Miguel Castroviejo Fernandez Announced as 2024 FXB Fellowship Awardee

PhD student awarded one of Michigan Aerospace’s most prestigious fellowships

Miguel Castroviejo Fernandez has been honored with the prestigious 2024 FXB Fellowship for his research in Control Theory and its applications to aerospace systems. The (FXB) Fellowship stands as one of the most esteemed doctoral-level awards in the aerospace department, providing funding to support the recipient and their research. Established by the FXB Foundation in memory of the late Michigan Aerospace graduate François-Xavier Bagnoud, this award is given each year to an individual who had an impact on the analysis and design of flight vehicles with their research. 

“It is a very significant honor to be selected as the FXB fellowship recipient, and it enables me to fully dedicate myself to the research I am passionate about. I draw both inspiration and motivation from being among the exceptional individuals who have received this fellowship in the past,” Fernandez remarked.

Fernandez’s research is concentrated on Constrained Control, Model Predictive Control (MPC), Optimization, and their applications to spacecraft control. His primary objective is to advance the theory of Constrained Control to a level applicable to complex autonomous spacecraft missions, such as On-Orbit Service, Assembly, and Manufacturing (OSAM). By addressing challenges in multi-agent systems’ dynamics, contact dynamics, and constraints, Fernandez aims to navigate uncertainties while dealing with uncooperative spacecraft.

Recognizing the pivotal role of active control in aerospace system design, he will be delving into Control-Aware Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO). He further explained, “I would like to develop a family of bilevel optimization algorithms that can handle different model fidelities in the outer and inner loop optimization problems and use inexact gradients in solving the optimization problems without compromising convergence.” Given the multidisciplinary nature of flight vehicles and the need to optimize their performance, MDO has become integral in aerospace vehicle design.

Fernandez has made significant contributions to enhancing the reliability and computational speed of model predictive control (MPC). MPC is broadly used for control of systems subject to safety-critical state and control constraints. He has devised a novel scheme that merges input-constrained MPC with a unique formulation of the reference governor to handle both state and input constraints. This approach ensures safety assurance and requires minimal computations, making it particularly valuable for smaller autonomous vehicles with limited onboard computing power. Additionally, he further explains that his work extends to developing robust supervisory reference governor schemes, adept at handling time-varying disturbances and uncertainties, relevant in scenarios like aircraft control during wing icing conditions. 

“In his doctoral research, Miguel has been pursuing imaginative, impactful, and far-reaching ideas at the interdisciplinary frontier between constrained and optimization-based control and spacecraft applications,” commented Aerospace Engineering Professor Ilya Kolmanovsky. “Miguel’s focus on advances in control/design optimization and demonstrating benefits and new capabilities for aerospace vehicles matches the spirit and the letter of the FXB Fellowship, and I am very pleased that he has been selected to receive this very significant distinction. The FXB Fellowship will provide Miguel much flexibility not only in completing his current research but also in pursuing additional directions and starting new research endeavors.” 

Fernandez graduated from Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium, and gained industry experience in Japan through the Vulcanus in Japan scholarship. In 2021 he began pursuing his PhD degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan.