Category Archives: Research

Smithsonian on Michigan Tech’s NASA Space Research Institute

Air and Space August 2017Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine published a feature article about Michigan Tech’s new NASA Space Research Institute, headed by Greg Odegard (ME-EM). The institute will work on using carbon nanotubes to create a composite that is lighter and stronger than any material used in load-bearing structures today.

Strong Stuff

These students are designing materials tough enough to land on another planet.

The project, called the Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP), is led by Michigan Technological University professor Greg Odegard, who assembled the 11-university team of experts in computational mechanics and materials science. The problem NASA has set for them to solve: Use carbon nanotubes to create a composite that is lighter and stronger than any material used in load-bearing structures today. Odegard says high-powered computers at his university and others are the key to success.

Will Pisani is in his first year of work toward his Ph.D. at Michigan Tech, and he’s already started some of the computational modeling the institute will use.

Using molecular dynamics, Matt Radue, who is just about to receive his Ph.D. from Michigan Tech, has created models to simulate the formation or breakage of chemical bonds between atoms; he calculates, by programming Newton’s laws of motion into the models, the velocities and accelerations of the atoms under different conditions, such as changes in temperature.

Julie Tomasi loves it when the materials in the lab behave the way the computer models predict. Tomasi, also pursuing a Ph.D. at Michigan Tech, has tested the mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties of epoxy with various embedded fillers, such as graphene (a carbon particle lattice).

Read more at Smithsonian Air & Space, by Linda Shiner.


Paul van Susante on Space Mining for Rocket Fuel

Paul van Susante
Paul van Susante

Sending humans to Mars involves deep space missions that could last months, but shipping material there is costly; the price of transporting 1kg on Earth increases by a factor of 100 on a Martian mission. If the ultimate goal is to establish a long-term base on Mars, we’ll need make use of materials found on humanity’s greatest ever voyage.

Nasa has a target to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. Since 2012, the space agency has dedicated a branch of its research to what it calls In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU), with researchers working to find the best ways to produce one of the most crucial resources for space travel – rocket fuel.

Paul van Susante, senior lecturer in engineering at Michigan Tech University, has studied how to mine these resources on our neighbouring planet.

Space mining, on any target or destination such as asteroids, moon or Mars, provides leverage.Paul van Susante

Read more at Wired (UK), by Abigail Beall.


NASA Funding for Greg Odegard

Greg Odegard
Greg Odegard

Greg Odegard (MEEM) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $1,000,000 research and development grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Ravi Pandey (Physics), Julia King (ChE) and Trisha Sain (MEEM) are Co-Pis on the project titled “Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP).”

This is the first year of a five-year project potential totaling $14,999,995.

Air and Space Smithsonian August 2017Strong Stuff

These students are designing materials tough enough to land on another planet.

The spacecraft that will one day land humans on Mars will be made of a material that has not yet been invented. Ditto for the rocket that sends them there. But at the end of a $15 million, five-year NASA project set to begin next month, an advanced, high-performance composite will be invented, and it may be the very material used to build those spacecraft. The people inventing it are Ph.D. candidates and other students at 11 universities, all working together.

The project, called the Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP), is led by Michigan Technological University professor Greg Odegard, who assembled the 11-university team of experts in computational mechanics and materials science. The problem NASA has set for them to solve: Use carbon nanotubes to create a composite that is lighter and stronger than any material used in load-bearing structures today. Odegard says high-powered computers at his university and others are the key to success.

Read more at Air & Space Smithsonian, by Linda Shiner.


Tech Students Awarded at Noise Control Conferences

NOISE-CON 2017

A total of 14 Michigan Tech students, 13 graduate students and one undergrad, are in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the joint SAE Noise and Vibration Conference and the Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA (NOISE-CON 2017). They are students of Jason Blough (ME-EM) and Andrew Barnard (ME-EM).

On Wednesday, Michigan Tech students won 11 awards between the two conferences:

  • SAE NVC Best Student Paper—First place: Troy Bouman, Second Place: Mahsa Asgarisabet
  • INCE-USA NoiseCon Best Student Paper—Micaela Theiry and Trinoy Dutta
  • INCE-USA Hallberg Foundation Travel Award—Theiry, Miles Penhale, Siddharth Parmar, Suraj Prabhu and Asgarisabet
  • Beranek Gold Medal for Excellence in the Study of Noise Control Engineering for an Undergraduate Student—Stephania Vaglica
  • Beranek Pewter Medal for Excellence in the Study of Noise Control Engineering for a Graduate Student—Asgarisabet

The students also had a booth in the expo where they showed off some of their work and it was busy with visitors for two straight days.

By Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

The event took place on June 12-14, 2017.


Robotic Ankle Research in Orthopedic Design & Technology

Robotic AnkleResearchers are developing an artificial vision system that can enable a robotic ankle to see where it is going to improve the wearer’s gait.

Mo Rastgaar, a Michigan Technological University mechanical engineer and his team have already developed a prototype of the prosthetic ankle that can provide a range of motion that rivals a natural gait. Next, they aim to give their robotic ankle something different: eyes.

The camera can identify the profile of the ground, while the computer knows where the next footstep will be, based on how the user is moving the leg. Mo Rastgaar

Read more at Orthopedic Design & Technology.

Related stories:

HIRoLab Featured in National Biomechanics Day Outreach

The Better to See You With: Prosthetic Leg Would Keep an Eye on the Path Ahead

Rastgaar Receives CAREER Award to Develop Ankle-Foot Prosthetic Robot


Future Transmission Development by Darrell Robinette

Triple ClutchUK Car Magazine, a European car enthusiast magazine and Lubrizol Additives 360, an online driveline news organization, have published articles featuring a new automatic transmission design developed by Darrell Robinette(ME-EM). The new transmission design was developed during his time at General Motors and was presented at CTI Ttransmission Symposium in Berlin, Germany last December. The articles can be found here and here.

Future engines will have more torque at low(er) engine speeds. It’s part of our job when designing transmissions to maximize that efficiency but, also, to ensure a pleasurable driving experience.Darrell Robinette


John Johnson Award for Outstanding Research in Diesel Engines

John H. Johnson
John H. Johnson

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and other news outlets around the country reported on the winners of the John Johnson Award for Outstanding Research in Diesel Engines.

The award is funded through contributions from John H. Johnson (ME-EM), his colleagues and former students. Johnson is a Presidential Professor with Michigan Tech’s Department of Mechanical-Engineering Mechanics, a fellow of SAE International and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is a renowned expert in the field of diesel engines.

See the full story here.


Water Drones for Rescuing Swimmers

SENSEThe Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on a two-day conference on new life-saving technologies for the Great Lakes. One of the demonstrations was by Michigan Tech, where the SENSE Enterprise team and Andrew Barnard (ME-EM) are developing drones to help save people who are drowning. Read the story here.

The story was also picked up by the Detroit Free Press and the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune.

With Great Lakes drownings spiking, rescuers look to education, technology

Michigan Tech students are working on a drone that can be used as a life raft, cheap and affordable enough that they can be kept at popular swimming beaches or in squad car trunks and used very quickly.

“It’s like a mechanized life ring,” said Andrew Barnard, leader of the SENSE Enterprise Team at Michigan Tech. “If you’ve got someone 100 yards offshore, it takes away the danger of swimming out to them or the time it takes to get a boat. A life ring can only be thrown maybe 25 yards and if it’s windy it’s hard to get the life ring to the person.”

The Michigan Tech water drone prototype, which students dubbed Nautical Emergency Rescue Drone (NERD), uses plastic PVC piping, low-cost remote vehicle propellers and the same controls used for remote-controlled planes and boats.

Read more at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, by Meg Jones.

2017 Ford College Community Challenge Top 20 – Michigan Technological University (SENSE Enterprise)

Michigan Tech students’ work with Strategic Education through Naval Systems Experiences Enterprise is underway benchmarking existing rescue methods, technologies to define a cost effective system; testing concept stages and initial prototype.

Read more and watch the video at Ford Blue Oval Network.



Heat Treatment Market Trends in Experiments for Future Engineers

Chang Kyoung Choi
Principal Investigator Chang Kyoung Choi

Boston Commons, a science and technology news website, published an article about experiments for future engineers, citing among others Michigan Tech’s economic sustainability study looking at the economic demographic of the area to determine if it will support mines production rates now and in the future. Tech’s study will provide future market trends and comprehensive technology analysis on heat treatment.

The article cited current work by Chang Choi and Jeffrey Allen on “Technical Survey on High Efficient Intensive Cooling Control Technology.”