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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 and 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.

We seek 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.

We also work on novel interfaces to drones - at the AirCRAFT Lab you can control a drone by talking to it, or by using gestures, or through virtual/augmented reality. We consider our drones to be like new born babies or toddlers and we play the role of parents and teachers and use neural networks/machine learning/supervised learning to help them - they are learning to understand their surroundings by recognizing the landmarks around them, create a maps with spatial relationships  between them that will help them navigate a new environment without the use of GPS, using only their cameras. 

Our drones are also adaptive; they can change their shape in flight to navigate through tight spaces; our unmanned systems are resilient - they are learning to continue flying even if they are damaged; our drones are friendly and like large crowds - they are learning to fly in swarms, and reconfigure themselves as a need arises; our drones are helpful - they can deliver bio-control measures for pest control in fields and farms; our drones are sentries - they are learning to recognize intruders (drones) and track them to keep us safe; our drones are also teachers - they are used in the classroom to help crystallize fundamental concepts through real world applications.

Visit the AirCRAFT Lab webpage for more details.

Aviation Safety, Aviation Physiology, and Ergonomics (ASAPE) Lab

The Aviation Safety, Aviation Physiology and Ergonomics (ASAPE) Lab is a laboratory in the Department of Aviation Science at Saint Louis University. The ASAPE Lab researchers study human factors, aeronautical decision-making, manual flying skills, cockpit automation, aviation safety, aviation physiology, aeromedical research, and pilots’ selection, training, and retention in commercial aviation.

The ASAPE Lab's mission is to evaluate the pilots’ cognitive workload, decision-making skills, and other associated human factors during inflight emergencies by assessing pilots' physiological, mental, and behavioral characteristics.

 Equipment:

  • Elite PI-1000 Advanced Aviation Training Device (AATD)
  • Tobii Pro Glasses 2 – Eye Tracker
  • Shimmer 3 GSR+ - Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) Sensor
  • EMOTIV EPOC+ 14-Channel Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Wellue Continuous Ring Pulse Oximeter
Center for Aviation Education Research (CARE) Laboratory

The Center for Aviation Education Research (CARE) Laboratory is a laboratory in the Department of Aviation Science at Saint Louis University.  In this multi-use space, the researchers study studied involves three closely related areas:

  • The scholarship of teaching and learning
  • Complex psychomotor skill acquisition and maintenance
  • Diversity

Research into these areas may be summed up as attending to four primary questions:

  • How do people learn to fly?
  • What is the best way to teach flight?
  • How do people and machines work together to fly?
  • How can we make aviation more accessible?

Collaborative research is conducted with faculty in the Aerospace Engineering and Biomedical Engineering departments.  Within these collaborative efforts, the following research is conducted. 

  • Brain activity during simulation
  • Human/controller interface psychomotor skill acquisition
  • Ecological validity

Collaborative research in Diversity in Aviation is conducted between the department and faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering, SLU’s director of diversity and community engagement and SLU’s assistant director of the Center for Service/Community Engagement.  These collaborative research efforts include the following.

  • Efficacy of aviation programs for underrepresented youth
  • The experience of the SLU Aviation undergraduate students as they engage in a diverse community

Additional research is conducted to provide a multi-modal, collaborative environment that promotes innovative research, development, and delivery of educational theory and practice within the applied science domain of aviation education. The main goals of this research are to:

  • Provide a space that facilitates research of the scholarship of teaching and learning in aviation education
  • Provide a space for the research and development of innovations in teaching and learning with technology
  • Provide a space for the creation and development of open educational resources in aviation education
  • Provide a space that fosters the Jesuit mission of justice as it applies to aviation education
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.

Click here for more information on the CHROME Lab. 

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% range.

Laser Peening Lab

Laser peening is an emerging technology to improve the durability of precision metal components ranging from turbine blades and transmission gears to medical implants. The laboratory consists of a 1,064 nm infrared pulsed laser, target positioning table, and associated optics. The lab is used to perform experiments involving laser-induced residual stress fields in precision metal components, with the intent to extend the fatigue life cycles. In addition, this lab is also used to investigate the interaction between nanosecond laser and metallic materials.

Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering Laboratory

The focus of this lab is the development and evaluation of biomaterial and stem cell based therapies for the enhancement of skeletal muscle regeneration and function following injury, disease, and aging. The hope is to engineer functional skeletal muscle in vitro, which when implanted allows for full recovery of skeletal muscle structure and function in vivo. The lab also works on electrical stimulation as a new approach to physical therapy following skeletal muscle injury.

Visit the Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering Lab webpage for more details.

PATH: People and Technology Horizon

PATH is a multidisciplinary group of researchers with a shared interest in rethinking technology for emerging and contemporary communication ecologies.

Technological advancements have impacted almost every facet of life as we know it. Our environment is replete with technologies that entertain, inform, and connect us. This deep inter-connection means that we can no longer design and create new technologies without a deep understanding of human interaction, and we can no longer study human communication without a deep understanding of the affordances and limitations of technology. Treating these two domains as separate has stifled innovation and led to numerous unintended consequences - such as the release of designs that are unnecessarily restrictive and at times, even counterproductive. We experience the outcome of this disconnected design process today - often feeling frustrated and fatigued with our technologies and wishing things were just “easier.” 

The People and Technology Horizon group aims to bridge the gap between humans and technology. Through deep, multi-disciplinary research collaborations, PATH integrates cutting-edge findings from linguistics and anthropology to engineer next-generation technologies that capture, facilitate, and augment human potential to meet the demands of the day. We co-create and collaborate with community partners, with an intentional focus on delivering intuitive, impactful designs rooted within a community’s existing ecology. Our unique research approach creates team-based, problem-centered learning opportunities for students across STEM and social science fields at SLU, preparing them for careers in industry and research, and establishing SLU as a distinguished center for socially engaged design.

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.

Visit the Soft Tissue Engineering Lab webpage for more details.

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.

The WATER Institute

WATER Institute faculty investigators conduct interdisciplinary research that addresses critical water resource challenges while strengthening existing efforts across the University.

The research conducted at the WATER Institute focuses primarily on three critical areas:

  • Addressing water-related social justice issues at home and around the world
  • Protecting aquatic ecosystems
  • Improving infrastructure to secure water supplies and address key societal needs

Visit slu.edu/water for more information about the WATER Institute.