ISR faculty leading bio-inspired robotics and transportation electrification REUs

Bio-inspired robotics REU

Professor Hugh Bruck (ME) is the principal investigator for the program and Associate Professor and former Maryland Robotics Center Director Sarah Bergbreiter (ME/ISR) is the co-PI. Both are faculty in the Maryland Robotics Center.

Bioinspired robotics offer a truly interdisciplinary systems research challenge that encompasses biology, materials, mechanical design, control, sensors and actuators, power, and electronics. To provide the collaborations necessary to solve some of these challenges and encourage students toward future research careers, this REU program provides exciting interdisciplinary research topics covering many aspects of bio-inspired robotics, their applicable technologies and applications. It also is preparing students for graduate school or research jobs in industry and labs.

The students are developing research projects, attending technical tutorial seminars, visiting local government labs involved in bioinspired robotics research, attending professional and academic development seminars, and touring Maryland’s top-notch facilities supporting robotics research including the UMD FabLab and Neutral Bouyancy Research Facility. Lunch discussions will provide an informal setting for students and mentors to discuss technical and non-technical topics.

Projects include: cube satellite scale dexterous manipulators; dynamic morphing wings for flapping wing MAV; determining factors casing flow of propylene carbonate in millimeter scale channels; heavy leg inverted pendulum model for milligram-scale quadrupedal robot locomotion; compliant touch sensing skins for collaborative robots; microrobot mechanism designs in a mobile Helmholtz coil system; quadcopter lateral thrust control; the effects of mass, stiffness, and geometry on wing performance for Robo Raven; soft robots; an efficient periodic gait for the starfish robot; actuation of acoustic metamaterials for biomimetic robotic applications.

In addition to Bruck and Bergbreiter, faculty advisors include Professor Elisabeth Smela (ME/ISR) and Professor Derek Paley (AE/ISR), and ISR-affiliated Professor and Maryland Robotics Center Director Miao Yu (ME), Associate Professor David Akin (AE), and Associate Professor Timothy Horiuchi (ECE).

Transportation electrification REU

The REU program in transportation electrification combines cutting edge, team-based research with technical and educational seminars. Associate Professor Alireza Khaligh (ECE/ISR) is the principal investigator and the director of this program. Faculty advisors include Professor Richard La (ECE/ISR), ISR-affiliated Assistant Professor Behtash Babadi (ECE), UMERC Director Eric Wachsman, Professor Patrick McCluskey (ME), Assistant Professor Marina Leite (MSE) and Associate Professor Liangbing Hu (MSE) are the faculty advisors. Graduate students in their research groups’ serve as mentors for this summer’s 10-week program.

The students have been developing research projects, attending technical seminars, visiting local industry and government organizations, and meeting with leaders in the field. They also attend ethics seminar series and discussions. The program will culminate in a program on August 11 where student teams will demonstrate their accomplishments and will be evaluated by a panel of experts.

Projects include packaging and reliability for power electronics for transportation electrification, development of packaging materials for wide bandgap power electronics for automotive applications, in-situ degradation monitoring of automotive power modules, integrated charger and auxiliary load dc-dc converter for electric vehicles, effect of bond parameters on shear strength of copper wire bonds for automotive applications, the application of the hidden markov model in the determination of optimal battery and capacitor usage in electric vehicles, three-phase integrated onboard chargers for electric vehicles, auxiliary power supplies for more electric aircrafts, and high power density batteries, solid oxide fuel cells.

“This NSF-sponsored program is a timely opportunity for this cohort of talented students to get early exposure to scientific research and take a step towards becoming future engineers, academicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, and leaders,” says Khaligh.

—Thanks to Kara Stamets in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Deaprtment for the transportation electrification portion of this story.

Published July 17, 2017