Local drone company sponsors CSU engineering project

Julia Trowbridge

Colorado State University students are working with drones. 

Using aerial robotics vision tracking through drones, CEO of Fort Collins-based Red Mountain Scientific, Mike Moses, is revolutionizing high infrastructure inspections and interning Colorado State University  students through the Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Program.

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The Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Program at CSU is the capstone engineering design course of the mechanical engineering department. This program gives mechanical engineering students the opportunity to work with industry or faculty sponsored projects to design a machine that performs some kind of task. The task depends on which industry is sponsoring the project. 

“Each senior design project has multiple components,” said Wade Troxell, mayor of Fort Collins and corporate liaison for the Senior Design Program.  “Students need to define the problem and come up with a solution that functions, is economic, sustainable and reproducible. It’s a good opportunity for mechanical engineering students.”

The company specifically looks into aerial robotics for drone vision tracking, working on improving the drone’s visual recognition and identifying potential problems in inspections.

“We have a league of commercial aerial drones with on board sensors with GPS tracking, collision detection and a 20 megapixel camera in order to analyze tall structures,” Moses said. “Using the drones for this task rather than people keeps people safe and out of these high spaces.”

The two-semester project will teach interns to use new tools in artificial intelligence and scientific programming to have the drones analyze the image data and to produce quality reports of possible issues with the infrastructure inspection. This would eliminate the need for a human behind each drone, even though the drone can fly itself.

“This ability would allow for a decrease in cost and work hours currently required to perform these critical maintenance operations which would translate into lower cost renewable energy,” said Wes Tulli, a fourth year mechanical engineering student interning with Red Mountain Scientific. “With this advancement, it will be possible to conduct a normally six to eight hour task, utilizing a team of two, only 45 minutes.”

The project is mutually beneficial for Moses and the students. 

“I think that this will be a very rewarding project,” Tulli said. “It’s designed to allow us as students of engineering to truly take the reins and run with our ideas, but will also allow us to work closely with experienced professionals who can help us. I look forward to working with Mike (Moses) and his team.”

 

About Mike Moses:

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  • Formerly worked for SSG, a software consultancy based in Dallas, TX
  • Formerly worked for Systems Engineer for eMED Technologies
  • Formerly was a Research Ecologist for the U.S. Department of the Interior 
  • BS in Engineering from Texas A&M
  • MS in Ecology from Texas A&M

 

Reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.