A project using a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fixed-wing drone to map his family’s Kansas farm was the launch point for Evan Palmer from high school to this weekend and all that lays ahead.
The software engineering major will receive his diploma from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) tomorrow and head off to start his journey to earn his doctorate degree as a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellow.
As a sophomore at UNL, Evan found his way to the Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems (NIMBUS) Lab where he was immediately assigned to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project through the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska.
“Right away I joined an NSRI project, and that opportunity exposed me to participating in research and being on a research team,” he explained. “It showed me what a research career could look like, and a research career specifically in robotics. I was hooked.”
Through the NSRI project, the NIMBUS Lab team designed and developed several components for UAVs. Evan worked on the implementation of an autonomous landing zone detection system.
The purpose behind this initial NSRI project, which he worked on for more than a year, also inspired him. His father, a “tech-minded guy,” is in the military.
“It is an awesome opportunity to conduct research that has the potential to help keep soldiers, such as my dad, and civilians safe,” he said.
As a doctoral student, Evan plans to continue to contribute to the defense mission through various projects. His prestigious fellowship is funded through the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of the Under Secretary for Research and Engineering and the military services. It promotes education in science and engineering disciplines relevant to the defense mission.
“Evan is an incredibly brilliant, driven and creative student,” said NSRI Fellow Dr. Brittany Duncan, co-director of the NIMBUS Lab. “More than all of that, Evan is also an exceptionally hard worker and thrives on connecting projects, ideas and people.
“Throughout his undergraduate career, he has pursued opportunities and mentorship to help develop him into an outstanding graduate applicant — and ultimately earn the NDSEG fellowship. He is also motivated to help others, which he has demonstrated through his outreach, collaboration and dedication to his various projects.”
Like many graduates tomorrow, this point in life is bittersweet for Evan. The NIMBUS Lab, the defense projects he worked on and the relationships he has built have had an incredible impact on his life.
“Working at NIMBUS has been an amazing opportunity,” he said. “Any student who is interested in robotics and research should absolutely consider investing their time and energy into working with that lab.”
Learn more about the student opportunities through our institute at nsri.nebraska.edu/studentsofnsri.
About the National Strategic Research Institute
Through the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska leading scientists deliver innovative national security research, technology, product and strategy development, training and exercises, and subject matter expertise to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. One of only 14 DOD-designated University Affiliated Research Centers in the country, NSRI is sponsored by U.S. Strategic Command and works to ensure the United States’ safety and preparedness against increasingly sophisticated threats. Read about our mission.