New aerospace engineering faculty launches multidisciplinary trajectory


By Gabrielle Stewart

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In the words of late computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra, “A picture may be worth a thousand words; a formula is worth a thousand pictures.” Roshan Eapen, a new faculty member in the Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering, describes his research as such, aiming to leverage the geometry of complex phenomena to create mathematical frameworks. Eapen joined the University as an assistant professor in August.

In his work, Eapen seeks to combine these formulae explaining the physical world — known as dynamical systems — with other research focuses. He is interested in the effects of gravity and other forces on rockets and other devices supporting space travel and communication. His development goals include low-energy space transport systems for exploring within the moon’s orbit and beyond, as well as operational frameworks for extant or planned ground- and space-based telescopes.

With another research interest in enabling computers to recognize and describe the physical attributes of objects depicted in images, Eapen hopes to improve a variety of applications from autonomous navigation and spacecraft proximity operations to space environment simulations, he said.

“My goal at Penn State is to appreciate the elegance of physical phenomena by instituting new mathematics and methods to understand and use them. I hope to apply the resulting techniques to harness the intellectual potential of my students and advance the preparedness of the next-generation workforce,” Eapen said. “Penn State truly offers a sense of belonging and encourages out-of-this-world ideas, and this collaborative spirit is a sure-shot recipe for professional growth and success.”

Before coming to Penn State, Eapen earned his doctorate in aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering at Texas A&M University, where he completed research work in multi-body dynamical systems and computational vision.


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