At Vaughn College, we are an insatiable group of learners with curious minds, always looking to explore the dynamic aeronautical world around us. Our faculty and student body are continuously working together to discover―and overcome―limitations in the industries we serve and uncover new possibilities for the best possible future. And we are not alone in this quest.

Richard Branson is always seeking ways to redefine aeronautics―which is something we at Vaughn know a thing or two about. His recent “space-tourism” venture, Virgin Galactic, is planning to bring space travel to anyone who wants to go into orbit, experience the Earth from an unforgettable perspective, and fly with the stars―as opposed to the clouds.

The journey begins with the “SpaceShipTwo,” a rocket-powered plane that flies into space after it detaches from its mothership. The space plane travels at a speed of 2,300 miles per hour and reaches top speed in eight seconds. An interesting incentive to taking this scenic route is to reach 50 miles above Earth, which will earn each passenger astronaut wings from the USA. With the spaceship’s first successful test flight underway, Branson believes that the first flight could begin sometime this year. And many customers are ready, as Virgin Galactic already has close to 700 customers who have either put down a deposit on a ticket or have already paid in full.

And Richard Branson is not alone in outer space. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin just completed its tenth test launch with a projection of starting flights later this year, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship is currently being revamped with stainless steel. All three are orbiting in the same lofty vicinity, aspiring to be the first enterprise to bring their customers into space.

The curious minds of these three pioneers, coupled with the advances in aerospace over many decades is what―soon enough―will make space tourism an actual reality. From the first manned moon landing in 1969 via the Apollo 11 to sending robots (remember PUFFER?) to space to explore surfaces on planets such as Mars, to the groundbreaking research that crews discover in NASA’s International Space Station―space travel and discoveries have come a long way. Branson, Bezos and Musk are examples of those who are willing to go the extra mile to prove that something wonderful is just beyond the horizon.

At Vaughn, we are dedicated to challenging the current norms and naysayers to explore the possibilities of our world. We are committed to teaching, learning and growing in the fields of aviation, aeronautics, robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), and other future-forward disciplines. That’s because we know the journey is just beginning―and what a spectacular ride it will be.

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For the aviation sector, SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions offer a higher level of productivity for airline maintenance operations, as well the opportunity for improved safety and cost reductions. However, this technology trend has been slow to pick up speed for maintenance professionals in their quest for emerging technology solutions.

This blog provides three cogent reasons why the adoption of cloud-based computing is a no-brainer for those in charge of making decisions for maintenance operations.

1. Anywhere, Anytime

Today, cloud computing is revolutionizing business as more users are now free to use applications and information from any device with Internet access―such as tablets on the maintenance shop floor, or laptops out in the field. Since all software and information is stored remotely and managed on a cloud-based server, users no longer have to worry about security, data corruption, viruses, computer theft, or equipment malfunctions. The provider of the service manages and updates all information stored online so the users of the service―or their Information Technology (IT) departments―don’t have to, thus freeing up time for employees to focus on other tasks. What would you rather have your maintenance team working on―aviation maintenance or computer software maintenance?

2. Real-time Access

Another reason implementing a cloud-based system makes sense is how it optimizes the mechanic and his or her work. The truth of the matter is no one in the maintenance operation benefits more from cloud computing than the mechanic. Having real-time, immediate access to the most up-to-date libraries and regulatory information right on the shop floor is a tremendous improvement over older processes which require a dedicated workstation, or even a special room for maintenance and regulatory libraries.

Order data, manuals, service information, parts availability, customer contact info, the latest regulatory updates, the most current maintenance procedures, forms, business procedures and more are all available the moment they are needed. And this information can be accessed anywhere from any computer with an Internet connection; that adds mobility to the job. Who wouldn’t want that.

3. Easy Collaboration

The third reason to welcome cloud-based aviation maintenance is that it allows for the harmonious transfer of information for everyone within the operation. With the cloud, aviation maintenance professionals can more easily and efficiently manage and share information with fellow workers and the company for improved collaboration.

It should be noted that collaboration is one of the key advantages of cloud computing. As everything is stored in the cloud, it is easy for multiple users to access the same application and data at the same time and easily share information about particular data. Notes with specialized information can be attached to documents. Company procedures and processes can be added to any publication. Instant access to collaborative information improves communication and business processes which in turn reduces risk for the company and mechanics. Cloud computing saves time and money and generates a team spirit to every project. In essence, the cloud brings every stakeholder in the operation closer and helps to make communication clearer.

Learn more about Vaughn’s Aviation degrees and programs.

The world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered train rode the rails in Lower Saxony, Germany last month when European railway manufacturer Alstom launched two models of their new commercial trains, Coradia iLint. This latest innovation is a collaboration of cross-border teamwork between France and Germany to provide a climate-friendly alternative to diesel-fueled trains.

Fueled by the elements

The Coradia iLint uses fuel cells that turn hydrogen and oxygen into electricity releasing steam and water instead of large plumes of smoke and carbon dioxide like diesel trains. Fueled at a mobile hydrogen filling station, gaseous hydrogen stored in a 40-foot high steel container is pumped into the train. Alstom reports one tank of hydrogen will provide enough fuel for the train to travel approximately 621 miles. Plans for a stationary filling station is scheduled for operation in 2021 when Alstom plans to deliver an additional 14 Coradia iLint trains with a price tag of just over $93 million.

Going to distance

The two electric trains can travel up to 87 miles per hour and will operate on a 62-mile line carrying passengers between the cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervorde and Buxtehude. Previously, this line was served by diesel trains operated by Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser (EVB.) The Coradia iLint trains replace diesel engines eliminating the need to electrify the entire track with a charged third rail or overhead powerlines, as would be needed for more traditional electric trains to function.

Clean travel

In an ongoing effort to reduce air pollution, Coradia iLint just may be a trailblazer in revolutionizing the rail system with its zero-emissions and low-noise output—making hydrogen a rock star element as an efficient alternative to diesel. As for the passenger experience, it’s one quiet ride.

Electric airplanes may become a reality sooner than we think as Norway launched its inaugural flight of an electric two-seater plane last June.  With some of the busiest flight routes in Europe, Norway is striving to be a pioneer in the electric airplane industry with hopes of launching its first commercial electric-powered aircraft within the next 10 years.

Tesla-inspired

When we hear today’s buzz about electric engines our minds turn to Tesla,  the American multinational corporation that specializes in electric vehicles. Norway is no stranger to Tesla, as the country boasts one of the largest Tesla markets selling around 8,500 cars last year. This comes on the wings of western Europe’s largest oil and gas exporter pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. This dedication to clean living has prompted Norway to use the tourism sales pitch “Powered by Nature” to further their efforts to be a pioneer in the electric plane market.

Electric flight

The two-seater electric plane made by Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel took off from Oslo Airport with none other than the transport minister in the passenger seat. With a flight time of up to one hour, this groundbreaking test-flight may just be the beginning of pollution-free aviation, according to Avinor, a state-owned company that operates Norway’s airports.

Cleaner, quieter skies

Since jet engines run on fuel they not only produce fossil-fuel emissions but noisy skies. Electric engines can be the answer to both of these environmental issues but not without limitations. With cleaner, quieter skies comes the question, “Where does the pilot recharge the plane?” The reality is planes need to land somewhere to refuel, but in the case of electric planes it’s a matter of recharging.

Vaughn’s take

Capt. Pete Russo, PhD, department chair and assistant professor of aviation at Vaughn College weighed in on the future of electric airplanes. “I’m in favor of electric airplanes,” said Russo. “The electronics in today’s planes is already advancing beyond our expectations. The work being done in Norway is demonstrating the capability of what we need to create pollution-free aviation.” Russo said the manufacturing of electric engines weighs heavily on the industry and making the switch to electric would have a major impact on how we approach the future of aviation. “Tesla has revolutionized the electric car industry,” said Russo. “It’s just a matter of time before we see electric planes in our skies.”

Airports getting on board

Airports servicing electric planes will need to get on board with a new flight planning process to accommodate this new wave of aviation.  Here are a few ways airports and aviation personnel will need to adapt:

  • Airports will need to install charging stations
  • Flight times will need to be adjusted since electric planes fly at a slower rate of speed than jet-propelled engines and will need time to recharge
  • Pilots will need to track their charge the same way they monitor their fuel supply.

Charging ahead

Some say it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” that we see electric airplanes in our skies. The possibility of electric-flight covering short distances may be in our future, but skeptics say there’s no indication we may be replacing today’s long-haul flights with electric propulsion.

Every year, the Vaughn Robotics Team participates in the VEX Worlds Robotics Competition. Here, this team competes against other student teams from schools all over the world, where they design and create robots with the goal of completing a themed task. The ultimate purpose of this competition is for all students to exercise their creative, analytical and technical skills to the limit. And with the great advances made in robotic technology on a near-daily basis, there is next to no limit of what can be accomplished.

Giving credit where it is due, Boston Dynamics introduces dog robot “Spot”

Take one nearly futuristic example of combined creativity and technology that was recently unveiled by Boston Dynamics, a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Essentially, “man’s best friend” is taking on a new role here, as its latest robot (named Spot) embarks on literally covering new ground.

The team at Boston Dynamics designed the untethered dog-like robot to assist in search and rescue operations and for being able to access disaster zones. Its sturdy and sure-footed design allows Spot to carry supplies over uneven terrain, while its super-human stability allows it to keep its balance, even when kicked over on its side. Designed as the baby brother to BigDog, the company’s quadrupedal robot, Spot is smaller and lighter and comes equipped with onboard sensors that allow it to recover quickly if it encounters hostile territory or a situation where it might “trip” or  tip over. Weighing in at 160 pounds, Spot is about 80 pounds lighter than his big brother and has BigDog beat when climbing up hills.

Although Spot has a dog’s name, its gait is more like a prancing horse. This electronically-powered robot may not have the same ability to carry the same weight as its big brother, but Spot’s unique dexterity allows it to navigate difficult areas, both indoors and outdoors. And when it comes to “seeing” the environment, Spot was designed with a rotating sensor on its back, rather than on a head-like structure.

This project was made possible with funding by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), whose mission is to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security.

Other “species” of robots

Spot is the newest arrival among the family of incredible animal-like robots from Boston Dynamics. Other cool creations include the WildCat, the world’s fastest free-running quadruped robot on Earth, which can run almost 20 mph while maneuvering and maintaining its balance, and the SandFlea, which drives like a remote-controlled car and can leap almost 33 feet into the air to avoid obstacles.

What does Dr. Rahemi, Vaughn’s chair of engineering and technology, have to say?

In preparation for the VEX Worlds Robotics Competition, the Vaughn Robotics team is aided and guided by Hossein Rahemi, PhD, chair of the Vaughn’s engineering and technology department. Dr. Rahemi has no doubt seen many impressive technological advancements in his day, and he is most enthusiastic about the latest developments from Boston Dynamics. “Today, robotics technology is advancing at a lightning pace, making our lives easier, better and safer than ever before,” he states. “We’re seeing robots going places that are too difficult or dangerous for humans to go, such as war zones deep within the sea and bomb threat areas, just to name a few.”

Vaughn students learn not just technology, but purpose

To keep up with the pace of robotics technology, and its purpose, Rahemi stresses Vaughn College’s commitment to educating its students on the importance of a sense of service to mankind. A top priority is the improvement of our environment to be a better and safer place. “We motivate, engage and provide our students with all the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful in their career path,” Rahemi said. “Together, we can all be responsible individuals in the society we serve.”

If you are studying aviation or engineering in an institution such as Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, you may be hearing the acronym “TFR” around campus, or even in the news. But what does “TFR” stand for? Very simply: “temporary flight restriction.” And recently, these seemingly temporary situations are occurring more frequently.

What is the purpose of a TFR?

A TFR is issued to clear and restrict an area of airspace for security or safety and it is a necessary part of aviation protocol. In fact, there are typically several TFRs in place every day across the National Airspace System (NAS). Some examples of why TFRs might be issued include:

  • The movement of government VIPs such as the president or vice president
  • Special events, including the Super Bowl, political conventions, and other occasions such as the United Nations General Assembly
  • Natural disasters such as wildfires

The trouble resulting from TFRs is how they can wreak havoc on the aviation industry, ultimately making the friendly skies not so friendly.

Vaughn’s perspective

Dr. Maxine Lubner, professor and chair of the management department at Vaughn College, weighs in on the subject of TFRs and their impact. “Now more than ever, airport managers of our country’s smaller airports are facing more frequently occurring challenges due to TFRs,” she states. “We hope to see an improvement in TFR issuance by implementing a combination of revised procedures, technology applications and communication systems. I believe it’s time to revisit how TFRs are issued and used in light of the current impacts they are having on general aviation and the surrounding communities in a way that would both preserve security and business activity.”

Who’s feeling the greatest impact?

Smaller municipal and privately-owned airports are experiencing the greatest impacts―both on their runways and in their wallets―when it comes to VIP TFRs. Recent presidential movement in both New Jersey and Florida have crippled smaller airports surrounding President Trump’s visits, locking down runways and restricting flying within the duration of his stay.

New Jersey-based airports that include Morristown, Solberg and Somerset, and Lantana Airport in Florida, have seen recent significant financial impacts, not to mention restrictions on flights to and from LaGuardia Airport in New York and Palm Beach International Airport in Florida. Temporary flight restrictions create a no-fly zone within a 10-mile radius during the president’s entire stay, while looser regulations restrict air traffic within a 30-mile radius, thus impacting related-aviation businesses. Some of these affected businesses include:

  • Flight training schools
  • Aircraft parking and rentals
  • Sky diving charters
  • Balloon flights
  • Fuel sales
  • Maintenance

The loss of revenue is staggering. While some airports are reporting financial losses in the tens of thousands, some have stated their losses are upward of $800,000.

Relieving the financial strain

Although TFRs are here to stay, the question remains: What steps can be taken to relieve the financial strain of TFRs on smaller airports? The answer may not be an easy one, but state representatives and the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) are working on a solution.

To stay up-to-date on this and other related topics, visit the Industry News section on the Vaughn College website.

“I know it sounds cliché, but I want to build robots and I want to be making prosthetic limbs and braces that would help athletes to continue to move right after surgery.” – Maia Rivers, Class of 2018

Helping people and changing the world is anything but cliché. As the field of engineering continues to advance, Vaughn College is committed to staying ahead of the curve with the latest in cutting-edge innovation and engineering technology. Its 3D prototyping innovation center―within the department of engineering and technology―is equipped with 3D printers and scanners to give students the opportunity of putting their classroom knowledge into action. Providing such an innovative atmosphere is paramount to creating pioneers in the industry who can go on to do great things and change the world we live in for the better.

Prosthetic ‘Fin’ Made From 3D Printers Making a Splash with Amputees

Groundbreaking advancements using 3D printers are making a big splash in the world of prosthetics, as developers have created a revolutionary underwater prosthetic leg called “the Fin,” which gives amputees a second chance at swimming, according to CNN.

Diving into the need

Todd Goldstein, Director of Northwell Ventures 3D Printing Laboratory in Manhasset, New York, designed and fabricated “the Fin” with the use of a 3D printer to meet the needs of active amputees who needed an easier way to navigate in the water and maximize their propulsion while they swim.

Putting “the Fin” to the test

The latest engineering advancements that utilize 3D printing make this innovative swim leg easy to use for lower leg amputees. They attach it to their own prosthetic, which allows them to easily get in and out of the water without changing prosthetics. And it is designed with multiple holes that allows water to flow through the V-shaped fin as the swimmer kicks, giving them maximum propulsion.

Embracing Wounded Warriors

After losing his leg in Afghanistan 14 years ago, retired Marine Corporal Dan Lasko was selected by Northwell Health to test this state-of-the-art swimming leg. His passion as a triathlete, as well as having two sons who love the water, made Lasko the perfect candidate for the job.

Lasko said he’s been in contact with some of his fellow wounded warriors who are also interested in the device. The Department of Veteran Affairs states 2.6 percent of war veterans return home missing a limb. And according to the Amputee Coalition of America, at least 185,000 lower leg amputations are performed every year, which means there are approximately two million amputees in the United States.

With such staggering numbers, innovative prosthetic devices like “the Fin” are making a difference in quality of life by helping get amputees back in the water.

Vaughn College offers students a unique opportunity to turn their dreams into a reality and create incredible innovations of their own. Learn more about the College’s wide range of engineering and engineering technology degrees and see how a degree from Vaughn can prepare you for an exciting career in this expanding field.

 

The “friendly skies” may become eco-friendlier. Researchers at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio are working toward reducing the nation’s total use of fossil fuels. Your likely question: “How?” The answer: By developing alternative aircraft designs with the use of electric-powered low-carbon propulsion technology.

A new frontier

More than 42,000 flights and 2.5 million airline passengers are in the air every day, with 5,000 aircraft in the sky at any given time. And with air traffic passenger demand projected to surge even higher in 2018, the skies will be busier than ever. From the beginning of flight travel, carbon-based fuels have been powering commercial airlines, leaving a trail of fossil fuel emissions behind them. But this heavy carbon footprint situation may be changing.

Researchers from Glenn are setting the stage for planes that will require using less fossil fuels in the future. Aeronautical engineers are taking a closer look at how airplanes can be revamped to use electric power that would provide the plane’s thrust and power for flight, while simultaneously reducing the plane’s energy consumption, emissions and noise level. Like hybrid or turboelectric power that is used in cars, boats and trains, NASA hopes to guide the aircraft industry into using hybrid electric and turboelectric propulsion, as opposed to relying solely on gas turbines.

However, these alternative aircraft designs wouldn’t be “flying solo” on electricity just yet. The alternative system would combine electric motors and generators with turbine engines.

A cleaner future

Low-carbon propulsion technology can make each flight up to 30 percent more fuel efficient and require lower operational costs, which is good news for airlines that have been hit hard with high jet fuel prices. Although the day that we see an electric-powered airplane may be years away, the idea of it is literally fueling excitement for a cleaner future.

Interesting in learning more about Vaughn’s programs? Take a look here to see everything we have to offer.

Scientists and robotics experts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California are developing an origami-inspired robot named PUFFER to explore areas in space that are too risky for full-fledged rovers. Its design is described as a lightweight, pop-up folding explorer that can flatten itself and tuck in its wheels, allowing maneuverability into places that rovers can’t go. Just like the origami art of paper folding, PUFFER’s design allows these microbots to be flattened like cards and stacked one on top of the other.

Incredible Features

PUFFER was put to the test during the past year-and-a-half in areas that ranged from the rugged terrain of the Mojave Desert in California to the snowy hills in Antarctica in the hopes that it will someday make it to the sands of the planet Mars. It’s designed to move up 45-degree slopes and investigate overhangs as a companion to larger robots. It can even drop into pits or craters, go behind sand dunes, and explore steep slopes―taking exploration to hard-to-reach locations.

“They can do parallel science with a rover, so you can increase the amount you’re doing in a day,” said Jaakko Karras, the project manager at JPL. It was Karras who was experimenting with origami designs while he was in grad school at UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab. He came up with the robot’s body design as he worked on developing robotics that were based on natural forms ch as the movements of animals and insects.

How PUFFER Was Made

It took a collaborative effort to get the robot to where it is today. Robotics experts and scientists at JPL worked together to create the microbot, and partnered with outside experts to fine-tune specific movements and abilities. The four wheels were created on a 3D printer, and gained treads that allow the robot to climb inclines. The origami design allows the wheels to fold over the main body, giving PUFFER the ability to crawl. Biomimetic Millisystems Lab developed a “skittering walk” that ensures the bot inches forward, one wheel at a time, without slipping. Distant Focus Corporation lent sight to the project, providing a high-resolution micro-imager which can see objects that are a fraction of the diameter of human hair.

Onboard Instruments

Solar panels on PUFFER’s belly keep the microbot on the move and allow it to flip over to recharge in the sun. It can move about 2,050 feet (625 meters) on one battery charge driving on a level dirt path. Depending on the number of onboard instruments, that distance may fluctuate. Currently, it operates via Bluetooth and can be controlled remotely. Advances in robotics and engineering have enabled it to act as a scientist in its own right with the addition of an instrument that allows it to sample water for organic material. The team says a spectrometer could also be added to give it the ability to study the chemical makeup of its environment.

The Future

PUFFER’s future is looking bigger and brighter as the JPL team envisions future designs to be as large as a breadbox and possibly autonomic―allowing more than one microbot to conduct science as a mobile team.

What may have once been thought of as science fiction may soon become science fact. The JPL team is hopeful their robot may someday be partnering on future planetary missions, as its composition includes several Mars-compatible materials, including heritage technology from the Viking, Pathfinder and Phoenix missions. “Small robotic explorers like PUFFER could change the way we do science on Mars,” said Karras.

Don’t miss the change to learn more about Vaughn’s engineering, technology, management and aviation programs at our Open House on Saturday, November 11 and 18. Space is limited – reserve your spot today!

The PUFFER project is a Game Changing Development (GCD) program. The project is managed by JPL. The GCD program investigates ideas and approaches that could solve significant technological problems and revolutionize future space endeavors. GCD is part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

Move over, first class. Air travel as we know it may be taking a back seat to modular airplanes, offering passengers a “cruise ship-like” experience with the comforts of home.

Let’s face it. Commercial flying leaves much to be desired: crammed seating with limited legroom, few dining options, and basically nowhere else to go. All of this may be changing, and it could happen sooner than we think.

Is this the future of air travel?

Last December, innovators at Airbus revealed Transpose, a futuristic modular cabin concept that was in the works at their Silicon Valley labs. This full-sized Airbus A330 prototype takes the concept from cargo planes and applies it to passenger planes.

Here is how it would work:

Just as palettes of cargo are loaded onto cargo planes, Transpose engineers have designed a way to load pre-built modules onto commercial planes―each with specific “experiences.” Imagine being able to roam freely about the cabin and stop off at a coffee shop or work off a few calories at a cycling studio?

Check out this video to see the inner workings of a modular plane.

How soon will they fly?

As exciting as all this sounds, you won’t be booking a ticket any time soon. The Transpose engineering team is still facing some design challenges, not to mention getting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Transpose has already engaged in conversations with the FAA and hopes to have its aircraft flying “within a few years.” This estimate, however, may be premature, considering the strict rules and regulations of the FAA. The FAA has not officially commented on the project but did state―depending on the complexity of the project and the experience of the manufacturer―the certification process can take anywhere from less than one year to more than five years.

How much will a ticket cost?

Cost also comes into play, as today’s avid air travelers are already paying a premium for extra legroom and the niceties of first class. Transpose engineers predict modular cabin seats would be priced at the premium economy level, but this prediction depends upon whether the seating density remains the same as a standard aircraft. Ultimately, the airlines will have the final say in determining the price of a ticket.

In an everchanging world of technology, Airbus has a proven track record backed with years of experience building airplanes. Transpose is just another example of how innovation and engineering can one day make flying the friendly skies even friendlier.

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