UAH AUVSI Pathfinder Student Club makes first trip to national conference

The UAH AUVSI Pathfinder Student Club connects students to the 7,500-member AUVSI, the world's largest organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community.
Michael Mercier | UAH

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Pathfinder Student Club members at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) are attending AUVSI's XPONENTIAL 2016 conference in New Orleans, marking two singular events.

The trip is the first for the fledgling UAH club, which has 15 members in New Orleans May 2-5, and UAH is the only university with a club attending the conference.

With over 7,500 members, AUVSI is the world's largest organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community.

"The AUVSI National Headquarters is offering free admission, lodging and meals to the students attending the conference in New Orleans in exchange for 20 hours of service to the meeting," says Dr. Virginia "Suzy" Young, director of UAH's Office of Proposal Development and a national AUVSI board member who in 2015 led AUVSI's effort to establish pilot student clubs at six universities.

David Arterburn, director of the Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center (RSESC), is a faculty/staff advisor for UAH's club effort. Tim Finnegan is the president of the UAH club and the club began with Matt Calahan as president. Calahan has recently stepped down, since he is graduating from UAH.

"At XPONENTIAL 2016, club members will be exposed to over 650 different companies that represent every single facet of the unmanned systems industry. I believe that this represents a significant opportunity from both a professional and academic standpoint," Finnegan says. "The students attending will be able to connect with companies that interest them and learn more about the revolutionary technologies being developed for unmanned systems.

Personally, I am excited to see the latest research unveiled," Finnegan says. "As a passionate advocate for innovation in unmanned systems, I am interested in learning about new paradigms that will push the industry forward."

"The UAH AUVSI Pathfinder Student Chapter has done a great job taking advantage of this opportunity to network and learn from people in government, industry and academia who are attending the annual AUVSI conference," Arterburn says. "This is a great learning experience that cannot be taught in the classroom and provides a broad understanding of what can be achieved in the unmanned world, from components to platforms and system level performance and capabilities."

Student AUVSI club members have scholarship opportunities; increase their visibility to the unmanned systems community; are eligible for sponsorship of projects: interact with industry and government in the area; can attend conferences and symposiums; get help with career planning and resumes; have co-op, internship and job postings opportunities; and have opportunities to present their work by speaking at meetings and conferences or at poster sessions, among other membership benefits.

"UAH looks forward to continuing this relationship with AUVSI and the local AUVSI Pathfinder Chapter to explore new designs, competitions and become an outreach entity for local schools trying to venture into the world of robotics and unmanned systems," Arterburn says.