ISU Aero Alumna Ellen Klingbeil Working on PhD at Stanford

The ISU grad has earned a Stanford MS in aero and astro and then went on to pass the very tough round of qualifier exams to gain entrance to the PhD program.  She has branched out from her first research involvement with robotics to a deeper study of robot perception and actuation. Her current research is being performed in the Computer Science department at Stanford.

Iowa State grad Ellen Klingbeil (aero 2004) is   continuing her graduate work towards a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.  Ellen completed her senior project at Iowa State with Prof Dale Chimenti, who was recently able to visit and interview her at Stanford University.  Ellen left Iowa State with a BS in aerospace engineering in December 2004 and a freshly won National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.  She worked for several months at Boeing Satellite Systems in Huntington Beach, CA before beginning her graduate work at Stanford.
Ellen has co-authored and published several papers on robot perception, including a paper on teaching a robot to open doors with handles the robot has not seen before and to operate similarly unknown elevator buttons.  This year Ellen presented her latest research at the ICRA meeting in Alaska and is flying this month (Oct 2010) to Taiwan to present at another international meeting on robotics.  She is making excellent progress, but wants to finish several pending research assignments before completing her degree. When asked about the future, Ellen demurs on the subject of remaining in academics as a professor and instead voices interest in Silicon Valley startups, such as the one that manufactures the robot she works with now.

While at Iowa State, Ellen was involved with many campus and volunteer activities.  While she misses the opportunity to have such extensive involvements as before, her outside interests have hardly dropped to zero, even with the demanding schedule of a Stanford grad student.  In the past couple years Ellen has studied and taken flight lessons, earning her private pilot’s license in a single-engine aircraft.  She would like to continue to obtain an instrument rating and perhaps a multi-engine license, but the cost is a factor on a grad student stipend.  Perhaps someday soon, she will be able to pick up her interest in aviation again.