Featured Student of Winter Quarter 2017: Maurice Filo

Maurice Filo is a Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. student who has been working under Faculty member Bassam Bamieh. His research focuses on applying control theory to spatially distributed dynamical systems. After receiving his B.S. in electrical engineering from the Lebanese University he went on to get his Master’s degree from the American University of Beirut. 

Currently Maurice is working on mobile sensors in distributed stochastic environments, investigating cochlear instabilities using structured stochastic uncertainties, and a preconditioned constrained gradient descent for optimal control problems. He would like to use his work to collaborate with otologists to better understand the ear from an engineering point of view. Part of the reason for his passion for control theory and dynamical systems is due to a system analysis and design course taught by professor Bamieh when he was studying in Beirut. Ultimately Maurice wants apply for a professor position.

While Maurice’s wife and family are back home in Lebanon, he gets to visit a few times a year between his studies. Outside of school and skyping with his family, he is known to play piano and study music, which is part of the reason why studying the ear fascinates him. He also likes to visit with friends and walk around campus and the beach as an escape. 

More information about Maurice can be viewed here


2015 CCDC Best Thesis Award: John Simpson-Porco

 The Center is pleased to recognize John Simpson-Porco as the winner of the 2015 CCDC Best Thesis Award. John’s thesis,   completed in May 2015, was titled “Distributed Control of Inverter-Based Power Grids”. John’s work focused on “modeling, analysis and design of microgrids and coordinated strategies for distributed energy generation”, especially dealing with droop control inverters. As the nomination letter for John’s thesis states, “These strategies are what makes a microgrid smart, i.e., capable to optimize its performance (power losses, battery management, etc) in the face of time-varying resources and demands.” John’s thesis, supervised by Professor Francesco Bullo, resulted in 8 journal publications, including a 2013 Automatica paper that won a prize as the best paper in control technology in Automatica for the period 2011-2013. John’s other awards include a Frenkel Foundation Fellowship and an NSERTC Fellowship. He was featured as the CCDC student of the month in November 2015. He currently holds a tenure track position at the University of Waterloo. We congratulate John on his accomplishments and this latest recognition of his contributions.



2015 Mohammed Dahleh Distinguished Lecture: Jeff Gore

   On Monday November 30th, 2015 we welcomed guest Jeff Gore from MIT as the 2015 Mohammed Dahleh Distinguished Lecturer. The Mohammed Dahleh Distinguished Lectureship award has been created to honor the memory, innovative spirit, and contributions of Mohammed Dahleh to our scientific community and to the University of California, Santa Barbara. Awardees are selected based on their pioneering work, extraordinary accomplishments, and promise for exceptional contributions. 

   Jeff's talk was titled "Cooperation, Cheating and Collapse in Biological Populations" discussing laboratory microcosms used to explore theoretically proposed early warning signs of impending population collapse in nature. Dr. Gore found that the experimental yeast populations cooperatively break down the sugar sucrose, meaning below a critical size, the population cannot sustain itself. The cooperative nature of the yeast growth on sucrose makes the population susceptible to the spread of what he calls "cheater cells" which do not contribute to the public good and reduce the resilience of the population. 

  Jeff Gore is the 13th recipient of the Mohammed Dahleh Distinguished Lecturer Award (2003-15). More information on this award is found under the Seminar Tab located above.



DARPA Robotics Challenge: RoboSimian finishedin 5th place!

NASA’s Jet Propulsions Labortory (JPL) designed and built RoboSimian while UCSB’s Robotics Lab, led by Katie Byl and graduate students Brian Satzinger and Chelsea Lau, helped write the software to control how the robot moves. With an ape-like body and spider-like limbs, RoboSimian is a slow but incredibly strong robot designed to offer lots of torque.  Each limb can function both as a leg or an arm, which have extremely strong, pincher-like hands able to grab onto things securely enough to support its own weight. 

Paired against 22 other robots in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, RoboSimian took fifth place and was one of only two robots to not require human intervention during the course. Each robot is put through a series of tasks, including driving a vehicle through a slalom course, cutting a hole in a half-inch-thick panel of drywall using a cordless power drill, and walking up a set of stairs. DARPA officials, to better simulate the disorientation of a true disaster situation, also incorporated surprise obstacles and tasks each day. The contest is designed to simulate a “rescue scenario” in which robot are used because the environment is too hazardous for human intervention. This challenge comes as a result of the hazardous conditions and devastation to Tohoku, Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

More information about RoboSimian