Faculty Directory

Akin, David

Akin, David

Associate Professor
Director of Space Systems Laboratory
Aerospace Engineering
The Institute for Systems Research
2100D Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility


  • B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( Aeronautics & Astronautics)
  • M.S.,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Aeronautics & Astronautics)
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Aeronautics & Astronautics)


Professional Services

  • Member, AIAA Distinguished Lecturer Program
  • Member, AIAA Space Automation and Robotics Technical Committee Chairman 1998-99
  • Member of NASA Telerobotics Intercenter Working Group
  • Member of NASWA EVA Forum
  • Member, NASA Solar System Exploration Subcommittee, Space Science Advisory Committee
  • Member, NASA Task Force on Technology Readiness
  • Member, NASA Mars Exploration Program Formulation and Planning Team
  • Organizer, NASA Mars Exploration Program Research Outreach Workshop
  • Chairman, Space Systems Faculty Search Committee (x2)
  • Chairman, Systems Design Curriculum Committee

Institutional Services

  • Member, Systems Dynamics and Control Curriculum Committee
  • Member of Undergraduate Committee
  • Member, University Diving Control Board
  • Member, Aerospace Engineering Undergraduate Committee


Space systems and operations; space human factors; telerobotics; space simulation; and space applications of artificial intelligence. Projects include NASA’s astrobiology project (ASTEP), a morphing upper torso, the Ranger satellite servicing system, an advanced research/simulation suit, the visual positioning system, partial gravity simulation, automatic rendezvous and docking, SCAMP, and an exoskeleton.

Conference Proceedings

  • David L. Akin, Craig R. Carignan, and Stephen R. Roderick, "Autonomous Dexterous Sampling: From the Arctic Ocean to Mars and Beyond" Earth-Space 2008 Conference, Long Beach, CA, March 2008
  • David L. Akin and Shane Jacobs, "Investigations into Several Approaches to EVA-Robot Integration" 2007-01-3232, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • Shane Jacobs, Elizabeth Benson, David Akin, "Kinematic Analysis of a Robotically Augmented Pressure Suit for Planetary Exploration" 2007-01-3171, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • Agnieszka A. Koscielniak and David L. Akin, "Development and Testing of a Metabolic Workload Measuring System for Space Suits" 2007-01-3212, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • Elizabeth Benson, Shane Jacobs, and David Akin, "Investigation of a Cable-Driven Parallel Mechanism for Pressure Suit Arm Resizing and Motion Assistance" 2007-01-3170, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • John Mularski and David Akin, "Water Immersion Ballasted Partial Gravity for Lunar and Martian EVA Simulation" 2007-01-3145, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • Craig M. Lewandowski and David L. Akin, "Development of a Single-Fluid Consumable Infrastructure for Portable Life Support Systems" 2007-01-3246, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • L. Aksman, C. Carignan, and D. Akin, "Force Estimation Based Compliance Control of Harmonically Driven Manipulators", IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Rome, Italy, April 2007
  • David L. Akin, "Human/Robotic Systems to Enable In-Space Operations in the CEV Era" AIAA-2006-7390, AIAA Space 2006 Conference and Exhibit, San Jose, California, Sep. 19-21, 2006
  • Brian Roberts and David Akin, "Robotic Servicing of Hubble Space Telescope: Lessons Learned from a Short-Lived Program" AIAA-2006-7393, AIAA Space 2006 Conference and Exhibit, San Jose, California, Sep. 19-21, 2006
  • David Akin, Brian Roberts, Stephen Roderick, Walter Smith, and Jean-Marc Henriette, "MORPHbots: Lightweight Modular Self-Reconfigurable Robotics for Space Assembly, Inspection, and Servicing" AIAA-2006-7408, AIAA Space 2006 Conference and Exhibit, San Jose, California, Sep. 19-21, 2006
  • Shane E. Jacobs, David L. Akin, Jeffrey R. Braden, and David Graziosi, "Morphing Upper Torso: A Novel Concept in EVA Suit Design" 2006-01-2142, 36th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Norfolk, VA, July 2006
  • Shane E. Jacobs, David L. Akin, and Jeffrey R. Braden, "System Overview and Operations of the MX-2 Neutral Buoyancy Space Suit Analogue" 2006-01-2287, 36th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Norfolk, VA, July 2006

Khaligh, Rudnick-Cohen win 2019 ISR awards

The awards were given at ISR’s Welcome Back Reception and Awards Ceremony.

Clark School Team to Compete in NASA's RASC-AL Competition

A team of Clark School students will compete in this year's RASC-AL competition, held June 18-20, 2019.

Consensus for First-of-its-Kind Pre-College Engineering Course

Representatives from more than 100 high schools, colleges, and universities convened at the E4USA Engineering Curriculum Workshop.

Bioinspired robotics REU students present final projects

The REU was led by Hugh Bruck and Sarah Bergbreiter, along with Clark School faculty and graduate student mentors.

UMD RASC-AL Team Wins Big, Akin Recognized with PEACH Award

A team of 19 undergraduate students won first place for the RASC-AL theme category and second place in the overall competition.

BBI Holds 2017 Seed Grant Symposium

Over 115 people attend symposium featuring work and accomplishments of BBI Seed Grant Awardees for FY16/FY17.

ISR faculty leading bio-inspired robotics and transportation electrification REUs

NSF's REU program provides undergraduate students with hands-on exposure to scientific research.

UMD Takes Second Place in NASA RASC-AL Competition

Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkages (RASC-AL) Space Design Competition

Congratulations ISR graduates!

These new alumni graduated from the University of Maryland in December 2016.

Two UMD Teams NASA BIG Idea Challenge Finalists

Two UMD Aerospace Engineering student teams selected as finalists in NASA's BIG Idea Challenge.

Paley presents at NAE 2016 Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

Three Clark School faculty attend NAE 2016 Frontiers of Engineering Symposium.

NAI Fellows' names read into the Congressional Record

Rep. David Jolly honored the Fellows, who include John Baras, Ben Shneiderman, Robert Fischell and E. Albert Reece of the University System of Maryland.

UMD Students Win 2015 RASC-AL Competition

Aerospace engineering students design winning concept for a Mars settlement and lunar refueling station.

UMD Team Wins 2015 Robo-Ops and Sets New Course Record

Maryland students and their rover 'Frigg' win first place at the 2015 Robo-Ops Competition.

Aerospace Students Excel at 14th AIAA YPSE Conference

UMD students placed in both presentations and paper categories at the 14th AIAA YPSE Conference.

Students present final projects for 2014 NSF Microrobotics REU

Research ranged from robotic skin to leg designs, inertial tail actuators, and more.

UMD Students Place Second in 2014 RASC-AL Competition

Aerospace engineering undergrad students place second overall in 2014 RASC-AL competition.

UMD Alumni Hatch Sub-$300 Consumer 3D Printer, Raise $3.3 Million on Kickstarter

Alumni-founded company races past $50,000 goal in 11 minutes, hits $1 million in 25 hours.

Aerospace Faculty Recognized at 15th Annual Research Leaders Luncheon

15 Department of Aerospace Engineering's faculty honored for successful research funding efforts.

UMD Takes Second at 2013 RASC-AL Competition

Undergraduate aerospace design team places second at NASA RASC-AL competition.

Demeter Takes Second Place in 2013 Robo-Ops

Students guide planetary rover robot to second place in RASC-AL Exploration Robo-Ops Competition.

New grad students: how to choose a faculty advisor

Make the transition to grad school a bit smoother by watching this informative video.

Raghavan, Spyropoulos, Daily, Copeland win ISR awards

Outstanding awards presented at special reception in September.

Clark School Students Shine in Recent Competitions

Teams earn first place in DOE Hydrogen Student Design Contest; third in NASA Robo-ops Competition.

Cukier, Maimon featured on SC Magazine podcast

The researchers discuss their collaboration correlating criminology with cybersecurity.

Shapiro wins NSF grant for assembly of colloidal crystals

NSF-sponsored research could lead to technologies such as optical computing, energy harvesting, sub-diffraction limit imaging and invisibility cloaking.

Clark School a Finalist in NASA X-Hab Competition

Clark School students to build inflatable space habitat in NASA competition finals.

FAA approves NEXTOR II aviation operations research contract

ISR's Michael Ball and David Lovell lead the University of Maryland NEXTOR II team.

Lovell honored with Clark School's ENGAGED Faculty designation

Undergraduate students nominate faculty who are mentors and role models.

Maryland students impress at National Robotics Week

Projects highlight Maryland Robotics Center research.

University of Maryland, U.S. Army RDECOM sign CRADA Agreement

Agreement expands research, development and engineering efforts between the two entities.

Boyson co-authors chapter in World Economic Forum report

ISR faculty member offers blueprint for leveraging emerging communication.

New Honda Visiting Scientist arrives at ISR

Mr. Shigeru Narihiro will conduct control theory research with Dave Akin and Robert Sanner

Twelve REU students welcomed

Summer experience gives undergrads the opportunity to work with ISR researchers

Akin featured on All Things Considered

Researcher speaks about the future of the space shuttle

NASA-Goddard to award Space Systems Lab cooperative research agreement

Dave Akin's lab called "uniquely qualified" for dexterous space robotics

Akin appears on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer

ISR-affiliated associate professor speaks on the future of space exploration

SSL's Ranger robot featured on Discovery Channel

Program on Hubble Space Telescope highlights Dave Akin's work for NASA

NASA announces Canadian robot, not Ranger, to be used to repair Hubble

August 2004—Disappointment for Ranger's developer, ISR Associate Professor Dave Akin.

Akin is finalist in Hubble Space Telescope repair plan

June 2004—Ranger robot developed by ISR associate professor could be used to repair famed eye in the sky.

Akin team ties for first place at NASA competition

May 2004—"MORPHLAB" to be presented at AIAA Space 2004.

Space Systems Laboratory's Ranger robot is proposed to NASA

Proposal is made to assist in upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope

Akin PI for NASA ASTEP award

Program examines extreme Earth environments to enable future space missions to determine whether life exists or has existed.

Akin, Principal Investigator for NASA award

NASA's $3 million ASTEP award will fund development of dexterous robot arm...

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

  • Associate Fellow