Archives—November 2013

MEEM Graduate Seminar: Ankle impedance and ankle angles during step turn and straight walk

The Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics Graduate Seminar; Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Room 112, ME-EM Bldg. Evandro Ficanha, Michigan Technological University

Title: Ankle impedance and ankle angles during step turn and straight walk: implications for the design of a steerable ankle-foot prosthetic robot

During locomotion, turning is a common and recurring event which is largely neglected in the current state-of-the-art ankle-foot prostheses, forcing amputees to use different steering mechanisms for turning, compared to non-amputees. A better understanding of the complexities surrounding lower limb prostheses will lead to increased health and well-being of amputees. The aim of this research is to develop a steerable ankle-foot prosthesis that mimics the human ankle mechanical properties. I will present the results of a series of experiments that were conducted to estimate the mechanical impedance of the human ankle when muscles were fully relaxed and co – contracting antagonistically. Also, the results of experiments on ankle rotations during different gait scenarios will be discussed to provide evidence that a multi -axis prosthesis may be needed to improve the mobility in amputees . The results of the aforementioned experiments were used for developing the control strategy of the ankle -foot prosthesis. A prototype ankle-foot prosthesis capable of controlling both dorsi/plantarflexion and inversion/eversion using a cable driven mechanism was developed and assessed as part of a feasibility study. The design is capable of reproducing the angles required for straight walk and step turn; generates 712N of lifting force in plantarflexion, and shows passive stiffness comparable to a non-load bearing human ankle impedance. To evaluate the performance of the ankle-foot prosthesis, a circular treadmill was developed to mimic human gait during steering. Preliminary results show that the device can appropriately simulate human gait with loading and unloading the ankle joint during the gait in circular paths.

In 2011 Evandro Ficanha completed his undergraduate degree as a mechanical engineer with a minor in Math at Michigan Tech. During his undergrad studies he worked at the Math Learning Center and did undergraduate research with different professors at the Mechanical Engineering Department. In his senior design project he helped to develop a hybrid electric bicycle to be used as an educational platform for teaching the technology concept in hybrid vehicles. Evandro received the “Outstanding Student Awards” for his senior design work. His current graduate research is focused on the development of powered ankle foot prosthetic robots capable of mimicking the mechanical properties of the human ankle. Also, he is a teaching assistant for Robotics and Mechatronics lab since 2012, where he has been continuously involved in reinvigorating the laboratory experiments and syllabus. In 2012, He received the “Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award” for his teachings efforts in the Robotics and Mechatronics lab.


MEEM Graduate Seminar: Space Engineering for the Department of Defense

The Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics Graduate Seminar; Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Room 112, ME-EM Bldg

Title: Space Engineering for the Department of Defense

“Space Engineering for the DoD: Designing and operating spacecraft for the Department of Defense is a different experience entirely than what is found in the more understood civil and commercial spacecraft engineering communities. Historical inertia, organizational bureaucracies, protection concerns, and stringent manufacturing standards all combine to complicate the acquisition of space systems for national security. This talk will present a brief history of DoD space, identify the mission classes DoD is tasked to provide for national security, and address loss of capabilities (as well as efforts to recapture) as a result of various acquisition reforms in the 90’s. The talk will conclude with an outlook for the way forward in DoD space as well as some recommendations for how US academia can interact with DoD to overcome some of these hurdles.”

Dr. Brandon “B.T.” Cesul is the Lead, Technical Assessments, Space Threat Assessment Cell assigned to the Office of Director of National Intelligence, as well as a Principal Intelligence Analyst in the Counterspace Analysis Squadron, National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. NASIC is the Air Force and Defense Department Center of Excellence for all-source air and space intelligence, and supports Air Force and joint operational, acquisition and policymaking customers at the national level. Dr. Cesul is currently responsible for supervising the production of national level threat baselines used by DoD and DNI space acquisition customers as well as overseeing the production of intelligence analysis products on foreign counterspace weapon systems. Dr. Cesul began his career as a Satellite Systems Engineer at NASIC in 2002 specializing in foreign intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) satellites, as well as supervising a research effort in estimating worldwide development of small satellite technologies. He served as Team Lead for Orbital ASAT analysis from 2007-2013. Dr Cesul has been a contributing author on three National Intelligence Estimates, and author of multiple studies and briefings. In addition to being a winner of the WPAFB Civilian of the Year-Category II, a 2-time winner of the NASIC Civilian of the Year, and a Commanders Award for Merit winner, and the Squadron Civilian of the Year Cat II and Cat III. Dr. Cesul was selected in the initial class of AFISRA’s Sensor Spotlight awardees. He received his Bachelor’s (with honors) and Master’s degree from the University of Michigan. While in Ann Arbor he was elected into Sigma Gamma Tau & Tau Beta Pi engineering honor societies, was a project manager for the ICARUS student satellite team, and a student director of the Student Space Systems Fabrication Laboratory (S3FL). He received his Ph.D. from the Air Force Institute of Technology.


Michigan Tech Students Win National Mining Competition

The National Mining Competition announced the three winners from the 2013 event. First place Michigan Tech, second place University of British Columbia, and third place Edwards School of Business.

The winning Michigan Tech Mining team, “the fabulous four,” was Cora Hemmila, Matthew Younger, Matthew Schuman and Matthew Schwalen. The team advisor is James Murray Gillis, Instructor, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Director, Mine Safety and Health Training Program. Continue reading


MEEM Graduate Seminar: Control and Sensing Co-Design for Maritime Robotic Sensor Networks

Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics Graduate Seminar; Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013; 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Room 112, ME-EM Bldg.
Professor Fumin Zhang, Electrical and Computer Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology
Title: Control and Sensing Co-Design for Maritime Robotic Sensor Networks

The Ocean is playing an ever more important role for the future of mankind. Larger variety of marine robots have been developed and commercialized during the last two decades. These robots may serve as networked mobile sensing platforms that are able to collect data in the maritime environment in unprecedented ways, which post higher goals for autonomy never achieved before. This talk introduces our recent contributions on a multidisciplinary investigation of autonomous collective foraging in a complex environment that explicitly integrates insights from biology with models and provable strategies from control theory. The methods are rigorously developed and tightly integrated with experimental effort.

Dr. Fumin Zhang is Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer
Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received a PhD degree in 2004 from the University of Maryland (College Park) in Electrical Engineering, and
held a postdoctoral position in Princeton University from 2004 to 2007. His research
interests include mobile sensor networks, maritime robotics, control systems, and theoretical foundations for cyber-physical systems. He received the NSF CAREER Award in September 2009, the Lockheed Inspirational Young Faculty Award in March 2010, the ONR Young Investigator Program Award in April 2010, and the GT Roger P. Webb Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in April 2011. He is currently serving as the co-chair for the IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Marine Robotics, and the chair for the IEEE CSS Technical Committee on Robotic Control and Manufacturing Automation.