Dean Edwards, Ph.D.
Awards and Honors
Professor Emeritus Dean Edwards has been named a 2019 National Academy of Inventors Fellow!
Edwards worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for 10 years, conducting research that would later provide the basis for General Motors’ first electric vehicle, the EV1, as well as the Tesla electric vehicle.
While at U of I, Edwards worked with students to build several hybrid electric vehicles for national competition in the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Challenge.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, SAE International, and auto industry giants like Ford and General Motors, the competition challenged collegiate teams from across the nation to build a hybrid electric vehicle prototype. U of I teams developed HEVs from the ground up to be evaluated on vehicle design, energy efficiency and overall dynamic performance.
His research also included developing robotic forest vehicles for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He started a company called Forest Robots, LLC, marketing small, robotic vehicles tasked with roaming forests to appraise tree health, reducing combustible material and the severity of wildfires.
As a professor emeritus, Edwards is currently active with AUVs and works closely with the Acoustic Research Detachment (ARD) in Bayview, Idaho. The Lake Pend Oreille Naval Sea Systems Command warfare center conducts research and testing on submarine acoustics and propulsion systems.
Edwards has worked with both undergraduate and graduate students at ARD on AUV testing, research with many applications, including using fleets of UAVs to locate live mines in the ocean.