Michael Dorothy Receives ARCS Foundation Scholar Award

Michael Dorothy Receives ARCS Foundation Scholar Award

Aerospace Engineering at Illinois graduate student Michael R. Dorothy has received an ARCS Foundation Scholar Award.

ARCS Foundation advances science and technology in the United States by providing financial awards to academically outstanding U.S. citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering, and medical research. The award provides scholars with a tuition/fee waiver and a stipend and is renewable for up to three years.

Dorothy, who earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University, works with Assistant Prof. Soon-Jo Chung on flapping flight research, and has helped to build a RoboBat, a robotic bat, for experiments. The work was chosen for the Best Paper presented during the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 2009 Infotech@Aerospace (I@A) Conference.

Said Dorothy: “Humans and animals don’t have to consciously think about many repetitive, rhythmic motions such as walking, swimming, or flapping wings. Multiple oscillators in the spinal cord coordinate with low-level reflexes, say, perhaps, from tripping, to automate most of the process. Then, the brain only needs to think about and send high-level signals: do I want to walk or run?

“My research explores the properties of these oscillator networks,” he continued. “How do we build them so that they’ll synchronize quickly and remain stable? How do we embed them in a robot in a way that will make top-level control design easier? Then, we apply the results to a bat-like flapping flier.”

ARCS Foundation was founded in 1958 to address what was recognized as the critical future and growing need for U.S. scientists and engineers. One hundred percent of scholar award contributions — from corporations, endowments, individuals, the all-women volunteer members of ARCS Foundation and money designated for Chapters’ Scholar Funds — goes to fund these motivated students. Many alums of ARCS Foundation funding have entered the nation’s government agencies and corporations to work on the advancement of U.S. science and technology.