Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Feb 16, 2005

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Professor Jason Speyer, mechanical and aerospace engineering, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for “the development and application of advanced techniques for optimal navigation and control of a wide range of aerospace vehicles.”

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer.

During Speyer’s career, he pioneered several key guidance, control and estimation technologies by developing new optimal deterministic and stochastic control and estimation theories and algorithms.

Of interest to Speyer were theoretical and numerical methods in deterministic optimal control dealing with state variable inequality constraints, matrix differential and difference equations, singular optimal control problems, and systems with non-differentiable dynamic and cost functions. He successfully developed and applied matrix calculus of variations to the Apollo autonomous navigation system, later verified on Apollo 8.

He also pioneered the development of periodic optimal control theory, numerical methods, and periodic optimal guidance mechanization with applications to aircraft fuel-optimal cruise and endurance.

Speyer was the first to apply modern – linear-quadratic Gaussian – control to a fielded system, the Patriot missile system. Later, working with his students at the University of Texas, Speyer also applied robust optimal control syntheses to the design of the Advanced Fighter Technology Integration F-16’s longitudinal decoupled controller.

In addition, he pioneered robust analytical redundancy management methodology. For example, a scheme composed of residual generating robust fault detection filters enhanced by residual processors based on multiple-hypotheses sequential probability tests for rapid detection and identification of faults was verified on an autonomous Caltrans Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways car.

Speyer also was instrumental in the development of formation flight technology for drag reduction. In meeting the goal of formation flight, his team at UCLA was the first to implement differential carrier phase GPS blended with an inertial navigation system on two F-18s at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, which measured relative position, velocity and attitude. This system achieved centimeter accuracy in relative position.

Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education, and to the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing or implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.

For more information on Speyer’s research interests, please visit

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