Yeti at Pole marker_cropEngineering alumna Laura Ray, now a professor of mechanical engineering at Dartmouth, and her students helped create Yeti, a robot that is making Arctic and Antarctic exploration safer and more effective.

Yeti uses ground-penetrating radar to map crevasses, the deadly gaps hidden in ice fields that have been the bane of explorers since people first ventured into frozen lands. In a news release, the National Science Foundation, which funded Ray’s work, noted that Yeti “opens the door to making polar travel safer for crews that supply remote scientific research stations.”

“Polar exploration is not unlike space missions; we put people into the field where it is expensive and it is dangerous to do science,” said James Lever of the U.S. Army’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, which helped lead the Yeti project.

Ray and her students at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering designed and built a predecessor to Yeti called Cool Robot. Researchers plan to deploy Cool Robot this summer on the Greenland ice sheet where it will take atmospheric samples as it travels. “The solar-powered, four-wheel-drive Cool Robot led to Yeti’s success, while helping the researchers meet NSF’s goal of integrating research and education,” the NSF said.

The NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory also funded the development of Yeti.

Ray earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton in 1984 and, after receiving her master’s at Stanford, returned to the Princeton MAE department for her Ph.D. She was a student of Professor Robert Stengel, a renowned figure in the field of flight control systems, who is now applying his numerical expertise to a range of problems in biology.

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