Eye to the Sky

Eric Guyes is a young man who has his feet on the ground and his eyes on the sky

by Patsy Wieler

A fifth-year senior, the Virginia native has targeted a future in aeronautics research and maybe teaching. Meanwhile, as an undergraduate, Guyes has been seizing as many learning opportunities as possible, including undertaking two research projects as well as working as a physics professor’s research assistant in 2011.

“I have been fascinated with aerospace my entire
life,” he says.

Guyes wrote his Honors thesis about developing a functioning motion analysis program in MATLAB (Matrix Laboratory), a high-level technical computing language. Future students will utilize sense-and-avoid technology, which is used in unmanned vehicles to automatically maneuver them safely.

“The ultimate goal is to create a program that can be implemented in autonomous air- and ground-based vehicles to prevent them from colliding with obstacles,” Guyes says. “This project allows me to simultaneously explore my interests in aerospace and physics.”

Guyes, a licensed pilot (who likes to run with his friends and is interested in nutrition and martial arts), enjoyed working with his thesis advisor, physics professor Eric Klumpe, who “was a great motivator.” Both share an interest in aerospace, and Klumpe has previous computer programming and modeling experience.

The recipient of a Buchanan Fellowship—the highest academic award offered by MTSU and the University Honors College—Guyes also received a $2,500 URECA grant. URECA (Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity) is an interdisciplinary, campus-wide initiative that provides financial support to encourage students to get involved in research and creative projects.

Guyes used his grant to develop a laboratory module designed to give aerospace technology students practical and theoretical understanding of the physics employed in jet engines.

“The entire creative process has been enormously rewarding,” says Guyes.

Working closely with assistant professor Nate Callender in the Aerospace Department,
Guyes says the “developmental cost of an in-house model will be a fraction of a commercially produced unit’s price while satisfactorily educating students
about gas turbine theory.”

Guyes, who was also a physics tutor, says the teaching module will consist of a small operational gas turbine engine and a laboratory procedure.

The procedure will show students how to operate the engine, how to obtain data, and how to perform data analysis to determine results.

“Since the laboratory module will be under [Callender’s] direction once it is completed, he will have significant influence on the project’s development,” Guyes adds.

Following graduation, Guyes hopes his hard work will help him soar toward achieving his next educational goal.

Helped by Laura Clippard, who coordinates undergraduate fellowships in the Honors College, Guyes has applied for a prestigious Fulbright Scholar award. He will learn in spring 2013 if he was selected for a Fulbright grant.