Education

Georgia State University. Atlanta, Ga.  
  • Ph.D. in neuroscience. Graduated Spring 2009.
  • MS in biology.  Graduated Spring 2008. 
  • BS in biology.  Graduated Summer 2004.
 
Tennessee Technological University. Cookeville, Tn. 
  • BS in computer Science. Graduated May 1998.
  • MS in biology.  Graduated Spring 2008. 
  • BS in Electrical Engineering. Graduated May 1996 Emphasis in digital and controls systems.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

NeuroRobotic Technologies, LLC Maidson, Al 2/11 – Present

Continuation of the AnimatLab Project

  • Built new and vastly enhanced version of the AnimatLab neuromechanical simulation software.
  • Converted all the graphics to use OpenSceneGraph (OSG), and OpenGL.
  • Added a new open-source physics engine based on the Bullet physics platform.
  • Upgraded the simulator to run on Linux as well as Windows, and to run on embedded Linux platforms for robotics.
  • Built a new Robotics framework that makes it easy for almost anyone to build neural control systems and use them on both real and simulated robotic systems.
 

Electronics and Robotics

  • Built a new hexapod robot kit and I am currently converting it to use the AnimatLab Robotics Framework.
  • Built a custom robot arm that uses some simple neural control systems. I also produced several detailed video tutorials showing how to build this system.
  • Currently building the Jetduino cape for the Jetson TK1. This is an Arduino Due board on a custom cape that fits on the Jetson TK1 and allows high-speed communication between the two for controlling robotic systems.
 
AEgis Technologis Huntsville, Al 2/11 – Present

Senior Software Engineer and Technical project leader

  • Modelling and simulation of unmanned air and ground vehicles.
  • Technical team leader and Agile scrum master for several large projects.
  • Used OpenSceneGraph (OSG), Bullet physics engine, and JSBsim flight dynamics models to model Army unmanned air and ground vehicles.
 
CareerBuilder.com Norcross, Ga 2/11 – 3/12

Software Engineer III

Software engineer level III working on large multi-tier projects to build and manage the financial systems for the largest US internet job board. Extentsive use of Agile/Scrum methodologies for lean development.
 
Georgia State University Atlanta, Ga 5/04 – 2/11

AnimatLab Project Lead

  • Project manager and lead developer for a neuromechanical simulation package named AnimatLab (www.animatlab.com).
  • AnimatLab performs near real-time simulation of biologically realistic neural networks and musculoskeletal models that are situated in a physically accurate virtual world.
  • Used DirectX for the 3-D graphics.
  • Physics for the virtual world used CM-labs Vortex engine.
  • UI was written in vb.net and c#, while the simulation code was in STL compliant C++. A managed C++ wrapper allows the GUI to interact with the simulation.
  • Uses OOD standards. Plug-in based architecture so 3rd parties can add custom code.
  • Built entire website, including over 60 video training tutorials.
  • Designed and built a hybrid electronic control system that interfaces the nervous system of a live crayfish to a virtual body running on a PC in real time. The board converts signals from the living animal and transmits them into the neuromechanical simulation. Feedback from muscles then drive sensor signals in the living organism.
 

Dissertation on the neuromechanics of locust jumping.

  • Built a 3-D biomechanical model of locust, with a detailed reproduction of rear jumping legs.
  • Recreated the hypothesized jumping neural circuitry and connected it to the biomechanical model to control jumping.
  • Simulations were run on a computer grid and data was analyzed using custom scripts within Matlab.
  • Discovered that hypothesized circuits were sufficient to produce jumping behavior.
  • Simulated locust jumps matched real locust behavior very closely.
  • Model helped elucidate how locust control the rate of tumbling during a jump by flexing their bodies during the propulsive phase to control the location of their center of mass..
  • Published three papers in peer-reviewed journals related to this work, along with my dissertation. 
  • Currently helping to write a text book on neuromechanics.
 

Electronics and Robotics

  • Designed and built several Xilinx FPGA boards from scratch using the Eagle PCB software. These boards ran a custom neuromorphic simulation of spiking neurons using VHDL software I developed.
  • Built a hexapod robot which used the neural net from an insect to walk.
 
Careerbuilder.com Atlanta, Ga 5/00 – 5/04

Software Engineer

  • I was part of a team of developers for the second largest job site on the Internet.
  • Helped develop the sales system that reps used to purchase products. Xml data packets were used to communicate between the asp.net pages and business and data objects running on a large server farm which interfaced with a sql server database.
  • Developed a set of web pages that outside customers could use to power the career sections on their sites. The appearance of the pages for each customer could be tailored to make it look like you were still on their site. Some of the major customers were Walt-Disney, Hewlett Packard, and the US Army.
  • Built the tibco handler application that performs all product purchases for the website. Used business objects to create the new contracts and accounts, and perform CC transactions. Processed over $80 Million in products from 1/1/03 to 11/1/03.
  • Helped develop the core systems to interface our database with a pivotal customer management system to provide real-time updates of users, accounts and products.
  • Heavily involved in importing the data from other acquired websites so they could be shut down.
 
Hampton Tilley Knoxville, Tn 5/98 – 5/00

Software Engineer

  • Worked as a contractor developing warehouse integration and inventory tracking systems (SCADA).
  • Used visual basic, asp, Microsoft transaction server (mts), sql server, and oracle to gather information from barcode scanners, PLCs, and hand-held devices to track products on assembly lines.
  • Developed hand-held scanner user interface and backend objects.
  • Built numerous applications to map data from one system or db to another using either real time or batched processing.
 

PUBLICATIONS

  1. Cofer, D. (2009). Neuromechanical Analysis of the Locust Jump. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Georgia State digital archive. (http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/biology_diss/57/)
  2. Cofer, D., Cymbalyuk, G., Reid, J., Zhu, Y., Heitler, W. and Edwards, D. H. (2010). AnimatLab: A 3-D graphics environment for neuromechanical simulations. J Neuroscience Methods. 187, 280-288.
  3. Cofer, D. W., Cymbalyuk, G., Heitler, W. J. and Edwards, D. H. (2010). Neuromechanical simulation of the locust jump. J Exp Biol 213, 1060-1068.
  4. Cofer, D., Cymbalyuk G., Heitler W.J., and Edwards D.H. (2010) Control of tumbling during the locust jump. J Exp Biol., 213(Pt 19), p. 3378-87.
  5. Nicholas S Szczecinski, David M Chrzanowski, David W Cofer, David R Moore, Andrea S Terrasi, Joshua P Martin, Roy E Ritzmann, Roger D Quinn (2015) MantisBot: A Platform for Investigating Mantis Behavior via Real-Time Neural ControlLiving Machinesp. 175-186
  6. Nicholas S Szczecinski, David M Chrzanowski, David W Cofer, Andrea S Terrasi, David R Moore, Joshua P Martin, Roy E Ritzmann, Roger D Quinn (2015) Introducing MantisBot: Hexapod Robot Controlled by a High- Fidelity, Real-Time Neural SimulationIEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systemsp. 3875-3881

PAPER/POSTER PRESENTATIONS

  1. Cofer, D. W., Zhu, Y., Edwards, D. H., Aquillo, A., Cymbalyuk, G. and Owen, S. G. A 3-D graphics environment for behavioral neurobiology research. ACM SIGGRAPH conference, Los Angeles, CA, 2004.
  2. Cofer, D. W., Reid, J., Zhu, Y. and Edwards, D. H. A 3-D graphics toolkit for studying neural basis of adaptive behaviors. ACM SIGGRAPH conference, Los Angeles, CA, 2005.
  3. Cofer, D. W., Reid, J., Zhu, Y., Cymbalyuk, G., Heitler, W. J. and Edwards D. H. AnimatLab: A Physics Based 3-D Graphics Environment for Behavioral Neurobiology Research. Computational Neuroscience, Edinburgh, UK, 2006.
  4. Cofer, D. W., Reid, J., Zhu, Y., Cymbalyuk, G., Heitler, W. J. and Edwards D. H. Effects of the Loss of the Semi-Lunar Process during a Biomechanical Simulation of Locust Jumping. Computational Neuroscience, Toronto, CA, 2007.
  5. Cofer, D. W., Reid, J., Zhu, Y., Cymbalyuk, G., Heitler, W. J. and Edwards D. H. Effects of the Loss of the Semi-Lunar Process during a Biomechanical Simulation of Locust Jumping. International Congress of Neuroethology, Vancouver, CA, 2007.
  6. Cofer, D. W., Reid, J., Zhu, Y., Cymbalyuk, G., Heitler, W. J. and Edwards D. H. Analysis of Jumping in a Physically Realistic Virtual Locust. American Physical Society, New Orleans, LA, 2008.

About Us

NeuroRobotic Technologies is dedicated to creating the next generation of intelligent, adaptive robotic systems by building autonomous controls systems that mimic the brains of real animals.