The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes Al Wicks, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, for his work in the area of autonomous technology, including vehicles and digital signal processing.
His research interests include experimental modal analysis, laser-based transducers and instrumentation, and golf club dynamics.
He is the faculty advisor for the Mechatronics Lab, housed in the College of Engineering, which focuses on creating practical engineering solutions by integrating sensors and microcontrollers into military and medical applications.
The more than 40 graduate and undergraduate students at the Mechatronics Lab work on projects in two main areas: Applied autonomy, which deals with the use of robotics in the real world to accomplish important or dangerous tasks that a human cannot or should not do, and the Pediatric Medical Device Institute, which focuses on the research and development of novel sensors and techniques for pediatrics.
Wicks was one of the organizers of the second annual Additive Vehicle Design Competition at Virginia Tech in 2015, an obstacle course challenge in which 12 student teams competed by remotely driving and flying vehicles that they designed, 3-D printed, and built.
He was also a faculty advisor to the team that developed the Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS), an autonomous mule-like vehicle that was designed to carry the equipment that Marines or soldiers usually have to haul on their backs. Virginia Tech partnered with TORC Technologies and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division on the GUSS project.
Wicks received his bachelor’s degree from Clarkson University, his master’s from the Rochester Institute of Technology, ad his Ph.D. from Michigan Tech.