REU: Unmanned Systems Foundations and Applications

Developing tomorrow’s unmanned systems

For information contact

Dr. Sebastian Elbaum

One of the NIMBUS Lab’s Systems performing atmospheric profiling tests during the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.
One of the NIMBUS Lab’s Systems performing atmospheric profiling tests during the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.

Application Dates

Nov 15 2017 App opens
February 1 Priority deadline
March 1 App closes
April 1 Decisions complete

Program Dates

June 3 2018 Arrival day
June 4 Program begins
August 7 Program ends
August 8 Departure day

Who should apply

Related fields

  • Computer Science and Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Robotics
  • Software and System Analysis


Participation in the Nebraska Summer Research Program is limited to students who meet the following criteria:
  • U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Current undergraduate with at least one semester of coursework remaining before obtaining a bachelor's degree

See Eligibility for more information.

How to apply

Follow the application steps to submit the following materials.

About the Program

Unmanned Systems has developed into an integral part of the modern world; drones and telepresence robots are now commonplace, and are revolutionizing more applications and scientific disciplines than ever.


The Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems lab is a leading pioneer of these microUAS systems technologies. At this ten-week REU site, students will get to perform multidisciplinary research with our research teams to develop the next generation of Unmanned Systems technology. Students will have the opportunity to perform hands-on research, solve real-world problems involving unmanned systems, and develop their skills and their careers as researchers. 

Members of the NIMBUS Lab posing in the Flying Cage where we test and evolve our systems.
Members of the NIMBUS Lab posing in the Flying Cage where we test and evolve our systems.


  • Competitive stipend: $5,000
  • Suite-style room and meal plan
  • Travel expenses to and from Lincoln
  • Campus parking and/or bus pass
  • Full access to the Campus Recreation Center and campus library system
  • Wireless internet access

Learn more about academic and financial benefits.


  • Department seminars and presentations
  • Professional development workshops (e.g., applying to graduate school, taking the GRE)
  • Welcome picnic
  • Day trip to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
  • Canoe and camping trip
  • Research symposium

Mentors and Projects

Dr. Justin Bradley Computer Science and Engineering

Cyber-Physical Attitude Control to Improve CubeSats Performance

Low Earth Orbit is a challenging environment in which increasing numbers of nanosatellites with commercial off-the-shelf components operate. Challenges such as communication, data collection, energy collection, and attitude control must come together with precise timing, usually utilizing inexpensive and imprecise hardware to accomplish mission objectives. Current attitude control strategies, while robust, consume resources even during more quiescent portions of the orbital period. REU students on the project will investigate the application of state-of-the-art control strategies to attitude control for CubeSats that will more effectively allocate resources dynamically in response to environmental, physical, and cyber performance.

Dr. Carrick Detweiler Computer Science and Engineering

Development and Characterization of Atmospheric Profiling UAVs

Current weather monitoring relies on radars, weather balloons, and airplanes that primarily measure the atmosphere above one thousand meters above ground level, and ground based weather stations that measure the atmosphere between ground level up to about fifty meters. REU students will have the opportunity to investigate this gap in the lower thousand meters of the atmosphere, providing an understanding that is critical to better predict severe weather development and where small UAVs have significant potential to aid.

Dr. Brittany Duncan Computer Science and Engineering

Interactions with Telepresence Systems in Complex Environments with and without Explicit Purpose

Much of the research on human-robot interactions occurs in simulated environments or private settings conditions that may make the results difficult to generalize. Through this REU project, we will study human attitudes toward unmanned system in a public space to assist designers with decisions on how to build systems and to aid public space administrators with decisions on how and when to deploy unmanned systems that will be beneficial to patrons. 

Dr. Sebastian Elbaum Computer Science and Engineering

Aerial Assisted Management of Assets During Wildfires

Managing wildfires requires a variety of personnel and equipment to operate under dangerous and intense conditions. Keeping track of where personnel and equipment are located with respect to the fire is useful to optimize their utilization and safety. UASs are currently employed to assist in fire monitoring and our lab has pioneered their us in fire ignition, but they are not leveraged to track the location of assets and share them with the fire managers. REU students on the project will investigate devices that can be attached to field assets so that they can be monitored from the UAS, and the analysis of camera footage from the UAS to triangulate that information.