Dr. Michael Hadjimichael Receives SAE International's Arch T. Colwell Merit Award

7/30/2007 - 40-07r
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Dr. Michael Hadjimichael, a computer scientist with the Naval Research Laboratory, has been selected to receive SAE International's Arch T. Colwell Merit Award. Dr. Hadjimichael and co-author, Dr. John McCarthy are recognized for their paper, "Development of a Fuzzy Expert System for Aviation Risk Modeling." They will be presented the award during the SAE AeroTech Congress & Exhibition in Los Angeles in September.

The Flight Operations Risk Assessment System (FORAS) described in Drs. Hadjimichael and McCarthy's paper is a risk modeling methodology that represents risk factors and their interrelationships as a fuzzy expert system. FORAS systematizes the process of eliciting human expertise, provides for a natural representation of the knowledge in an expert system, and automates the process of risk assessment.

There are many challenges in developing such a system. These include the selection of relevant subject matter experts; the combination and reconciliation of multiple, subjective knowledge bases; and the representation of knowledge in a model easily expressed, evaluated, and revised. Their paper presents the technical background of the FORAS methodology, and demonstrates its implementation, as performed on its first operational partner, EVA Airways, of Taiwan. Other airlines are also planning to use FORAS methods in the near future.

The risk model implementation and deployment in an operational context allows safety personnel to track and analyze past risk exposure on an individual flight basis, as well as per route, month, and airport. This analysis will allow the airline to focus on high-exposure areas and take appropriate action to mitigate risk. Analysis of future flights can also determine mitigative action, as well as indicate situations where heightened alertness is required.

The Arch T. Colwell Merit Award, established in 1965, annually recognizes the authors of outstanding papers presented at an SAE or SAE section meeting. Papers are judged primarily for their value as new contributions to existing knowledge of mobility engineering. The late Arch T. Colwell, who first funded this award, served SAE International in many capacities for nearly 50 years, including a term as President in 1941. The SAE Foundation now funds this award. In addition to supporting the awards, recognition and scholarship programs of SAE International, the SAE Foundation develops and funds programs and incentives that foster student interest in engineering, scientific and technical education.

Dr. Hadjimichael received his B.A. in computer science and physics from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; his M.Sc. in computer science from State University of New York at Stony Brook; and his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He works in NRL's Marine Meteorology Division where his areas of research and interest include artificial intelligence, fuzzy systems, risk modeling and data mining. He has been involved in aviation risk assessment for seven years, and his research has concentrated on the use of fuzzy and Bayesian systems to model aviation risk. Other current research involves the use of knowledge discovery methods to estimate weather parameters from numerical weather models and satellite data. Dr. Hadjimichael received an NRC Research Associateship Award from 1995 to 1998.

Dr. McCarthy, the co-author on the paper, is President of Aviation Weather Associates, Inc., in Palm Desert, CA. He is also a weather consultant with the Federal Aviation Administration. Previously, he worked at NRL in Monterey, CA, and served as Director of the Research Applications Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO.

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