Using machine learning to accurately count species

Computer science and ecology may seem like an unlikely combination at first, but it’s exactly the niche Oregon State University assistant professor, Rebecca Hutchinson, envisioned. Her research uses machine learning and statistical modeling to help scientists answer questions like: What will happen to monarch butterflies under climate change? What are the habitat requirements of olive-sided flycatchers?

Great strides

In a dramatic breakthrough for robotics, researchers in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University used a reinforcement learning algorithm operating in a simulated environment to train a bipedal robot to walk, run, hop, skip, and climb stairs in the real world.

The “sim-to-real” learning process represents a transformation in robotics control, according to Jonathan Hurst, professor of mechanical engineering and robotics.

Alumni spotlight: Alex Hagmüller '09

In 2015, Alex Hagmüller (’09 B.S. Mechanical Engineering) co-founded Aquaharmonics, a wave energy converter company, with Max Ginsburg (’10 B.S. Electrical Computer Engineering). After winning a $1.5 million Wave Energy Prize, they were awarded up to $5 million in U.S. Department of Energy funding to enhance and test their energy-converter concept in the ocean.

Where did your interest in wave energy come from?

Pushing 3D metal printing further

Additive manufacturing (AM)—also known as 3D printing—is rapidly disrupting the manufacturing sector, providing freedom of design, allowing a transition from rapid prototyping to real commercialization, decreasing material waste, and reducing time and cost of manufacturing. Furthermore, AM methods can be utilized for manufacturing of functionally graded materials (FGMs).

Roundabout flight plan leads to commission as second lieutenant

In 2018, Ellie Parker landed an internship at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. A rising junior at the time, she worked in the aeromechanics branch, helping to test Ingenuity, the Mars helicopter, in the world’s largest wind tunnel.

“It was one of the coolest jobs you could have,” Parker said. “It was one of the very few times where I really sat there and thought maybe I should consider going into engineering rather than the military.”