Samantha Craig with winning snow plow

Photo courtesy of: Russ College of Engineering and Technology

Sam Craig

L-R: Russ College faculty member Wouter Pelgrum, Samantha Craig, and faculty member Frank van Graas at the conference

Photo courtesy of: Russ College of Engineering and Technology

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Electrical engineering student presents at international conference

An electrical engineering senior at Ohio University's Russ College of Engineering and Technology recently presented a paper on a winning team project at an international satellite navigation conference.

Samantha Craig of Worthington, Ohio, attended the Institute of Navigation's (ION) Global Navigation Satellite Systems 2011 conference in Portland, Ore., in late September. When her team won ION's national autonomous snow plow competition earlier this year, they were invited to show off their design and present a paper to the more than 1,500 experts, researchers, and students in attendance.

As juniors, Craig and her team members Derek Fulk and Matthew Miltner won ION's first competition for autonomous snow plows in January. Held in St. Paul, Minn., the competition tasked participants with designing, building and operating a fully autonomous snow plow to remove snow from a designated path using state-of-the-art navigation and control technologies.

"All the attendees had the opportunity to view, interact with and ask questions about our snow plow, which was taken and displayed in the exhibit hall throughout the conference," explained Craig.

He team's plow used a 360-degree laser to spot a set of pillars, or beacons, the team places around the plowing area. An onboard computer then determined how the snowplow should move.

The team was advised by Russ Professor of Electrical Engineering Frank Van Graas and Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Wouter Pelgrum. 

According to Van Graas, Craig was able to meet several pioneers of satellite navigation and also took away another research accomplishment.

"Sam was also the second author on a well-received paper on the use of atomic clocks in aircraft environments. In preparation for the paper, she spent many hours in the lab manipulating magnetic fields with large magnetic coils to separate gravitational from magnetic field effects that affect the accuracy of the clock," Van Graas said.

The snowplow team, which received $3,000 in monetary awards, is currently working on its submission for ION's 2012 competition.