The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) has named Richard Alaimo of UNC Charlotte as the winner of the 2019 Graduate Research Award for his work in optimizing spacecraft layout design for future missions to Mars. A graduate of the Lee College of Engineering’s Systems Engineering bachelor’s degree program, Alaimo is now working on his Ph.D. in Infrastructure and Environmental Systems at UNC Charlotte. His doctoral advisor is Dr. Chrulzu Lim of the Systems Engineering and Engineering Management Department.
IISE is an international, nonprofit professional society that provides leadership for the application, education, training, research and development of industrial and systems engineering. The IISE Graduate Research Award promotes excellence in research and presentation for students who have completed their theses. IISE presented the 2019 award to Alaimo at its Annual Conference and Expo held in Orlando, FL, from May 18-21.
Alaimo’s winning research thesis, “Overlap Packing Optimization for Spacecraft Layout Design,” was conducted in collaboration with NASA as part of a spacecraft optimization layout project funded by the Human Research Program grant. The goal of the research is to develop a layout design mechanism to optimally place human-task volumes in a spacecraft designed for prolonged space missions.
To minimize total volume while accounting for adjacency requirements of mission tasks, Alaimo proposed the use of mixed-integer computational programming models to develop layout solutions. Because of the computational complexity of the problem, he developed ways to make the model more efficient, which resulted in it successfully finding optimal solutions more quickly.
“As a result of studying systems engineering at UNC Charlotte,” Alaimo said, “I developed a passion for optimization and now realize its importance in many aspects of life. Whether it’s used to optimize the transportation of nuclear waste or the layout design of a spacecraft, the application of systems engineering is limitless.”