Ella M. Atkins
Associate Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Address: University of Michigan, 3009 FXB Building, 1320 Beal Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Phone: (734) 615-7456, FAX: (734) 763-0578, E-mail: ematkins@umich.edu

Ph.D., University of Michigan, Computer Science and Engineering, 1999
M.S., University of Michigan, Computer Science and Engineering, 1995
S.M., (a reverse notation for M.S.), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1990
S.B., (uniquely a B.S. degree), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1988

Experience (excluding the student experience):
Consultant, Institute for Defense Analysis, 2005-present
Assistant Professor (granted tenure Spring 2006), University of Maryland, College Park, Aerospace Engineering Dept., 1999-2006
Project Engineer, Structural Dynamics Research Corporation (SDRC), now ATA Engineering, San Diego, 1990-1993
Engineering Intern, Structural Dynamics Department, The Aerospace Corporation, Los Angeles, 1986-1987

Aerospace Engineering Course Instruction

University of Michigan: University of Maryland (1999-2006):

Ongoing Research Projects

Sponsored University of Michigan Student Groups

Current Graduate Students

Former Students/Staff

Ph.D. Research

Title: Plan Generation and Real-time Execution with Application to Safe, Autonomous Flight, (PDF Version)
Institution: University of Michigan, EECS Department, CSE Division
Co-Advisors (two are better than one, I always say):
My dissertation research studied the integration of AI planning and real-time scheduling algorithms in the context of CIRCA (the Cooperative Intelligent Real-time Control Architecture). CIRCA, shown in the adjoining figure, combines a traditional state-space AI planner with a real-time scheduler and plan execution module to build and schedule plans that execute in guaranteed (hard) real-time. First, to handle imprecise knowledge and incomplete plans, we incorporated a "safety net" that is able to detect and react to states that were not explicitly considered by the state-space planner. Next, we developed a negotiation strategy that allows stochastic planning and real-time resource allocation agents to iteratively make tradeoffs that ultimately minimize the likelihood of catastropic system failure given a hard real-time environment and limited computational resources.





Invited Presentations

Last but not least, I include my diverse thesis pair:

Biographical and Personal Information

Ella Atkins began her higher-education life as a nerd at MIT (1984-1990), where she built a a multi-processor control system for a free-flying neutral buoyancy simulation robotic vehicle. During her brief foray into industry, she worked as a structural dynamics test and analysis engineer at the Structural Dynamics Research Corporation (SDRC) in San Diego, California (1990 - 1993). Her job required her to hit curious structures with large hammers and analyze their modes (not moods) accordingly. Sometimes the hammers were small, as for a Callaway Big Bertha golf club head. Sometimes the hammers were massive, as for an OSC Taurus launch vehicle and an MD-92, a DC-9 descendant. During this frolic in San Diego, she became a private pilot (good weather, eh?) and acquired a wonderful spousal unit named Deano who appears to prefer submerged and airborne travel to the usual surface routes. On a whim and a significant loss of income, both she and Deano returned to grad school, studying computer science (AI) and astronomy, respectively, at the University of Michigan (1993-1999). Both have finally graduated, and Ella has at long last tamed that elusive beast known as "tenure". In her free time (as if there is any), she enjoys flying, scuba diving, classical piano, auto repair/maintenance, and playing with Lucas (now 8) and his twin brothers (now 4), who together are plotting to take over the world...

Last Updated: Ella M. Atkins (ematkins@umich.edu), 4/2007