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Researcher brings CAREER Award research to department

Portrait photo of Ming Xin.

Ming Xin is a new associate professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. Part of the work he brings with him from his former appointment at Mississippi State University includes National Science Foundation CAREER Award research on cooperative control of multiple vehicles.

Like many of the students he will advise, Ming Xin, a new associate professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, found his passion for engineering through his family.

“My father is an aerospace engineer for a company in China, so I’ve loved aerospace since my childhood,” Xin said.

Originally from Xi’an, in China’s Shaanxi province, Xin earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1993 and 1996, respectively. He then moved to the U.S. to pursue a doctorate at the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology), which he received in 2002.

Xin took a faculty position at the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University, eventually becoming an associate professor. While there, he concentrated his research on the guidance and control of aerospace vehicles. The move to Columbia was not just a career decision. Xin’s family also played a role in his choice.

“We wanted to move to a bigger town, and there are very good educational opportunities for my daughter in Columbia,” he said.

In 2009, Xin was a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER Award, which he’s using to research cooperative control of multiple vehicles, such as space clusters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

“We’re looking at how those vehicles operate as a group and increasing their autonomy,” he said.

He will wrap up that funded research project next summer. In the meantime, Xin also has earned a second NSF grant, which he will use to study space situational awareness.

“We track the motion of space debris and space objects to develop a tracking system for space safety,” Xin said. “It’s a project that we’re just getting started.”

He and his wife, Yakun Liu, have a 13-year-old daughter, Tracey. Outside of his research, Xin said he enjoys playing basketball and watching NBA games and music, a hobby he shares with his family.