Michael D. Yoho
During the summer and the first few weeks of this semester, Mike worked as a GRA for Dr. Sheldon Landsberger in Nuclear Engineering. During this time he worked on a team to design, construct, and automate a system for transporting nuclear material. The system works and is being used currently to collect data. The ultimate goal of the system is to aid forensics research in developing a better detector to prevent the smuggling of nuclear material into the United States. Mr. Yoho is currently part of a new multi-disciplinary research group headed by Dr. Eric Van Oort in Petroleum Engineering. The ultimate goal of this research group is to automate the drilling process. This year, his research is focused in sensor validation. When drilling, there are dozens of sensors measuring things such as pressure, temperature, and weight. Due to the dynamic and extreme conditions thousands of feet below the surface, these sensors frequently break. The first step towards automation is to be able to determine, say, if an impending blowout is going to occur or if it is just a sensor fault. He is currently attempting to publish a paper in the next month, which presents a new algorithm to validate these sensors.
His future work as part of this research group will revolve around decision analysis pertaining to drilling automation. Currently, Mike and his cohorts are looking towards BP as sponsor for his work in years to come, and his work would be directed towards eliminating the risk of a blowout occurring, such as happened at Macondo.
As a student in Operations Research, he is currently interested in stochastic optimization. That is, optimizing processes in the face of uncertainty. He has many interests, and he hopes to apply his skill-set to a wide range of problems, including but not limited to military, nuclear power, petroleum engineering, and alternate energy applications.
He does not have any immediate plans for this, but would like to apply operations research to improving the route selection of convoy operations in combat zones. Most of his time in Iraq was spent in convoy security operations throughout the country, including Baghdad. For instance if a group has to get from the BIOP airbase to the Green Zone. There are many different routes to take, all with a different set of threats. From his point of view, there did not seem to be any general method to selecting the best route, and it frequently fell on me, a low level enlisted man, to make this decision. Sometime in the future, Mike would like to develop a better method to achieve this task.
Without the Powers Fellowship, he feels he would not have been able to conduct his work in Nuclear Forensics over the summer, and he would not have been able to start research so quickly. Mike is truly appreciative of the opportunity he has been given.