Name: Randal Beard
BYU employee since… 1996
My job at BYU is… Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Currently, I’m working on… inventing algorithms that enable unmanned aircraft to fly autonomously based on a variety of sensors that include on-board cameras.
I get most excited about my work when… my students and I are in the middle of discovering some new technique or algorithm, when we realize that it works well in computer simulation, that there is a solid mathematical foundation, and that there is a significant chance that it will work well in practice.
My first signal processing course as an undergraduate in Electrical Engineering changed the way I view the world because it was the first time that I realized that mathematics is a language that enables creativity.
The best advice I’ve ever got about teaching is… less is more (i.e., teach less material and the students will understand more of it). Unfortunately, I have a hard time following that advice.
My favorite lecture to teach is… Lyapunov’s second method/theorem, taught in my graduate course on Nonlinear Systems. The theorem is the foundation for designing control algorithms to stabilize a wide variety of engineered systems, including aircraft, robots, insulin pumps and internet protocols, to name a few.
On Saturday mornings, you can find me… mountain biking or working in my yard, two of my favorite hobbies.
My favorite BYU Creamery ice cream flavor is… are you kidding! I love them all!
The best-kept BYU secret is… My hope is that there are no best-kept secrets at BYU. The university provides a world-class education in a wholesome, spiritually nourishing environment. Why keep that a secret? We should tell the world! I count my employment at BYU as one of the great blessings in my life.
My go-to comfort food is… I could not have admitted this a year ago but . . . when I’m having a bad day, a Diet Coke is sure to make me feel better.
I’m most looking forward to… my daughter’s safe return in August from her mission in Puerto Rico.
My favorite quote is… “God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation.” — Thomas S. Monson
My favorite TV show growing up was… Knight Rider. It was this show about a high-tech artificially intelligent car that could talk, knew the answer to any question, drive itself, help its owner fight crimes and do just about anything else you might hope for in a self-driving car.
If I could travel anywhere, I would go to… Island Park, Idaho because our family has a cabin in Island Park, and it is one of my favorite locations on earth.