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A Man In A Suit Holding A NASA Plaque With UH Alumnus And Awardee Evan Kawamura

UH alumnus honored by NASA for pioneering drone research

NASA has named UH Engineering graduate, Dr. Evan Kawamura, as the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Ames Honor Award for Best First Paper. His paper, “Extremal Control and Modified Explicit Guidance for Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” aims to enhance drone efficiency and autonomy by improving navigation and control for various tasks using a new control method, and stood out among more than 130 nominated works.

Dr. Kawamura credits his success to his mentors, particularly Dr. Dilmurat Azimov, a UH mechanical engineering professor. Their discussions on modifying George Cherry’s original explicit guidance equations, which were fundamental to the Apollo missions’ lunar guidance, inspired Dr. Kawamura’s award-winning paper.

Dr. Azimov and Dr. Kawamura plan to continue their research collaboration, which began during Kawamura’s undergraduate years. Kawamura is also expected to serve as a NASA expert and mentor for students in the NASA-funded Hawai’i’s Aspiring Aerospace Engineers Academy (HAAEA) project led by Dr. Azimov.

In a nod to space exploration history, Dr. Kawamura’s work uses a modified version of the guidance laws from the Apollo program, coinciding with the current Artemis missions aiming to return to the moon. While the guidance laws for Artemis remain unknown, Kawamura feels that the use of Cherry’s work would be a fitting tribute.

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