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Meet the Desert RATS 2011 Interns
Tim Godisart

Tim Godisart

Tim Godisart is a senior at West Virginia University and pursing a dual-degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. While at school Tim works as a Residential Assistant at Arnold Hall and Systems Administrator for the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. In his spare time Tim also enjoys watching and playing ice hockey. His future plans include pursuing a doctorate in robotics.

Tim's NASA career started by being part of the WVU Lunabotics team that placed 3rd this May in the 2nd annual mining competition. Tim is now working as an intern at the Johnson Space Center. He is very excited for this opportunity and is enjoying working with the other members of the Desert RATS analog.

Ben Gunvalson

Ben Gunvalson

My name is Ben Gunvalson and I recently graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in mechanical engineering. I grew up working on a farm in northern Minnesota, where I gained experience working with machinery and farm equipment. This, along with a lifelong interest in science and technology, spurred my interest in working with mechanical systems. I previously worked as a research assistant for the University of North Dakota Unmanned Aircraft Systems Engineering (UND UASE) where I worked with the design and testing of research payloads used unmanned aircraft applications.

Most recently, I participated in the 2011 NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition. In the competition, my team representing the University of North Dakota placed second in the onsite mining category and received the Joe Kosmo Award of Excellence. As a team member, I was responsible for the kinematic design and actuation of our "lunabot". I also worked with local schools to promote science and engineering with our lunabot to spark interest in our nation's future innovators. This was a very interesting and rewarding project to be a part of, and was a stepping stone to my work here at NASA.

I currently support the Kennedy Space Center's Communications Team as an engineering intern where I work with logistics and equipment integration for use in Desert RATS. Outside of my professional life, I enjoy being outdoors hunting, fishing and hiking. I am also a huge sports fan. I love to play or watch most any sport there is, especially football and rugby.

Justin Headley

Justin Headley

Justin Headley is a graduate student at the University of Alabama studying for a master's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus on robotics. He is currently working with Desert RATS at Johnson Space Center helping to develop mission operations procedures.

Justin has been interested in engineering, technology, and space for as long as he can remember. When he was young he enjoyed designing and constructing things using LEGOs and K'NEX pieces. These interests led him to study engineering in college where he worked on projects ranging from image recognition software to a trash collecting and sorting robot for the IEEE SoutheastCon 2009 competition.

In the summer of 2009 he attended the NASA Robotics Academy at MSFC. This amazing experience jump started his NASA career. Since then he has led two UA teams in the NASA Lunabotics Competition and was awarded a 2010 Alabama Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship to work on his thesis titled "Applications of Modular Robotic Systems to In Situ Resource Utilization". Justin hopes to one day design a modular robot capable of self replication using materials available on the moon. He is excited about being a part of Desert RATS and getting a close look at some of NASA's future technologies.

Josh Rodgers

Joshua Rodgers

I am a senior Electrical Engineering student at the University of North Dakota. I will graduate in December 2011 with a BSEE and a minor in mathematics. I was the electrical engineering lead on our universities robot design team for the NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition at Kennedy Space Center, at which we won the Joe Kosmo Award of Excellence. I am currently in the US Navy as a nuclear propulsion officer candidate, and after several months of school and training, I will be serving aboard a submarine as a nuclear officer a. I have been married for seven years, and my wife, Joanna, and I have two wonderful children, Ronan (2 12) and Niamh (15 mos.).

Brent Wilburn

Brenton Wilburn

My name is Brenton Wilburn. I am currently pursuing a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University in the area of automatic controls with an emphasis on adaptive control and fault tolerance. For my dissertation, I am working on adaptive trajectory tracking algorithms for aircraft.

I received my master's in mechanical engineering in December 2010 for the development of an autonomous mobile rover platform. As an undergraduate mechanical engineering student, I worked as a teaching assistant for my school's Mechatronics course.

I became interested in NASA and space related research through the Lunabotics Mining Competion in which my school's team finished second in the overall competition. During this project, I worked as one of the primary designers and fabricators of the robot's mechanical systems. Professionally, I enjoy working with robotics, automatic controls, computer programming, and CAD. In my free time I enjoy playing tennis and working on homebrew robotics and programming projects.

Jen Davis

Jennifer Nicole (Davis) Wilburn

I am a Ph.D. graduate student at West Virginia University studying Aerospace Engineering. My interests include robotics, artificial intelligence, and fault tolerant controls. My research is currently focused upon the development of trajectory planning algorithms for unmanned aerial vehicles augmented with artificial intelligence schemes to improve robustness and flexibility. In addition, I integrated a Kohonen Self-Organizing Map with a Back-Propagation Neural Network in order to detect and identify a number of aircraft failures. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering from West Virginia University in May 2008. While an undergraduate, I worked as a lead Teaching Assistant in the Mechatronics Laboratory for over 2.5 years. This is where I first became truly interested in robotics.

Additionally, I completed my Master of Science degree at West Virginia University in August 2010. My research involved the implementation and development of a genetic algorithm for the generation and optimization of artificial-immune-system-based aircraft fault detectors.