Parks College Centers and Labs

The classroom isn’t the only place for scholarship at Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology. Students and faculty can continue their research in centers and labs in all fields of engineering and aviation.

Aircraft Computational & Resource Aware Fault Tolerance (AirCRAFT) Lab

The AirCRAFT Lab's goals are to leverage the advantages of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) - versatility, low cost, flexibility, minimal risk overhead and the tacit acceptance of a potential loss. This makes them the ideal platforms for experimental evaluation of cutting edge, high risk/high reward flight control algorithms, especially those addressing adverse flight conditions such as failures of sensors and actuators.

The lab seeks to address aircraft safety from a holistic perspective, starting from a more expanded definition of aircraft safety to include the performance of various sensors and actuators on the aircraft, its structure, the pilot who is flying, to the performance capabilities of the aircraft itself.

Air Traffic Control Laboratory

SLU’s Department of Aviation Science purchased and installed an Air Traffic Control (ATC) simulator system from ADACEL that includes a control tower and RADAR simulator labs. ADACEL is the same simulation system the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense uses to train active air traffic controllers.

The control tower simulator consists of three positions: local control, flight data and ground control. It is voice activated, meaning when students give instructions the computer recognizes them and responds accordingly. There is also a pseudo-pilot position for the control tower simulator to add and assist to different scenarios. The simulated airport consists of two parallel runways and one intersecting runway with one main terminal and two fixed base operators (FBOs).

The RADAR simulator consists of two radar scope positions: North-approach control and South-approach control. It also has two radar assist positions. The airspace consists of four arrival gates and four departure gates, and services the main airport and one satellite airport. The RADAR simulator is run by two pseudo-pilot positions.

The RADAR lab and the control tower lab are linked together so both labs work together as would a real tower and radar facilities. Students coordinate through intercom systems for arrivals and departures. Frequency radios are used to communicate with the simulated aircraft and students must practice crew resource management to facilitate the smooth flow of air traffic.

There are 50-plus air traffic control locally created scenarios ranging from the very basics of vectoring, taxiing aircraft to the runway, clearing airplanes for takeoff, and utilizing all four arrival gates and departure gates simultaneously. These scenarios incorporate a good majority of the air traffic rules associated in the FAAH 7110.65 rule book.

Center for Fluids at All Scales

The purpose of the Center for Fluids at All Scales is to promote research and disseminate knowledge on the study of fluids at all physical scales, from the microscopic to the macroscopic. The center also aims to promote research on the application of fluid knowledge to various areas of the sciences and engineering.

Examples of current research include studies of the micron-sized channels in microfluidic devices and blood vessels, the turbulence found behind parachutes and aircraft, and the superfluid interiors of neutron stars.

CFAS is inherently a multidisciplinary enterprise that regroups researchers and students from Saint Louis University and elsewhere. CFAS sponsors monthly seminars on the activities of its members, as well as on research presented by visitors and guests. CFAS also aims to promote joint research projects regrouping experts of various disciplines and academic departments.

Center for Sensors and Sensor Systems

The purpose of this center is to provide specialized technological research and development in the area of sensor and sensor systems design and integration.

The center’s mission is to lead multi-disciplinary efforts focused on the systemic development and evaluation of sensor systems aiding in the creation of automated safety and security applications. The goal of these efforts is to design, implement and evaluate such embedded systems as solutions to emerging needs, and to disseminate these solutions as widely as possible through research, publication, education, training and consulting.

CHROME Lab

In the Collaborative Haptics, Robotics and Mechatronics (CHROME) Lab, our research is centered on how we can effectively promote effective human-machine interaction in numerous applications including education, medicine and consumer technologies. Here, engineers work collaboratively with professionals to create new technologies that make the world a better place.

In medicine, we work with neurosurgeons to design steerable devices that can remove tumors in the brain through a single, small hole in the skull. We frequently meet with surgeons to brainstorm new ideas and progress on current ones, and we often get to observe the surgeries that we are working to improve.

The CHROME Lab  joined forces with SLU neurosurgeon, Richard Bucholz, M.D., and his talented team to perform automated neurological assessments toward increasing the accuracy of post-surgical assessments of ICU patients and ensuring that no evaluations are missed due to heavy staff workloads.

In consumer technologies, we are building the next generation of touchscreens that will enable individuals to physically “feel” objects being displayed on screen. Imagine a touchscreen experience where you no longer feel the glass surface, but instead, textures such as slippery, sticky, bumpy or smooth. Imagine having to no longer constantly look at the screen in order to navigate on it, but instead, being able to feel your way around the screen. This is the experience the CHROME Lab is working to create.

In education, we are exploring how we can use vibrations and sounds on touchscreens to enhance the accessibility of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Because much of the content in STEM disciplines is visual, it’s challenging for non-visual learners, particularly those that are blind or visually impaired, to have equal opportunities in these disciplines. In this project, we work to promote a more inclusive, universal experience for students of all learning styles and are interested in understanding how we can leverage new touch capabilities to do this.

Concrete and Materials Laboratory

This laboratory is located in the basement of the McDonnell Douglas Hall and forms a key component of the concrete research performed at Saint Louis University. The laboratory allows faculty, staff and students to test and evaluate various fresh and hardened concrete properties that influence the performance of concrete members.

Laboratory equipment includes:

Compression Testing Machine

A 500,000-pound compression machine equipped with a test pilot digital indicator is available in the materials lab. The machine includes a channel system that is used to capture load data and additional channels to capture data from strain gages, compressometers and extensometers.

Milwaukee Core Drill

A core drill and rig equipped with diamond-dressed bits capable of coring reinforced concrete members. This 20-amp model features 4.8 peak horsepower and can handle core bits from 2 inches to 10 inches in diameter. Additional features include two speeds (450 and 900 rpm), clutch protection for gears and motor, and built-in water swivel.

Rapid Chloride Permeability Test

The system is used to evaluate the resistance of concrete to the ingress of chloride ions by indirectly measuring the degree to which chloride ions penetrate into saturated concrete. The system can also be used to measure the penetration depth of chloride ions after an electric potential has been applied to the specimen to determine the Chloride Migration Coefficient, which can be used to estimate the chloride diffusion coefficient for service-life calculations.

Cement Autoclave

The cement autoclave provides an accelerated means of estimating delayed expansion of Portland cement caused by the slow hydration of calcium oxide, magnesium oxide or both. In this operation, changes in length of test bars are measured after being exposed to controlled steam pressure and temperature for a prescribed period of time. The Boekel cement autoclave is ASME certified and is the leader in expansion testing equipment.   

Sonometer

This tool is used to perform freeze-thaw tests, dynamic testing of concrete specimens, assess uniformity of in-place concrete, and evaluate the expansion, bending and twisting of materials by measuring changes in resonant frequency. The unit consists of a 30-watt portable driver, pick-up circuit with a cartridge mounted on an adjustable metal stand and control unit with a 3-inch (76.2 mm) oscilloscope, voltmeter counter and amplifier. Amplitude and frequency of vibrations can be controlled in the range of 0 to 25 watts, 400 to 12,000 cps and frequency displayed within a 2 percent range.

Soft Tissue Engineering Laboratory

A major challenge of tissue engineering is to build three-dimensional in-vitro models for studying tissue physiology and pathology. Three-dimensional in-vitro models are the bridge between conventional two-dimensional tissue culture, which does not capture the complexity of human tissue, and animal models, which are costly, time consuming and raise ethical concerns.

The goal of our lab is to engineer and characterize synthetic biomaterials in order to provide a complete toolbox for building 3D in vitro models as platforms for toxicology screening and for the study of disease progression. Our current focus is on models of solid tumors as well as models to study neurotoxicity, a side effect associated with chemotherapy. In addition, we actively seek to apply our work towards other disease systems and congruous research areas such as biosensors and drug delivery.

Space Systems Research Laboratory

The mission of the Space Systems Research Laboratory is to perform world-class research in the design, fabrication and operation of space systems and to produce world-class space systems engineers. Our emphasis is on the end-to-end system. It informs our research activities, as well as how we train our students.

The lab welcomes students of all majors and skill levels, from freshmen through doctoral candidates. No prior experience is required. There are many ways to participate in the Space Systems Research Laboratory: performing graduate or undergraduate research, as a student volunteer or summer intern, or while enrolled in senior design project and formal coursework.

Tinker Lab

The Tinker Lab is a learning, hands-on environment that welcomes all Parks College students and faculty. Equipped with computers, laser etchers and 3D printers, the Tinker Lab provides students with a multifaceted environment to help encourage and develop the innovation mindset within each individual.

Led by graduate students, the Tinker Lab was created through the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) grant received by Sridhar Condoor, Ph.D. KEEN is a collaboration of U.S. universities that strive to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineering and technology students. KEEN’s mission is to graduate engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset so they can create personal, economic, and societal value through a lifetime of meaningful work.

Featured lab equipment includes:

Objet 3D Printer

From figurines to full working gear systems, students are able to bring creations to life. The printer takes a 3D computer model and print it in plastic. At fast speed and high accuracy, this machine is able to print down to 0.1 mm.

Stratasys 3D Printer

In a matter of hours, the machine is able to produce 3D models that meet structural requirements. This machine is used in all areas of engineering for making prototypes and fully functional products.

Epilog Laser Etcher

This small machine is able to produce high accuracy etchings and cuts and is easy to learn and use with most materials. Many of our students use the laser etcher to cut the skeleton for airplane wings as well as etching part numbers for the bill of materials.

NextEngine 3D Scanner

Students are able to take any object and make a digital model that is accurate and fast with this 3D scanner. The machine uses lasers and pictures to map out data points on an object. Once this model is created, you are able to make changes, duplications and perform engineering analysis.

For more information on the Tinker Lab or to get involved, contact Condoor at condoor@slu.edu .

Tissue Engineering Scaffold Fabrication Laboratory

The focus of this lab is the fabrication and evaluation of tissue engineering scaffolds capable of replicating both the form and function of the native extracellular matrix. Through the creation of idealized tissue engineering structures, we aim to harness the body’s own reparative potential and accelerate regeneration.

The lab is primarily interested in utilization of the electrospinning process to create nanofibrous polymeric structures that can be applied to a wide range of applications. Of principal interest is the fabrication of scaffolds capable of promoting wound healing and the filling of large tissue defects, as well as orthopedic applications such as bone and ligament repair.

The lab is equipped for a number of scaffold fabrication techniques, scaffold mechanical evaluation, protein analysis, and the determination of cell-scaffold interactions.