Phillips rewarded for knot tying
May 15, 2002 -- While many adults have tackled the challenge of teaching a child to tie knots, Jeff Phillips, junior, has successfully taught a computer this task. Phillips, a mathematics and computer science major, has received the 2002 Waters Award, and the NASA/Texas Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Scholarship for his knot tying project.
Phillips began conducting research with Associate Professor Lydia Kavraki and the Physical and Biological Computing Group after his freshman year. After two years of extensive interaction with Kavraki and graduate student Andrew Ladd, Phillips produced a paper, "Simulated Knot Tying". He presented the paper, co-authored by Ladd, at the 2002 IEEE International Conference in Robotics and Automation on May 13, 2002 in Washington D.C.
"Jeff's software will tie knots tightly in simulation," explained Kavraki. "His contributions are important in graphics animation, and also in building virtual environments for training surgeons for suturing applications."
This summer, Phillips is working for The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc. He is using a probabalistic road map approach to find a low energy path for a space shuttle simulation.
The Waters Award recognizes an undergraduate engineering student who demonstrates outstanding creativity in independent work. An anonymous donor endowed the Waters Creativity Award in 1968 to honor James S. Waters. Waters devoted nearly 50 years to Rice University, beginning with his life as an undergraduate and culminating to a 30-year term as chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering.
Phillips also received the NASA/Texas Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Scholarship in recognition of his research, its relevance to space applications, and his outstanding scholastic achievements at Rice. The scholarship was established for junior and senior-level students interested in space-related education and research. It recognizes high-quality students and encourages their consideration of graduate studies.