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Chris Kitts, a professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department, also serves as director of the School of Engineering's Robotics Systems Laboratory (RSL). While advising undergraduate students on their senior design projects, technologies are often developed and field missions are conducted that support the theme of sustainability. These projects have ranged from developing energy-minimizing climate control systems for SCU's 2007 Solar Decathlon entry to conducting robotic-based assessment of anthropomorphic effects on estuaries.
Kitts views sustainability as an objective that can often benefit by the robotic and autonomous systems technologies being researched and advanced in the RSL. For example, intelligent control technologies can be used to maintain a comfortable environment in a home while also minimizing energy usage. In addition, his students' advanced diagnostic systems, developed to control NASA spacecraft, are equally effective at detecting and resolving problems in complex power systems such as solar energy farms.
Dr. Kitts is enthusiastic about the work he and his students do using their robotic systems to conduct science missions in the field. In these missions, student teams run a deployment using student-engineered systems while working with leading scientists along the West Coast. His group has performed many such missions relating to the health and evolution of coastal estuaries and lakes. They are also developing autonomous, student-designed aircraft and spacecraft systems to complement such in situ work with compelling remote sensing missions. This allows his team of graduate and undergraduate researchers to provide a comprehensive environmental monitoring capability to assess regional anthropomorphic effects over time.