had been used to simulate microgravity during laboratory testing on the ground.
While NASA’s safety restrictions kept the students from using TALARIS’ thrusters inside the aircraft used for the microgravity flights, the students pushed their prototype while TALARIS’ software processed data gathered by its sensors.
The students hope to conduct a more advanced test aboard another microgravity flight next year using low-power thrusters that could comply with NASA’s safety requirements.
For a video of the students’ flight experiment, visit: http://youtu.be/lLX613dic9A
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Technology advances can significantly reduce the size of implantable medical devices, but challenges remain before these micropackaging improvements can be harnessed in safe, reliable, and cost effective packages.
Livia Racz, who leads the Microsystems Technology Division at Draper Laboratory, will discuss how to overcome these issues while satisfying demands for sophistication and processing power in a Sept. 27 keynote speech at the 2012 Medical Electronics Symposium, which is presented by MEPTEC and the Surface Mount Technology Association (SMTA) at Arizona State University.
Racz’ speech, titled “Trends in 3-D Micropackaging for Emerging Implantable Applications,” will address challenges including developing devices that are sealed well enough to protect the electronics from the body – and vice versa – while still effectively interacting with the organ in question. Other challenges include avoiding breakdowns, and ensuring that those that may occur will not result in damage to the body.
Draper is addressing these challenges as it develops implantable medical devices for applications including neural stimulation to treat conditions like Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and depression while limiting potentially devastating side-effects. Draper’s neural prosthesis work is led by Bryan McLaughlin.
Racz holds a bachelors degree in materials science and engineering, and a PhD in materials engineering, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory named Brent Appleby to serve in a newly created position as deputy to its vice president of engineering for science and technology, where he will develop and execute an acquisition strategy for critical and disruptive technologies.
Appleby, who has worked at Draper since 1983, returns to the Lab following a two-year assignment at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as the deputy director of the Systems Technology Office (STO). Appleby’s service at DARPA, which was coordinated through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA), entailed overseeing high risk program development, new technology development, and transitioning technology to solutions that meet critical military missions.
“This experience provided Brent with a broad perspective of new technology development targeted toward significant military missions,” said John Dowdle, Draper’s vice president for engineering, who noted that Appleby brings significant experience in Draper’s core business of guidance, navigation and control (GN&C), broad knowledge of autonomous systems technologies, and an in-depth understanding of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems to the new position.
Appleby joined Draper as an undergraduate student in 1983, became a Draper Laboratory Fellow in 1984, and became a member of the technical staff in 1990. Prior to joining DARPA, he held various management positions within the Laboratory’s algorithms and software directorate, including mission systems division leader, leader of the tactical ISR division, and group leader of autonomous systems.
Appleby holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Half of patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are not identified, and treatment for those who are diagnosed is only partially effective, leading Draper Laboratory to form a consortium of nationally-recognized experts on PTSD to improve diagnostic tools and treatment outcomes.
PTSD has been diagnosed in more than 200,000 troops returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it is also commonly found in civilians who have been involved in an accident or assault, or have suffered the unexpected loss of a loved one. Approximately 8% of the U.S. population will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives, which can lead to panic attacks, substance abuse, depression, suicide, and a host of serious medical complications, most notably, cardiovascular disorders.
The current state of the art in PTSD diagnosis is based on clinical interviews, so doctors have to rely on patients’ subjective reports. Although the clinical history is a good start, PTSD diagnoses would be better informed if reliable biomarkers of the condition were available, as is the case in many other areas of medicine.
The team plans to develop solutions based on objective, clinical decision making by using sophisticated algorithms to integrate data from a spectrum of biomarkers including neuroimaging, psychophysiology, chemical assays, and gene expression. The resulting diagnostic and treatment protocols will be more objective and personalized, complementing today’s primarily subjective means of evaluation and treatment selection.
“Although some biological characteristics that point to a PTSD diagnosis have already been identified, more comprehensive study is critical to examine the integrated roles of multiple potential biological factors of the condition,” according to Dr. Roger Pitman, director of the PTSD Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “This will help clinicians develop personalized treatment plans to improve outcomes, rather than relying on ‘one-size-fits-all’
Reducing inconclusive diagnoses and avoiding ineffective treatments, in turn, will help significantly reduce costs, both for patients as well as society, Pitman said.
The technology platform underlying the proposed solutions to PTSD diagnosis and treatment will be derived from those Draper has developed for a variety of systems for NASA and the Department of Defense. These systems synthesize data from multiple sources to create actionable information. One example is Draper’s Timeliner™ system, which currently collects data from hundreds of sources to automate operations and diagnose points of failure in real time aboard the International Space Station and in power plants.
“We have the most advanced data fusion technology in critical decision making available to apply to PTSD diagnosis and personalized treatment care,” said Dr. Len Polizzotto, Draper’s vice president in charge of the program.
Bringing together a national team of leading PTSD experts from a variety of disciplines and institutions offers several advantages over pursuing the problem as a single organization, including the ability to look at the full spectrum of factors from neuroimaging to gene expression, and conduct human and animal studies in parallel, thus accelerating knowledge and development of solutions.
“No one of us could do this alone, but collaboratively, we will be able to create a solution to one of the most expensive healthcare problems our nation is facing in both cost and human toll,” said Dr. David Diamond, Psychology Professor at the University of South Florida.
Current members of the PTSD consortium include: Dr. Roger Pitman, Dr. Mohammed Milad, and Dr. Scott Orr of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Dr. Martha Elizabeth Shenton of Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Dr. David Diamond of University of South Florida and the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, FL; Dr. Ann Rasmusson and Dr. Jennifer Vasterling of the National Center for PTSD, Boston University School of Medicine, and VA Boston Healthcare System; Dr. Paula Schnurr and Dr. Matthew Friedman of the National Center for PTSD and Dartmouth College; Dr. Israel Liberzon of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and University of Michigan; Dr. Tom Neylan of the San Francisco VA Medical Center and University of California-San Francisco; Dr. Kerry Ressler of Emory University and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Dr. Tania Roth of University of Delaware; Dr. Lisa Shin of Tufts University; Dr. Rachel Yehuda of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City and the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx, NY; Dr. Karestan Koenen of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health; and Dr. Len Polizzotto, Dr. Nirmal Keshava and Dr. Andrea Webb of Draper Laboratory.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – NASA required almost no fuel to reorient the International Space Station (ISS) twice during resupply operations on Aug. 1, using technology developed by Draper Laboratory.
The rotation maneuvers demonstrated the ability to save over 90 percent of the fuel otherwise needed when the Russian Progress resupply cargo spacecraft docked with ISS. This approach, which Draper calls the Optimal Propellant Maneuver (OPM), helps NASA reduce the cost of operating spacecraft like the ISS, and extends their usable life.
The OPM could be applied to many of the maneuvers made by satellites operated by NASA, the Pentagon, and commercial firms, says Nazareth Bedrossian, Draper’s group leader for vehicle dynamics and control systems.
The ISS would have expended over 300 kilograms of fuel during resupply operations, but needed approximately 20 kilograms by using the OPM on Aug. 1.
The OPM also reduced the number of individual thruster firings by more than 70 percent, resulting in lower structural loads and thruster lifetime usage.
Spacecraft typically use thrusters to maneuver in space and to overcome disturbances such as aerodynamic drag and other sources. The OPM takes advantage of disturbances in an approach similar to ships following ocean currents to boost their speed and improve fuel efficiency, Bedrossian said.
The OPM does not require costly changes to a spacecraft’s flight software. Operators on the ground develop commands, and then load them onto the spacecraft’s flight control system for execution.
Draper demonstrated a similar fuel-saving approach with the ISS in 2006 and 2007 using the Zero Propellant Maneuver (ZPM), which enabled the space station to rely entirely on its Control Moment Gyro’s to perform large angle rotations. The OPM extends on ZPM by allowing some fuel usage while reducing the time for maneuvers to improve operational timelines.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory is working with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop and demonstrate technologies to cooperatively harvest and re-use valuable components from retired, nonworking satellites in geosynchronous orbit and demonstrate the ability to create new space systems.
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is funding the work, believes that the Phoenix concept may ultimately cut the cost and time of deploying new satellites to support U.S. warfighter communications needs worldwide.
DARPA aims to demonstrate Phoenix in space in 2015 by taking an antenna from a non-working communications spacecraft and reconfiguring it into a “new system.”
DARPA believes that many satellites that have been retired or have failed early and put into the graveyard orbit still have usable antennas, solar arrays and
other components with significant residual lifetime and value.
The Phoenix program includes developing two components – a servicing satellite and a batch of “satlets” housed in a payload orbital delivery system (PODS) that can “ride along” on a commercial spacecraft 22,000 miles above the Earth to GEO, where most communications satellites are located.
The servicing spacecraft and PODS would rendezvous in space, where the servicer harvests an antenna from a non-functioning communications satellite by prior agreement with its owner, and attaches it to the satlets. The resulting aggregated spacecraft rises from the remains of retired assets to provide a new capability.
Draper brings experience from its work on NASA programs like the International Space Station (ISS) that can play a key role in enabling the satlets to fit into a tiny package that is inexpensive to launch while providing long term operations for the new satellite capability.
The Laboratory plans to equip the satlets with attitude control software based on its “Zero Propellant Maneuver.” The software has been demonstrated in space with the International Space Station as well as NASA’s TRACE mission, and can enable a spacecraft to maintain a stable orientation without the use of thrusters. Draper’s approach not only provides a size reduction that can drive down launch cost, but can extend the spacecraft’s new orbital lifetime by removing one of the key reasons for obsolescence – prematurely running out of fuel.
Draper has worked with the U.S. government on previous programs that demonstrated the ability to rendezvous with a spacecraft in orbit, including the military’s Orbital Express mission. Draper also supported Orbital Sciences in its work with NASA on the Commercial Orbital Transportation Service (COTS), which is intended to deliver cargo to the ISS.
“Creating new space systems at greatly reduced cost requires moving away from traditional processes and subsystem development. Draper’s past experiences in space programs complement the Phoenix objectives and position us to help the U.S. achieve its goals.” said Brad Moran, Draper’s Phoenix program manager.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – A device designed to provide a more biologically realistic growth environment for human kidney cells in the laboratory may give scientists a better model to study the effects of disease or new therapeutics on the kidney.
The microscale tissue modeling device, developed by scientists from Draper Laboratory and Boston University, is the first platform to take into account both physical and fluid-flow effects on kidney cells and is a step toward one day replicating kidney organ function in the lab. Their work was published in 2012 in the journal Integrative Biology.
The kidneys are a pair of fist-sized organs that filter blood and are crucial to maintaining fluid balance, regulating blood pressure, and eliminating toxins. Disorders of the kidney can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure, and diabetics are particularly at risk - the World Heath Organization estimates that 10-20% of diabetes-related deaths are due to kidney failure.
The primary structural unit of the kidney, called a nephron, is a highly organized tubule under constant exposure to fluid-flow stress from the blood and fluids it filters. In addition, nephron cells receive cues from the extracellular matrix, a network of structural and signalling proteins. In the laboratory, kidney cells are typically grown on flat plastic or glass surfaces in a static nutrient broth, an unrealistic growth environment which can potentially affect cell function and physiology.
To create a more accurate environment, Else Frohlich, Draper Fellow and Boston University graduate student, and her advisors fabricated a plastic and silicone rubber microdevice comprised of a textured growth surface and a microfluidic chamber. The growth surface, lined with a series of submicron ridges and grooves coated with collagen, mimics topographical and protein cues from the extracellular matrix. On this surface, they grew a layer of cells from a segment of the nephron known as the renal proximal tubule, and provided fluid-flow stress cues with a microfluidic pump.
They found that the combination of topography and fluid-flow enhanced tissue structure formation, and in particular increased the intensity of tight junction formation between the cells, which better resembles kidney cells in the body. These tight junctions act as a seal for filtration and on flat control surfaces, were less well formed.
Frohlich received the President’s Award, the top prize at Boston University’s Science and Engineering Research Symposium, for her work on the project, which contributed to her master’s thesis.
“We’re pushing the cells toward more realistic behavior,” says Joseph Charest, director of the organ-assist and in vitro models programs at Draper. “You can then model how well they replace and transport fluids, look at disease progression, and test potential therapies.”
The team is currently improving the device design and is testing permeability of the kidney cells to compare with how they function in the body. They plan on screening drugs and adding more cell types from other segments of the nephron in the future. “Eventually it would be great to create a full nephron-on-a-chip,” says Frohlich.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Latino science and engineering organizations in the Boston area honored Linda Fuhrman, a senior Draper Laboratory engineer, for her efforts to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to minority students during an April 23 ceremony.
Fuhrman was recognized with the Franklin Chang-Díaz Award at the 2012 Latino Science & Engineering Awards Celebration, which was organized by the SACNAS-SHPE-MAES STEM Consortium. Chang-Díaz was the first naturalized U.S. citizen to become an astronaut, and is a former Draper employee.
Fuhrman led the creation of the MAES New England Network of graduate schools and employers, and organized a series of sessions at the 2011 MAES International Symposium’s career and graduate school fair in California to showcase a welcoming Latino professional community in New England. Fuhrman is a member of both MAES and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).
Fuhrman helped establish Draper’s diversity initiatives, and served until recently as the Lab’s director of education. She works with students, science teachers, guidance counselors, and other groups to promote technical education. She has participated at the local, regional, and national levels in efforts to advance STEM education and to raise awareness of aerospace engineering as a career.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Mass High Tech honored Dr. Lisa E. Freed, a Draper Laboratory researcher studying tissue engineering for organs like the heart, as one of its “Women to Watch” for 2012 during a May 11 ceremony.
Mass High Tech’s “Women to Watch” honor is presented to women in the technology field who will likely take on more senior leadership positions in the future, and already have track records that include
inventions, growing and launching businesses, and leading teams working on new developments.
Freed is a senior member of the technical staff at Draper, as well as an affiliated research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She holds an M.D. from Harvard University, and a PhD in applied biological sciences from MIT.
Freed’s research has focused on developing new solutions to regenerate hearts damaged by heart attacks, with the goal of overcoming the current poor prognosis of these patients, and to address the severe shortage of heart donors and quality of life issues in general.
Her recent work brings together concepts from Draper and MIT to fabricate tissue scaffolds that more closely mimic the three-dimensional shapes of real organs, which may lead to improved cell growth, healthier organs, and ultimately better health and quality of life for patients.
“She is a physician, a first-rate researcher, an innovator, collaborator, and mentor,” said Livia Racz, Draper’s division leader for microsystems technologies, and a “Women to Watch” honoree in 2010.”She cares deeply about early-career professionals, and they respond enthusiastically to her leadership. “ Lisa is especially committed to mentoring young women, with whom she works at all ages ranging from high school through post-doctoral associate.”
Freed “is deeply committed to advancing the state of biotechnology, and has provided exceptional leadership, enthusiasm and technical innovation in this important area,” said John Dowdle, Draper’s vice president for engineering. “Her work as a mentor of young women, and the inspiration that she provides, is essential to training the next generation of researchers.”
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) honored Bobby Cohanim, a Draper Laboratory employee, for his role in the development and demonstration of guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) systems for robotic landers during an April 27 ceremony.
Cohanim, Draper’s group leader for mission design, received RNASA’s Stellar Award in the early career category for his “outstanding technical leadership” in developing and testing precision GN&C for unmanned systems that could land on planets like the Moon and Mars, as well as asteroids.
RNASA, which is based in Houston, Texas, honors individuals and teams from the government, military, and industry based on the potential that the honorees’ work holds for advancing future activities in space. The Space Center Rotary Club established RNASA in 1985 in order to recognize outstanding achievements in space and promote the benefits of space exploration.
RNASA also recognized Draper with a Stellar Award nomination in the team category for its role developing GN&C flight software on NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle team. Draper engineers working on the Orion effort included Ellis King, Ryan Odegard, Ian Mitchell, and Mark Jackson. Mitchell also received an individual Stellar Award nomination in the mid-career category for his work on NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.
CAMBRIDGE, Troops suffering from tinnitus developed after encountering explosions during battle could one day be treated by a drug delivery technology now being developed at Draper Laboratory.
Tinnitus, which can be debilitating, is the single largest cause of disability in veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. One recent study found that 40 percent of returning troops suffered from this condition.
There are no specific tinnitus drugs available today, so doctors may prescribe off-label anti-depressants or painkillers for troops suffering from tinnitus, which offers temporary relief in some cases, but may result in severe side effects or require repeated, painful injections.
Draper envisions its drug delivery device as providing extended, painless delivery to the middle ear, where the drug can diffuse across the round window membrane to gain access to the cochlea. The Lab is developing a system based on novel electronic properties of polymers and wireless communications to give patients the ability to control the dosage if they choose to do so.
The project is taking place under contract to the Department of Defense through the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program. The research team includes Jeff Borenstein, who leads Draper’s work in tissue engineering and drug delivery, and Jane Wang, a Draper Lab Fellow whose research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is supervised by Professor Robert Langer.
After the device finishes delivering its supply of drugs, it would dissolve harmlessly into the body. In addition to medical applications, this dissolvable electronics technology could also be applied to sensors for environmental observations in oceans, forests, and other areas that do not result in pollution when the work is over.
CAMBRIDGE, The Central Florida Chapter of the Air Force Association (AFA) honored Draper Laboratory for its pioneering work in the field of guided munitions during a Feb. 24 ceremony in Orlando, Fla.
Gen. Norton Schwartz, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, presented AFA’s Jimmy Doolittle Educational Fellowship to James Shields, Draper’s president. The fellowship recognizes “the many men and women who have supported the Air Force and the Air Force Association from their inception,” according to AFA’s website.
AFA is a non-profit professional military and aerospace education association promoting public understanding of aerospace power and the role it plays in national security.
Draper pioneered the development of gun-fired guided munitions in the 1990s. The technology was enabled by the development of Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) gyros and accelerometers that were inherently rugged against launch accelerations and provided accurate measurement of body rates and accelerations to enable stability control. The outputs from these instruments were also integrated with GPS receivers to enable accurate navigation of the projectile to preselected target locations.
After demonstrating the technology with the Extended Range Guided Munitions Program, Draper has matured it under funding from a number of different Defense Department agencies. After licensing the technology to Honeywell, Draper worked with them on the Common Guidance Inertial Measurement Unit Program to develop a suite of g-hardened components that form the basis for Honeywell’s products that are fielded in a number of guided munitions including Excalibur, Hellfire and the Air Force’s Small Diameter Bomb(SDB). The SDB is the specific application for which Draper was recognized by the Air Force Association, who also made awards to the SDB development contractor, Raytheon Missile Systems, and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Munitions Directorate that managed the early stages of development of this technology. Expectations are the technology will continue to be applied in the further development and fielding of precision missile and gun fired munitions systems.
CAMBRIDGE, Draper hosted two MIT undergraduates on Feb. 7 to present them with scholarships and show them a variety of the technology programs underway at the Laboratory.
Morris Vanegas and Philip Daniel won $500 scholarships through MIT’s Office of Minority Education Industrial Advisory Council for Minority Education (IACME), which is intended to ensure greater retention and boost academic achievement of minority students at MIT. Vanegas is a senior, majoring in aeronautical and astronautical engineering; Daniel is a junior, majoring in mechanical engineering.
The two students met with Darryl Sargent, Draper vice president for programs, as well as Draper engineers Valerie Avila and Sunyung Lim, who discussed career opportunities at not-for-profit labs like Draper.
Draper engineers showed Vanegas and Daniel projects including Talaris, a prototype spacecraft that could explore other planets by landing and then hopping to various areas. Vanegas and Daniel also visited Draper’s rapid prototyping and lunar landing simulation labs.
“Draper’s mission to promote advanced technical education takes many forms,” said Stephan Kolitz, Draper’s director of education. “Our interaction with Morris and Philip is intended to recognize high-achieving undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, to expose them to the breadth of opportunities awaiting them after graduation, and to encourage them to continue exploring their passion in engineering. We hope that activities like this will encourage Morris and Philip – and other undergraduates – to continue their STEM education and to enter the nation’s high-tech workforce after graduation.”
CAMBRIDGE, NASA could test its payloads on Earth under realistic flight conditions before sending them into space by using a technology flown by Draper Laboratory last month.
Using the GENIE (Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment) System, Draper recently fully controlled the Xombie suborbital rocket built by Masten Space Systems during a closed loop tethered flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. This successful first step brings the NASA Dryden Flight Opportunities Program closer to a new testbed capability that could be used to validate future planetary technology payloads.
Aircraft available to test NASA instruments today are unable to fly at the desired trajectories for planetary landings, and computer simulations are used to generate that data. However, a GENIE controlled flight vehicle could mimic a spacecraft’s final approach to the Moon and Mars here on Earth. Emerging and advancing future space technologies will then have the opportunity to fly their payloads terrestrially to raise their overall Technology Readiness Level and show that they are ready for use in space.
A video of the demonstration can be found on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oO3h8clmU7U&feature=player_detailpage
Draper plans to conduct a free-flying demonstration with GENIE and the Masten rocket later this winter.
The GENIE precision landing GN&C system was developed jointly between Draper and the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) under the Autonomous Landing Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) and Morpheus lander programs.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) honored Draper Laboratory on Dec. 13 for the development of the computer that guided astronauts safely and accurately to the Moon during the Apollo missions.
At the initiative of the IEEE Boston Section, IEEE recognized the development of the Apollo Guidance Computer with one of its Milestones in Electrical Engineering and Computing, which recognize technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. Previous IEEE Milestones celebrate the invention of the telephone and the development of the Internet.
The Apollo Guidance Computer was developed by engineers at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, which was renamed Draper Laboratory when the university spun it out in 1973.
Moshe Kam, IEEE president and CEO, described the Apollo computer during the ceremony as “one of the finest and most important machines ever devised.”
“We would have gotten there eventually, but the Apollo Guidance Computer got us there better, more efficiently, more elegantly, and much, much faster,” Kam said.
Darryl Sargent, Draper vice president for programs, noted that the Apollo Guidance Computer marked the first use of digital flight controls, which Draper later incorporated on spacecraft like NASA’s space shuttle, government and commercial aircraft, and manned and unmanned undersea vehicles.
“The engineers who developed this technology set a very high standard that those of us today are working very hard to match,” Sargent said during the ceremony.
For more information about IEEE’s Milestone Awards, please visit http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/Special:Milestones.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory officials discussed professional development in the engineering field, as well as ways to use technology to assist local communities, during a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) northeastern regional conference last month.
Draper co-sponsored NSBE’s Region I Fall Conference, which ran from Nov. 17-20 in Danvers, Mass., and included more than 800 student and technical professional attendees.
During a keynote presentation, Draper President James Shields talked about career opportunities at not-for-profit research labs, which offer scientists and engineers the chance to help solve important national problems. At Draper, engineers have the opportunity to prove novel concepts through prototyping and demonstration in realistic operational environments.
Draper also sponsored a competition at the conference where students competed for a $2000 award by answering design challenges in areas including navigation, miniature radios, and model-based engineering. Senior Draper engineers judged the contestants’ submissions.
Byron Williams, a student at Rochester Institute of Technology, won for his paper on computer-based models to enable fast trade studies to choose the best set of systems when responding to a tornado in an urban area, as well as a terrorist attack on a U.S. ship.
Other Draper participation in the conference included a workshop led by Sarah Brown, who serves as the national chair of NSBE’s Technical OutReach Community Help (TORCH) initiative.
Brown, a Draper Lab Fellow, NSF Graduate Research Fellow and Ph.D. student at Northeastern University, is working with a Draper internal research and development team to create a computational model for emotion. She discussed how local NSBE chapters can promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in their areas.
For more information about NSBE, please visit www.NSBE.org.
CAMBRIDGE, MA –The NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) honored Philip Hattis, a senior engineer at Draper Laboratory, with its Engineering Excellence Award during a Nov. 1 ceremony for his contributions to an assessment of the combined control stability effects of Orion spacecraft propellant slosh and booster dynamics during launch of the crew module.
In an effort to limit spacecraft mass, engineers designing the Orion module excluded using baffles in the propellant tanks resulting in concern that weakly damped propellant slosh motion might adversely interact with bending and vibration of the launch vehicle during ascent. Hattis worked with NASA to evaluate the safety consequences of this design and to formulate risk mitigation strategies that would limit associated system design changes.
“This award signifies NASA’s recognition of the critical role that Draper and, in particular, Phil, continues to have in NASA’s human space programs,” said Séamus Tuohy, Draper’s director of space systems.
Hattis, who holds a Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronauts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has worked at Draper since 1974, and has provided technical leadership and strategic planning to the Lab’s work in areas including climate monitoring, human spaceflight, autonomous space systems, precision Mars landing, advanced satellite navigation, reusable launch, ballistic missile defense, and precision airdrop.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory welcomed Richard Roca, director emeritus of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, to its board of directors, as well as four new members to the corporation, at its annual meeting on Oct. 6.
“These officials have all helped guide the nation’s course through their leadership at business, military and academic institutions,” said Jim Shields, Draper president and chief executive officer. “Their experience will help them provide valuable insight to us as Draper works to solve national problems in areas including defense, space, health care, energy and computer networks.”
Roca previously served as a member of Draper’s corporation, and was a senior executive at AT&T, where he oversaw the technical development of the company’s Internet services.
The new members of the corporation are:
Michael R. Anastasio – former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory;
Cherry A. Murray – Dean of Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS);
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Frank G. Klotz, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for strategic studies and arms control; and former commander of U.S. Global Strike Command
Gen. (Ret.) Peter J. Schoomaker, former U.S. Army chief of staff
CAMBRIDGE, MA –Draper Laboratory celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with activities intended to foster promotional development for its employees as well as outreach that highlighted career and educational opportunities for Latino engineers in the region.
Draper’s Mes Latino celebration, which ran from Sept. 15 to Oct.15, also included a variety of events that highlighted Latino contributions to U.S. culture.
Activities at Draper included a presentation from Conexión, a mentorship program for professionals that was founded in Cambridge, which focused on the importance of networking to career development.
Draper employees also reached out beyond New England through participation in the MAES National Symposium, which ran from Oct. 5-8 in Oakland, Calif. MAES promotes education and leadership among Latino engineers and scientists.
Linda Fuhrman, a senior systems engineer at Draper, coordinated a series of workshops at the MAES conference that promoted New England as an attractive destination for Latinos seeking high-tech educational and career opportunities. Fuhrman presented two of the workshops, the first on networking and the second on financing graduate school. During the conference, MAES honored Antonio de la Serna, a digital design engineer at Draper and acting president of the local MAES chapter, with its Medalla de Oro, the organization’s highest honor.
“As a company, we are committed to welcoming and embracing diversity,” said Chris Yu, signal processing and communications group leader in engineering, who also leads the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative at Draper. “Activities such as the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month are a way for us to recognize and celebrate our ethnic differences, and to promote a culture of inclusion.”
At its Cambridge headquarters, Draper also displayed information on posters and monitors about the heritage of Latino countries as well as prominent figures with Hispanic backgrounds from the Americas and Caribbean; and featured Latin-themed menus and music and dancing in its cafeteria.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory is leading a team that aims to improve long-term intelligence predictions through software that weights most heavily forecasts from analysts who tend to be most accurate in particular fields like politics, world events, and economics.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is funding the effort through the Aggregative Contingent Estimation Program (ACE) with the hope of finding the most precise and timely way to crowd-source its predictions amongst its widely dispersed analysts.
Draper is leading a team named SP♠DE – the System for Prediction, Aggregation, Display, and Elicitation. The SP♠DE technical team is led by Dr. John Irvine, capability leader for information and decision support, and Dr. Sarah Miller, a senior cognitive science researcher. The team includes Drazen Prelec, a professor at the Sloan School of Management, as well as the Departments of Economics and Brain & Cognitive Sciences, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Alexander Kirlik, professor and acting head of the human factors division at the University of Illinois; Dan Martin, director of MRAC, a psychology research and consulting firm; and Bill Welch, director of the Center for Intelligence Research Analysis & Training at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Penn.
While forecasts made a few days or weeks before an event are often accurate, the challenge is far greater to look long term in order to give policy makers the best opportunity for planning, said Stuart Peskoe, associate director for mission systems in Draper’s tactical systems group and SP♠DE project manager.
The SP♠DE team will be enhancing Prelec’s method of Bayesian analysis that scores most highly those analysts whose predictions exhibit a surprising level of mutual consistency. Miller and Kirlik have also studied how best to take advantage of the strengths of experts and algorithms while compensating for the weaknesses of both –and successfully tested their concept with fantasy baseball predictions and actual Major League Baseball results.
The team is looking for those with interest or expertise in economics, politics, culture, and global security to participate in the study via an interactive website a t www.iSpade.net
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Nirmal Keshava, a Draper Laboratory engineer working to address brain injury and soldier health issues, has been chosen with a group of the brightest young U.S. engineers to attend the U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium at Google headquarters from September 19-21. The symposium is sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).
The NAE’s website describes the 17th annual U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium as a three-day event for engineers ages 30 to 45 who are “performing exceptional engineering research and technical work in industry, academia, and government.” Attendees were nominated by fellow engineers or organizations and chosen from a pool of more than 300 applicants.
The conference is intended to facilitate collaboration in engineering as well as transfer of new techniques and approaches across fields among the next generation of engineering leaders.
Keshava is an expert in signal and image processing and has worked on multi-disciplinary topics, including identifying biomarkers using neuroimaging, extracting estimates of cognitive states from multi-modal physiology, as well as the fusion of information from different sources for improved decision-making. This work is being applied to the problems including diagnosing traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), quantitatively measuring pain, and understanding how interviews can more efficiently elicit information.
“The young engineering innovators of today are solving the grand challenges that face us in the coming century,” said NAE President Charles Vest. “We are proud that our Frontiers of Engineering program brings this diverse group of people together and gives them an opportunity to share and showcase their work.”
The forum will involve lectures and break-out sessions focusing on topics including neuroprosthetics, an important component towards integrating engineering approaches with advances in neuroscience.
Additional information about Frontiers of Engineering is available at www.naefrontiers.org.
High school students performed engineering work on projects including flight simulations, spacecraft that can explore the moon, and a cardiac compression device that is typically handled by adults during internships at Draper Laboratory this summer.
The internship program is part of Draper’s efforts to stimulate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, and help groom the next generation of engineers.
Simran Dhillon, a senior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, experienced the real world of engineering while working on Draper’s prototype lunar hopper, Talaris. Unlike the rovers that have explored the Moon and Mars, the hopper is a robot designed to explore planetary surfaces by hopping rather than driving, enabling it to cover greater distances far more quickly, and reach areas that would be inaccessible to wheeled vehicles.
Throughout the summer, Dhillon was responsible for writing a software program that simulates lunar landing. The program helps to improve the hopper’s vision and navigation as it simulates various terrain and lighting conditions, essentially allowing Dhillon and mentoring engineer Bobby Cohanim to see rocks, craters and everything else through the robot’s eyes.
“I hope to keep Simran around!,” said Cohanim, a Cambridge resident. “I am amazed by how much he knows – much more than I ever did as a high school student.”
Other students at Draper this summer included Edward Shin, a junior at Lexington High School, and Samuel Rosenstein, a junior at Gann Academy in Newton, who worked closely with Draper engineer Russell Smith. The students focused on running flight simulations, with small changes in each trial, and analyzed the data.
“I got to work with engineering concepts that were many levels above what I’ve done before, but with help I was able to absorb a lot of new information,” Shin said. “Working on something as real and as complex as a flight simulation taught me many new skills and left me with a sense of fulfillment.”
To accomplish this work, Smith had to first tutor the students in some math and physics concepts not typically included in high school courses.
According to Smith, Shin and Rosenstein already had strong mathematical backgrounds, which made it easier to explain physics-based ideas of mechanical motion quickly and more efficiently.
“He taught us pre-calculus, calculus, and linear algebra in the course of two weeks, so I guess I would have to credit him with most of my math education,” Rosenstein said.
Over in Draper’s bioengineering lab, rising senior Michael Pigula worked with mentor Jeff Borenstein and others on the development of a cardiac compression device. The team built an artificial muscle that is operated by air.
After building a set of “air muscles,” Pigula, a Concord resident who attends the Middlesex School, helped test them in the form of a contractile sheet, which mimics how muscles move. He then took comprehensive data on the tests to use as an early prototype of a cardiac compression device. These devices can ultimately be used to enhance right ventricular function in cardiac patients who have already received a left ventricular assist device.
“It was wonderful working with Michael and he seemed to be very inspired by the project and by the outstanding engineering environment here at the lab with all of our resources in terms of staff, equipment, and knowledge,” said Borenstein.
CAMBRIDGE, MA –Dr. Eric Balles recently joined Draper Laboratory as director of energy systems. He leads Draper’s new Energy Systems Program Office, which was chartered to build Draper’s existing business in energy and identify new opportunities in this emerging market.
Balles’ successful career in the energy field includes recent positions with Babcock Power, a leading supplier of technology, equipment and services to the power generation industry, as their chief technology officer as well as president and CEO of Babcock-Thermo Carbon Capture, LLC, (a joint venture between Babcock Power and ThermoEnergy) and chief operating officer of Babcock Power Environmental. Balles’ career also include several energy- related entrepreneurial endeavors – he led technology applications and licensing as vice president for Litex, Inc., the venture-funded spin-off of Lockheed Martin, developing non-thermal plasma-assisted catalysts; led Adrenaline Research, where he served as president and COO for the privately held spin-off of MIT and Draper specializing in high-energy ignition and ion sensing technologies; and was responsible for Clean Diesel Technology’s world-wide research program as vice president of technology. Balles began his career with Arthur D. Little, where he was a senior consultant in technology and product development.
Balles holds Sc.D., S.M., and S.B. degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT.
Darryl Sargent, Draper’s vice president for programs, described Balles as bringing “extensive experience in working with utilities and suppliers of energy technology and equipment. His vision, energy, and expertise will lead to exciting new opportunities for Draper as he works closely with our engineering staff in building our energy business.”
Looking ahead, Balles said, “The opportunities here are almost endless. Draper is applying its expertise in sensors and controls to improve the efficiency, reliability, safety, and security of energy production, distribution, transmission and end use. This organization has a rich set of core capabilities we can apply to develop solutions to the most challenging energy problems in our nation. In the process, we are making energy systems smarter and being smarter about how we use energy.”
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory began work this month on a new spacesuit that could keep NASA astronauts healthy during long-duration space exploration missions and stabilize them while they work in microgravity.
NASA commissioned the work through its NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, which funds efforts based on their potential to enhance future space missions.
The suit aims to stabilize astronauts and allow them to operate far more efficiently during space missions by adding resistance similar to the force of gravity on Earth. During so would help astronauts acclimate to space and avoid body movement coordination-related mistakes in microgravity or other gravitational environments that can make their work more cumbersome.
The suit will use an intertial measurement unit and flywheel gyroscopes to raise or lower resistance during body movements, or stabilize and assist astronauts while working inside or outside a spacecraft, as well as on a planet or asteroid.
“This spacesuit concept will provide a platform for integrating sensors and actuators with daily activities to maintain and improve astronaut health and performance,” said Kevin Duda, a senior member of the technical staff in Draper’s Human Centered Engineering Group, and the principal investigator for the spacesuit project.
In addition to stabilizing astronauts in space, the suit could also be used to help reacclimate them to the feel of gravity upon return to Earth or other planetary destination. Outside of space, the suit could be adapted for uses including medical rehabilitation to assist in rehabilitation and physical therapy for individuals affected by stroke, spinal cord and brain injuries, as well as the elderly population, as they relearn the proper way to execute common movements by introducing strong resistence when they do not take the proper path.
Over the course of the next year, Draper will develop an early stage Earth-based prototype to demonstrate the capability on a human arm. With continued funding, this capability could be ready for use as a feature in astronaut spacesuits in five to 10 years.
Draper is partnering on the project with Jacob Bloomberg, a senior research scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Professor Dava Newman, director of the technology and policy program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Charles Oman, a senior researcher in the MIT Aero Astro department.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Draper Laboratory and MIT have invented a device that may enable drug developers to create medicines that stop cancer in its tracks by allowing them to see how diseased cells migrate.
A longer term goal for the device is to enable hospital labs to create more individualized treatment plans for cancer patients through gaining a better understanding of how the disease is spreading in their bodies.
MIT and Draper researchers recently published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that outlines how different mechanisms govern the spread of cancerous cells away from tumors into other areas in the body.
MIT is studying the biological mechanisms of cancer’s progression in the body. Jessie Jeon, an MIT student and Draper Laboratory Fellow, has been working at Draper to develop a more cost-effective version of the clear, 3D microfluidic platform that acts as a stand-in for a tumor in order to watch the spread of cancer cells.
By better understanding the spread of cancer cells, researchers can develop drugs that slow or stop metastasis by blocking the spreading of tumor cells through tissue and into the vascular system.
The current version of the device is made from rubber, which is more expensive to create, and absorbs compounds, chemicals and drugs that are used during testing, which can lead to inaccurate readings, and make it more difficult to view the cancer cell migration patterns. Jeon is working on a version made from hard plastic, which blocks absorption, and is far easier for high-volume manufacturing machines to produce the design. This approach reduces the unit cost, making it easier for more widespread use amongst medical researchers and hospital labs.
“By capturing the essential elements of a tumor in the device, and producing the device in a high-throughput fashion, we hope to speed development of cancer therapies,” said Joseph Charest, principal investigator for the project at Draper, and co-author on the MIT paper.
Charest collaborates on the project, which is funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute’s Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies program, with MIT’s Roger Kamm and William Polacheck. The National Cancer Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health.
“Metastatic cancers contribute to 90% of the deaths due to cancer, yet no drugs are currently available that are directed at preventing the various stages by which cancer spreads,” Kamm said.
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The U.S. military conducted the first operational mission in Afghanistan in May with a system that allows it to drop supplies like food, water and ammunition from cargo planes far more accurately than it had done to date, potentially reducing troop casualties as well as giving the U.S. military another option for assisting with some humanitarian operations. The dramatic increase in accuracy for the 2,000 pound payload system is enabled by software developed by Draper Laboratory.
The U.S. Army's Joint Precision Airdrop (JPADS) 2K system, which operates completely autonomously once dropped from a C-17 or C-130 aircraft, could lead the military to revamp its tactics for resupply by reducing the need for truck convoys that leave troops vulnerable to enemy fire.
U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan receive roughly 75 percent of their supplies from trucks maneuvering along the Khyber Pass, where Taliban and Al-Qaeda attacks on ground vehicles and helicopters have resulted in high rates of casualties.
The military also needs the JPADS 2K system because harsh weather conditions in the winter months, as well as the mountainous terrain, have left the Pentagon without accurate options via ground or air to resupply troops in some locations in Afghanistan.
Those concerns led the US Army to begin a rapid development program in February 2010 for an improved precision airdrop capability that could avoid difficult ground terrain in order to accurately reach those troops. Draper responded by turning the capability around in less than a year for under $1.5 million.
By landing supplies far closer to U.S. forces on the battlefield than was previously possible, the improved accuracy also vastly reduces the time that troops on the battlefield need to be exposed to potential enemy fire while recovering supplies. Draper demonstrated that the system could exceed the military's accuracy and obstacle avoidance goals while operating in terrain similar to that of Afghanistan during testing at Yuma Proving Ground during the past year.
The Army recently deployed an initial increment of JPADS 2K systems utilizing the Draper software to Afghanistan for use in Operation Enduring Freedom, and is currently developing plans to convert future deployed systems to Draper's software. Results for all systems exceeded the Army's goals during the first operational mission in May. The work is sponsored by the Army's PM Force Sustainment Systems as well as the Airdrop Technology Team at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts.
The Draper-developed JPADS guidance, navigation and control software is non-proprietary, owned by the government, and applicable to a wide variety of hardware platforms, so it could be used in other missions like relief efforts. One potential example of humanitarian resupply in which high accuracy is required is if the U.S. government is delivering supplies to civilians and needs to ensure that the provisions do not fall into enemy hands.
Draper has successfully flown the software on platforms manufactured by several vendors with payload capacity ranging from five pounds, which could handle medical supplies, blood packets, or sensors, to 42,000 pounds, which could handle a truck or armored vehicle.
CAMBRIDGE, MA –Astronaut Greg Chamitoff, Draper Lab Fellow (Class of 1992), took his first spacewalk on May 20 to upgrade the International Space Station. As the 201st astronaut to walk in space, Chamitoff and fellow astronaut Drew Fuestel installed antennas for an external wireless communications system, during their six-hour spacewalk, according to NASA.
Chamitoff worked as a Draper Lab Fellow while completing his PhD in aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1985 to 1992. He worked at the Lab for the following year before selection into the astronaut corps.
Draper provides full tuition coverage and a monthly stipend to its fellows for the duration of the student’s degree program. In return, the student performs their thesis research at Draper on a project that is of mutual interest to the student, the university faculty advisor, and the Laboratory.
In 2008, Chamitoff flew as a flight engineer and science officer on STS 124 and lived for six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). In 2009, he returned to Draper to discuss his mission with current Draper Fellows and employees, and to return the Draper MEMS gyro he flew with him in space. While visiting the Lab, he also tested the lunar landing hazardous avoidance tool that Draper has been developing for NASA.
As a token of his appreciation to the MIT Aero & Astro Department and Draper Laboratory (formerly the MIT Instrumentation Lab), Chamitoff is carrying memorabilia of Dr. Charles Stark “Doc” Draper, the Lab’s founder. Doc’s letter to then-head of NASA Dr. Robert Seamans, Jr. conveyed his personal offer to serve as one of the astronauts for the Apollo Moon Program despite his age of 60 years. Draper expressed confidence in his Lab’s ability to develop the guidance, navigation and control system (GN&C) and guidance computer for the Apollo mission for which he had received the first contract NASA let on the Apollo Program.
Jackson received a Stellar Award in the mid-career category for his work as the co-lead on Draper’s Orion GN&C integration and test team.
RNASA, which is based in Houston, Texas, honors individuals and teams from the government, military, and industry based on the potential that the honorees’ work holds for advancing future activities in space. The Space Center Rotary Club established RNASA in 1985 in order to recognize outstanding achievements in space and promote the benefits of space exploration.
Draper’s Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment (GENIE) team received a Stellar Award nomination in the team category. The GENIE team included Tye Brady, space systems group leader; Steve Paschall, a spacecraft GN&C engineer; Pat Battstone, principal member of the technical staff; and Chris Wardman, real-time software engineer.
Kevin Duda, a senior member of the technical staff at Draper, received a Stellar nomination in the early career category, and Fred Clark, principal member of the technical staff, was nominated in the late-career category.
CAMBRIDGE,MA - The world’s largest aerospace professional society elected John Dowdle, Draper Laboratory’s vice president for engineering, as one of its fellows during a May 10 ceremony in Washington.
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Fellows are recognized as “persons of distinction in aeronautics or astronautics, and shall have made notable valuable contributions to the arts, sciences, or technology,” according to the AIAA website.
AIAA brings together government, industry and academia to advance aerospace engineering and science in both civil and defense fields.
Dowdle is one of 29 fellows elected for 2011. He is a member of the New England Section of the AIAA, and was elected an Associate Fellow in 2008. He sits on the AIAA Management Technical Committee.
Dowdle began his career at Draper as a Draper Lab Fellow in 1977 while earning a PhD in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After working at two other aerospace firms, he returned to Draper in 1986 and has remained at the Lab since in positions including director of hardware design and development and director of systems engineering.
Dowdle, who is also a senior member of IEEE, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Central Florida and University of Florida, respectively.
Draper Laboratory is a corporate member of the AIAA.
ExoPlanetSat is just 10 centimeters tall, 10 cm wide and 30 cm long, and will complement existing planet-hunters like NASA’s Kepler space telescope and ground-based assets. It gives NASA the ability to dedicate relatively inexpensive assets to stare at a star for long periods of time to look for transits – decreases in brightness that suggest a previously unmapped Earth-like planet passed between the viewer and the star.
Exoplanets are planets orbiting stars other than the sun.
In order to gain reliable data, the ExoPlanetSat’s imager is required to keep the target star in the same fraction of a pixel during its observations. Draper’s expertise in optics, guidance, navigation and control technology is being applied to develop a sub-arc-second (1/3600th of a degree) pointing and stabilization system for ExoPlanetSat.
ExoPlanetSat has demonstrated the pointing requirements needed for this task during laboratory testing.
NASA recently awarded a launch to the program as part of its Cubesat Launch Initiative.
Draper is funding the program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of the Laboratory’s effort to develop advanced technology in the national interest while creating hands-on educational opportunities that help groom the next generation of engineering and science leaders. The MIT students are led by Prof. Sara Seager, who is also a participating scientist on the Kepler mission.
The students recently came in second in the Nano-satellite Mission Idea Contest, which was hosted by Axel Space of Japan and the University of Tokyo and looked for new ways to provide capabilities via tiny satellites.
The NSF’s Graduate Student Research Fellowship program supports exceptional students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) who are pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees.
Brown is currently part of the co-op program at Draper. She will begin work on a PhD in electrical engineering this fall at Northeastern, and will continue her work at the Laboratory as a Draper Lab Fellow.
Draper provides full tuition coverage and a monthly stipend to its fellows for the duration of the student’s degree program. In return, the student performs their thesis research at Draper on a project that is of mutual interest to the student, the university faculty advisor, and the Laboratory.
Linda Fuhrman, who oversees the Draper Lab Fellow (DLF) program as Draper’s education director, described Brown as “not just an exceptional student – she’s also a leader and mentor in the community.”
“We are very fortunate to have Sarah choose to join Draper for her graduate research,” Fuhrman said. “We hope the graduates of our DLF program will choose to work for us after they complete their degree, but we are very proud of them wherever they choose to go, and proud to help train the next generation of America’s high tech workforce. The graduates of our DLF program are well prepared to become leaders in industry, the military, and in academia. In fact, two of our company’s five current Vice Presidents are former DLFs.”
MassDOT Secretary Jeffrey Mullan presented the inaugural “Pinnacle Award for Excellence in Commuter Options [ECO]” to Draper, as well as a variety of other companies with Massachusetts facilities, during a ceremony at the State House.
The ECO awards are part of MassDOT’s effort to support Massachusetts employers who are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging commuters to use options including mass transit, carpools, and bicycles. In addition to benefiting the environment, the agency hopes that these options will help ease traffic congestion and promote healthy lifestyles.
Draper qualified for the Pinnacle Award – the top class of honors at the ceremony – by providing its employees with benefits including free MBTA Link Passes that cover unlimited travel on the subway and local busses, shuttle bus service from two T stops, subsidized commuter rail passes, discounted Zipcar rates, and secure bicycle parking. The Laboratory also allows employees to purchase parking passes for commuter rail stations on a pre-tax basis.
Draper has previously been recognized as one of the “Best Workplaces for Commuters” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) due to the positive environmental impact of its commuting options.
Throughout March, the Lab highlighted female leaders on posters and monitors, including famous female inventors, chefs, political figures, military officials and World War II factory workers. Employees also created a mosaic with thoughts about women who have had a positive effect on their lives, and the cafeteria featured food from famous female chefs, accompanied by music from female performers.
The month also featured a networking “Lunch with Draper Leadership,” which addressed topics including project management and team leadership and gave employees the opportunity to ask questions about how to build networks within the organization as well as how to prepare themselves for the types of situations that they would likely encounter in leadership roles throughout the organization. Draper President Jim Shields was one of the senior leaders who participated in the discussions along with technical and administrative leadership at all levels.
“Recognizing that diverse perspectives are required for solving the nation’s most challenging problems, it is critical that we not only recruit the best talent from all demographics, but that we fully engage each and every employee once here,” said Sharon Donald, a division leader at Draper who oversees the Lab’s diversity and inclusion efforts. “Our Diversity & Inclusion Initiative places equal weight on both these critical aspects.”
Donald, who leads Draper’s Embedded Navigation and Sensor Systems division, a team of approximately 75 engineers working to develop advanced navigation, sensor and communications systems, was honored by Mass High Tech as one of its “2011 Women to Watch” on March 23.
In February, Draper began its 2011 diversity awareness activities by celebrating Black History Month with posters and monitor notes that showcased African and African American contributions to science, medicine, education, sports, entertainment, and the military. The celebration also included a quiz bowl on black history, food from areas throughout the African Diaspora in the cafeteria, and an arts and crafts fair that focused on African American heritage.
New sensors in space, on land, and at sea will be needed to handle this task, particularly since existing platforms are dying out faster than they are currently being replaced, according the report, which was released on March 10.
The report compiles findings and recommendations from presentations and workshop discussions at the 2010 Global Climate Monitoring Conference hosted by Draper in October. The attendees included personnel from NASA, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Navy, academic organizations like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and various aerospace companies.
In order to enable scientists to properly distinguish between natural and forced climate change, the U.S. government should establish means to coordinate operational global climate monitoring observations that enable data calibration, according to the report.
The report also calls for scientists to be provided with more open access to raw sensor data, and for the climate monitoring community to adopt standard metadata formats as well as means to convert data into formats sought by individual users.
The U.S. government should also establish an interagency task force that includes systems engineers, physical scientists, social scientists, and decision makers to define the design for the operational climate information system, according to the report. Enabling decision makers who lack a technical background to understand the data should be a top priority when designing infrastructure that can reach all stakeholders, such as those in areas including federal, state and local governments.
The full report: Click here:
Dr.Raanan Miller of Draper Laboratory will join Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and a coalition of state officials and business leaders on a trade mission to Israel to explore opportunities in areas including information technology, clean energy, and life sciences. The delegation will arrive in Israel on March 7, and later travel to the United Kingdom.
The Massachusetts Innovation Economy Partnership Mission 2011 will explore growth opportunities within Massachusetts’ innovation-based industries and areas of common interest between the state’s established and emerging partners in Israel.
“I’m happy to have Raanan Miller of Draper joining our great coalition of leaders on this trade mission,” said Gov. Patrick. “Raanan is at the forefront of our innovation economy, and we know his expertise will go a long way towards forging lasting economic ties and partnerships between Massachusetts and Israel.”
Since beginning its energy initiative in 2008, Draper has partnered with utilities and other organizations in the development of systems-based clean, efficient and secure energy solutions in production, transmission, distribution, and end use. For example, it has developed and deployed a Loss on Ignition sensor (LOI) for monitoring and improving combustion efficiency of coal power plants. Draper is also a pioneer in the development of microfluidics and tissue engineering and other innovative life science technologies.
At Draper, Miller works to build relationships with potential sponsors and collaborators and develops new business in clean energy. He also helps the Lab identify new opportunities in life sciences.
Miller received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. He was founder and chief technical officer of Sionex Corp., a Draper spinoff company focused on commercializing breakthrough chemical and biological sensor chips and systems.
Miller will contribute his expertise in those areas to help Gov. Patrick assess economic development opportunities that could lead to Israeli companies creating jobs in Massachusetts through establishment of local operations. During the trip, he will take part in roundtables, company visits and meetings with government and business officials along with Gov. Patrick and the delegation in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem.
Nearly 100 companies with Israeli founders or Israeli-licensed technologies operate in Massachusetts today. In 2009, these companies employed nearly 6,000 people and generated $2.4 billion in direct revenue for the state. Local firms exported over $180 million worth of goods to Israel in 2009 and, at 12.35 percent, the United States is Israel’s largest source of imports.
More information and regular updates about the trip will be posted at www.mass.gov/governor/innovationmission beginning March 7.
Draper hosted two college students on Jan. 21 to present them with scholarships and show them a variety of the technology programs underway at the Laboratory.
Samantha (Sam) Alvarez and Ken Lopez, both undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), won $500 scholarships through MIT’s Office of Minority Education Industrial Advisory Council for Minority Education (IACME), which is intended to ensure greater retention and boost academic achievement of minority students at MIT. Alvarez is a freshman pursing a degree in bio-engineering, while Lopez is a junior studying mechanical engineering.
Draper engineers showed Alvarez and Lopez projects including Talaris, a prototype spacecraft that could explore other planets by landing and then hopping to various areas. Alvarez and Lopez also visited Draper’s Lunar Landing Simulation Lab, and met with Dr. John Dowdle, Draper’s vice president for engineering.
“Draper’s mission to promote advanced technical education takes many forms,” said Linda Fuhrman, Draper’s director of education. “Our interaction with Sam and Ken is intended to recognize high-achieving undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, to expose them to the breadth of opportunities awaiting them after graduation, and to encourage them to continue exploring their passion in engineering. We hope that activities like this will encourage Sam and Ken – and other undergraduates – to continue their STEM education and to enter the nation’s high-tech workforce after graduation.”
Tampa, FL (Feb. 8, 2011) - The University of South Florida received $5.45 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The first grant is to create advanced devices that mimic the human liver to better study the life cycle of the malaria parasite – particularly the elusive liver stage where the disease may be most vulnerable to attack. Such human models could help accelerate the discovery of new drugs or even vaccines for Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum, the two most common forms of malariabecoming increasingly resistant to today’s therapies. The second grant is to provide effective therapeutics to prevent and cure malaria by developing long-term continuous culture system for P. vivax
USF will collaborate with Draper Laboratory on the projects. The dynamic public-private partnership combines the USF Global Infectious Disease Research team’s expertise in malaria parasite biology and human model development with Draper’s extensive experience in tissue engineering and the development of human mimetic in vitro (laboratory) models.
“We cannot eliminate one of the most prevalent causes of malaria in the world – Plasmodium vivax – unless we come up with new drugs or vaccines that target the dormant liver forms of the parasite,” said Dennis Kyle, Ph.D., professor of global health at the USF College of Public Health. “Current tools-- in vitro and animal models are either largely ineffective or cost-prohibitive in predicting which drugs may work best in humans. New human models are the basic building blocks needed to establish strong, credible drug and vaccine discovery programs, not only at USF but at other universities and companies working on new ways to fight malaria.”
Dr. Kyle is the principal investigator for a three-year Gates Foundation grant seeking to develop human liver models that could more quickly and accurately test potential drug candidates for vivax and falciparum malaria. Draper Laboratory’s efforts will be overseen by principal investigator Joseph Cuiffi, PhD, of the Draper Bioengineering Center at USF. They are working with John Adams, Ph.D., professor of global health at USF; Jeffrey Borenstein, Ph.D., a Draper physicist and biomedical engineer; and Joseph Charest, Ph.D., a Draper biomedical engineer. The original work on this technology at Draper was funded by the Center for the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology of which Draper is a founding member.
Dr. Adams is the principal investigator for a three-year Gates Foundation grant that brings together a worldwide network of leading investigators with the skills and resources needed to create long-term blood stage cultures ofvivax malaria. This form of malaria has proven particularly difficult to grow and sustain in the laboratory. Dr. Adams is working with Dr. Cuiffi and Dr. Kyle, as well Dr. Jetsumon (Sattabongkot) Prachumsri of the Vivax Research Center in the Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, and the Armed Forces Research Institute in Bangkok, Thailand; Dr. Peter Siba, director of the Papua New Guinea Institute for Medical Research; Dr. Louis Schofield, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute international research scholar at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia; and Dr. Osamu Kaneko at Nagasaki University in Japan.
“To be able to replicate and study the entire malaria infection process outside the body will be critical in developing new drugs with the potential to eliminate malaria,” said Draper’s Dr. Cuiffi.
Malaria, the Parasite Life Cycle, and Why Addressing the Liver Stage is Critical
Malaria affects 10 percent of the world’s population, killing nearly one million people a year in developing countries and crippling their economies. Most who die or become ill are poor pregnant women and children under age 5 in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia and South America.
In humans, the liver is the first target of the disease. The parasite is carried there after it enters the bloodstream through the bite of an infected mosquito. Once inside the liver, the infecting parasites for most types of malaria multiply and rupture liver cells, escaping back into the bloodstream. (In vivax malaria, some parasites can remain dormant in the liver for extended periods before infecting the blood.) The parasites, now modified to attack red blood cells, rapidly create more parasites, which spread throughout the bloodstream in waves.
Thus, the researchers are concentrating on the liver stage of the malaria life cycle for several reasons:
Microfludic Device Technology
To create new models to mimic human body conditions in which malaria parasites replicate, the researchers are using Draper’s prototype microfluidic device technology. The microfluidic device, consists of microscope slide-sized unit containing chambers through which fluid flow is maintained by a micro-pump. It is designed to support complex tissue growth, allowing liver or blood vessel cells to grow in three dimensions while experiencing physiologically relevant forces instead of on the static two-dimensional surface of a petri dish. This technology, previously unavailable in a lab setting, may also prove useful for screening large volumes of potential anti-malarial agents and evaluating their effectiveness.
“The Draper models offer unique microenvironments, so cells grow and function more normally,” Dr. Kyle said. “That’s important because one major roadblock to learning about the liver stage of the malaria parasite has been that the liver cells lose some of their basic functions and no longer metabolize drugs after a few days.”
The documentary features Dr. Jeff Borenstein, a physicist and biomedical engineer who leads the program in Tissue and Organ Constructs at Draper, and several members of his research team. He discusses how the Laboratory is applying capabilities previously developed for aerospace guidance systems to help replace the function of diseased or failing organs, and to create organ constructs for laboratory experimentation to aid in determining a patient’s course of treatment.
Borenstein and his research team are developing microfabricated polymer scaffolds with channels that mimic the capillary network in organs, enabling blood flow and delivery of oxygen and other nutrients for the developing organ. Like human capillaries, these channels are approximately one-seventh the width of a human hair.
“We are very excited about the prospects for our microfabrication-based organ assist and replacement technologies in providing solutions for these urgent medical needs,” Borenstein said.
Draper is applying technologies and tools from the physical sciences and engineering to critical healthcare needs, developing solutions to address traumatic brain injury, control internal hemorrhaging, detect infectious diseases, re-grow hearing, and make surgery safer and more effective.
Arnold and Stemmer’s joint development of directed protein evolution has helped those working in engineering, chemistry, and biochemistry find more practical and cost effective ways to develop improvements in areas including food ingredients, drugs, agricultural products, gene delivery systems, laundry aids, and biofuels.
Arnold, the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, has the distinction of having been elected to all three membership organizations of the National Academies -- the NAE in 2000, the Institute of Medicine in 2004, and the National Academy of Sciences in 2008.
Stemmer is the chief executive of Amunix, which develops drugs with an extended serum half-life, enabling less frequent injection.
The Charles Stark Draper Prize is a $500,000 annual award that honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society. It is considered the Nobel Prize of engineering.
The NAE will also honor Edward Crawley, a Member of the Corporation at Draper Laboratory, with the Bernard M. Gordon Prize for his efforts to improve engineering education through inclusion of skills needed in industry like teamwork, problem solving, and product development that may otherwise go untaught.
Mike Martin, Draper’s task lead for shuttle orbit flight control system development and optional services, was honored for algorithm development that improved and expanded the shuttle’s safety margins, as well as extended its ability to control the International Space Station (ISS) during and after assembly.
Zoran Milenkovic, a Draper staff member supporting NASA’s rendezvous and proximity operations team, was recognized for his work to help develop and refine the shuttle’s ability to rendezvous with the ISS, including an improved hand-held lidar (HHL) filter algorithm that astronauts use to gather range data as the shuttle approaches the station to dock.
Draper has been involved with U.S. human space work since designing the guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) system for the Apollo mission, and was honored in May with the Collier Trophy – the top U.S. aerospace award – as part of the ISS team. The Laboratory will help enable future human space missions through work on efforts like the avionics, fault-tolerant flight computer, and GN&C system for the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle; reentry algorithms for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle; and autonomous precision landing system technologies for the Lunar Landing Vehicle.
|(NASA photos): Astronaut Karen Nyberg pins the Silver Snoopy award on Mike Martin (left) and Zoran Milenkovic (right).|