So many kids grow up learning about space and wanting to work for NASA, but for ECE PhD student Schuyler Eldridge (BS’09, PhD’15), that dream is now a reality.
He was recently granted a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship for his work on the project, “Biologically-Inspired Hardware for Land/Aerial Robots,” which aims to design a new type of computer that can sense, learn and adapt—just like a living brain.
This fellowship, renewable for up to three years, provides $70,000 per year for tuition, a stipend and compensation for other expenses. It also allows Eldridge a chance to work with a NASA mentor remotely and at multiple NASA locations over the next few years.
Eldridge works in the group and the where he conducts research focusing on what he describes as “leveraging the efficiency and faulty tolerance of the brain to design hardware that solves difficult engineering problems in the areas of robotics and VLSI.”
“Receiving this fellowship gives me a sense of security and direction for the rest of my program of study and more importantly, a sense of pride as I know this reflects favorably on the ECE department, the Neuromorphics Lab and Boston University as a whole,” he said.
Eldridge uses biological models to design hardware for enhancing the ability of autonomous robots to process visual sensor data and learn obstacle avoidance techniques as they navigate unknown environments. He also investigates the use of biological networks to improve the faulty tolerance of CMOS devices and works closely with his advisor, Assistant Professor .
“Schuyler is a highly motivated, hard-working and well-organized individual. He is not afraid to work across multiple disciplines and is always willing to help others,” said Joshi, noting that Eldridge has found a nice balance of engineering and neuroscience in his research. “We hope this fellowship will allow him to work closely with NASA on their next mission and really give him a chance to make an impact.”
Toward that end, Eldridge has big plans.
“I would like to see the biological hardware that I design wind up in the next interplanetary rover or help solve reliability issues associated with CMOS scaling,” he said.