HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Mike and Sharon!!!

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We are fortunate to have had a great 2008! The biggest news 'round these parts is that Sharon is now "Sharon, P.E.!" That's right, we just found out this week that Sharon passed the P.E. (Professional Engineering) exam and will soon be a licensed engineer in Colorado and New Mexico! She's very excited and has received excellent recognition at her work (Alaska-based WHPacific, Inc.) for this achievement. At last, we're both done working towards our respective “suffixes!” Naiya is particularly excited for us, since we now have even more time to take her to the park and play fetch!

Mike had a great first year back at Sandia, working on some interesting research projects, while also making the occasional business trip for customer visits and recruiting (CO, CA, FL). Mike also had some recent big news: A condensed journal article version of his thesis, titled “Learning Terrain Segmentation with Classifier Ensembles for Autonomous Robot Navigation in Unstructured Environments,” was recently accepted for publication into the Journal of Field Robotics and will appear in print in early 2009. This means that his Ph.D. research has at least some basic, nominal value, and Mike is pretty happy. A related conference paper he wrote earlier in the year was accepted for publication at a conference in Nice, France this past September (IROS ’08)… the city of Nice, of course, being where Sharon and Mike lived together while studying abroad in college (9 years ago!).

Since Mike was invited to present his paper in Nice, we seized the opportunity and took some time off beforehand for a European vacation! We had a fantastic two-week whirlwind adventure, visiting Milan, Monza, and Rome, Italy; Prague, Czech Republic; and Nice, France. It was so neat to see our old stomping grounds (Mougins, Antibes), all while practicing our French and Italian! Favorite highlights include seeing Il Cenacolo in Milan, watching a Formula 1 race in Monza, walking the Charles Bridge in Prague at night, and driving the Grand Corniche along the French Riviera.

More than anything else, though, we loved having visits from all of our family and friends in our new home here in Albuquerque, especially now that we're pretty much fully settled in. We'd love it if you came out for a visit, too! Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a very Happy New Year!

 

Love,

Mike, Sharon, and Naiya

 

 

Naiya-Bear

 

The Pantheon, Rome, Italy – 9-18-2008

 

Our Christmas lights at dusk – 11-30-2008

 

Heading out to Christmas parties – 12-13-2008

 

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta – 10-4-2008

 

 

Skiin’ the fresh powder in Telluride, CO – 3-30-2008

 

Lisa and Cam’s Wedding, Gold Lake, CO – 6-14-2008

 

Sharon’s 10-year high school reunion, Orlando 6-28-2008

 

Formula 1 Grand Prix Race, Monza, Italy – 9-14-2008

 

Powder Tower at Night, Prague, Czech Republic – 9-16-2008

 

Drivin’ up to the Mine Shaft Tavern, Madrid, NM – 7-12-08

 

Our updated kitchen – 11-22-2008

 

Mike rockin’ out in his band, void * – 12-12-2008