Kelly Cohen Soars to New Heights

By: Ashley Duvelius

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)’s Intelligent Systems Technical Committee (ISTC) announced that UC CEAS associate professor, Kelly Cohen, PhD, was elected to be the Technical Committee’s new Chair.


The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)’s Intelligent Systems Technical Committee (ISTC) recently elected UC CEAS associate professor, Kelly Cohen, PhD, as new the Technical Committee Chair. Currently, Cohen is associate editor of AIAA’s Journal of Aerospace Computing, Information and Communication and an associate fellow of the AIAA.

As an Intelligent Systems enthusiast, Cohen wrote his PhD thesis and continues to conduct current research in the field. Over the past 6 years, he has been very active on the ISTC and his fellow members have taken notice of his various contributions. 

“Being elected as the Chair tells me that my professional colleagues wish to grant me the honor and authority to lead them in the coming years. With this position comes great responsibility, as I need to perform in conjunction to all of my regular duties at UC, and I will do so whole-heartedly,” vows Cohen.

Cohen has been a faculty mentor in the University of Cincinnati’s, NSF sponsored, summer Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program for the past 3 years. Cohen also serves as director of UC’s Morphing and Optimization Systems Technology for Aerospace Labs (MOST-AERO). His mission is to provide an enriched, laboratory-based learning experience by combining student research with instruction to enhance the students’ desire to learn.

Cohen has been with UC since 2007, as an associate professor of aerospace engineering. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in introduction to aeronautical engineering, integrated aircraft engineering design, basic control systems, and intelligent control. His research interests include Intelligent Systems, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, feedback flow control, fuzzy logic control, cooperative multi-agent management of natural disasters, low order modeling, nonlinear system identification and morphing aircrafts.

cohen and charvat SIERRA

Kelly Cohen, flanked by Manish Kumar and Rob Charvat flew a robot airplane over a controlled forest fire in West Virginia to demonstrate a computerized system to get data to firefighters.

Additionally, Cohen remains heavily involved in a UC demonstration program called Surveillance for Intelligent Emergency Response Robotic Aircraft (SIERRA). In March 2012, the Discovery Channel aired a 6 minute documentary of him and his team of graduate students’ effort. SIERRA provides firefighters with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles which have global positioning systems, environmental data, video and fire-prediction software to give real-time information about where a fire is burning, and where it is moving.

The SIERRA team tested the system in Coopers Rock State Forest, West Virginia, with a small, contained fire on Nov. 5, 2011, in collaboration with the West Virginia Division of Forestry. The UC team present at this test included five graduate students and three undergraduates who experienced a valuable day of learning away from the classroom and labs. The SIERRA system proved itself to be a success and Cohen looks forward to seeing fire and police departments using the technology in the next 3 to 4 years.

The AIAA Intelligent Systems Technical Committee (ISTC) is concerned with the application of Intelligent System (IS) technologies and methods to aerospace systems, the verification and validation of these systems, and the education of the AIAA membership in the use of IS technologies in aerospace and other technical disciplines.

Once, every two years, members at an ISTC meeting are asked to nominate potential chairs. This, in turn, is followed by an election where all regular members get one vote a piece. Associate members, usually students, and international members do not have a vote. As the Chair, Cohen leads a group of 50 members from Academia, Industry and Government organized into about 10 sub-committees to advance the interests of the ISTC with an emphasis on conference planning, publications, professional development opportunities and education (University as well as Outreach).

Cohen eagerly awaits the opportunities the future holds for him. He wishes to advance the efforts of the ISTC while instilling enthusiasm in all of their undertakings. In parallel, he continuously pursues his passion by developing MOST-AERO labs into a worldwide center of excellence in Intelligent Systems.

Cohen began his career when he graduated from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel with his Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering (’86). He also received his MS (’91) and PhD (’99) in aerospace engineering from Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. Between 1986 and 2005, Cohen was a program manager with a focus on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Intelligent Control. From 2005 to 2007, he worked as a research contractor focused on low dimensional modeling, system identification and control of unsteady wake flows.