CSE News Story

EECS Students Help Mars Rover Team Take 2nd Place in RASC-AL Forum

Ilya Wagner and Chad Rowland are volunteer members of the Mars Rover Team, which recently won second place in the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Forum this past May, 2005, in Cocoa Beach, FL. At the RASC-AL Forum, student design teams present their research to peers, NASA, and industry. For additional information about RASC-AL, please see the College of Engineering press release at http://www.engin.umich.edu/news/RASCAL/index.html.

Rowland, president of the winning team, recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. He was on the team since his freshman year, and says “Not only was it a lot of fun, it increased my skills in management, giving presentations, writing research reports, and team work. All are critical for success in the working world.” Rowland begins the Edison Engineering Development Program at General Electric Healthcare in the fall.

Wagner, currently a graduate student in the Computer Science & Engineering Division, joined the Mars Rover Team in 2003, while an undergraduate student majoring in Computer Engineering. He says that, “Overall, the project is a great way to be on the cutting edge of space exploration technology and learn to work with different majors at the U of M (student members represent several departments in the College of Engineering). Moreover, the team helps students to get in contact with industry and try on administrative responsibilities. For all of these reasons, I absolutely enjoy being on the team.”

Wagner says he has always had a “romance for space,” and appreciates having an outlet for this passion through the Mars Rover Team. Starting a year ago as a volunteer with no experience, he has worked his way to being VP for Research, managing groups of students. “Good projects need a pool of students from a variety of disciplines,” explained Wagner. He is proud of the fact that the team is recognized by NASA, and that the team is so strongly committed to public outreach.

Wagner’s primary research focus is the verification of digital circuits. He began work on a verification project a year ago, and presented a paper based on this work at the recent Design Automation Conference (DAC), June 2005. The paper is, “StressTest: An Automatic Approach to Test Generation via Activity Monitors,” by Ilya Wagner, Prof. Valeria Bertacco, and Prof. Todd Austin.

Wagner’s primary academic advisor is Prof. Valeria Bertacco, and he also works work with Prof. Todd Austin on a project. Both faculty are members of the Advanced Computer Architecture Laboratory (ACAL). Wagner enjoys working with Bertacco, saying she cares about her students, and he appreciates her recent ties to industry. He talks about his interest in verification, saying that individuals will create a wonderful design, turn it on, and then wonder why it doesn’t work. He figures out what will make the design work. He also appreciates the spirit of easy collaboration with the excellent students at Michigan. While driving through LA at DAC, he and his student colleagues discussed and found a solution for a problem that another student was having on their project.

Wagner sums up his world: “There are two things – chips and rockets.”