Virginia Tech’s Mathieu Joerger was recently honored by his peers and colleagues with two prestigious awards from the Institute of Navigation (ION).

In early January, Joerger was presented with the organization’s Colonel Thomas L. Thurlow Award to recognize his significant contributions to integrity and continuity assurance for safety-of-life navigation. At the same meeting, Joerger was honored along with colleagues Elisa Gallon and Boris Pervan with the renowned Samuel M. Burka Award for their paper “Robust Modeling of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Orbit and Clock Error Dynamics.” 

The annual honors were presented at the joint assembly of the 2023 ION International Technical Meeting and the Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications meeting held in Long Beach, California. Joerger, an assistant professor in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech, has focused his research on investigating multisensory localization safety for autonomous transportation systems. 

Colonel Thomas L. Thurlow Award

The Thurlow Award is granted in recognition of outstanding contributions to the science of navigation and is given in memory of Col. Thomas L. Thurlow of the U.S. Army Air Corps, a brilliant engineer, skillful pilot, and able officer who contributed significantly to the development and testing of navigation equipment and the training of navigators and pilots. 

As a contributor to the EU-U.S. Cooperation on Satellite Navigation, a cooperative working group between the United States and the European Union in the field of satellite navigation, Joerger has pioneered the newest concepts and algorithms to enable safe GNSS-based vertical guidance for aircraft. Since arriving at Virginia Tech in 2019, he has published 33 conference papers and 12 peer-reviewed journal papers. 

Joerger has also served as senior editor of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems of navigation since 2021 and as technical and associate editor since 2014. Joerger also serves as chair of Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services Special Committee-134 Working Group 1 on integrity for GNSS-based high-accuracy applications. 

A rising star within the navigation community, Joerger previously received ION’s 2009 Bradford W. Parkinson Award and the 2015 ION Early Achievement Award. Since 2010, he has won 16 ION Best Presentation Awards. 

 Joerger received both the Thurlow Award (left) and the Burka Award (right) alongside his doctoral student Elisa Gallon.
ION’s International Technical Meeting proved twice as nice for Mathieu Joerger, who received both the Thurlow Award (at left) and the Burka Award (at right) alongside his doctoral student Elisa Gallon. Photos courtesy of Mathieu Joerger.

Samuel M. Burka Award

The good news kept rolling in during the meeting with the announcement of the organization’s Burka Award. Gallon, Joerger, and Pervan were recognized for their paper on GNSS orbit and clock error dynamics. Their joint research, published in the winter 2022 volume of the society’s professional journal NAVIGATION, introduces new, robust, sequential models for GNSS satellite orbit and clock errors using the concept of power spectral density bounding. 

Global navigation satellite systems can provide continuous worldwide absolute positioning but require visibility of four or more satellites. This is not always achievable in sky-obstructed environments, and GNSS systems have proven vulnerable to radio-frequency interference. In contrast, sensors in inertial navigation systems (INS) are not directly impacted by these external factors but can experience estimation drift errors. Through integration of INS and GNSS systems using a Kalman filter, researchers can simultaneously limit the drift in INS positioning error and provide continuity through sky obstructions and robustness against GNSS jamming and spoofing attacks. 

Gallon is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Navigation Laboratory at Illinois Institute of Technology and is co-advised by Joerger and Pervan, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the institute. 

The Burka Award is given in memory of Samuel M. Burka, a dedicated public servant who devoted a long and distinguished career to the research and development of air navigation equipment and reviewing technical material for official publications.

Share this story