Category: Research

Assistant Professor Hassan Masoud (ME-EM) awarded NSF CAREER grant

Hassan Masoud, PhD is Principal Investigator of the CFAM Lab. See https://www.masoud-lab.academy/ to learn more.

Hassan Masoud has been awarded the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award to study “Collective hydrodynamics of robotic swimmers and surfers at high Reynolds numbers”. Dr. Masoud received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and conducted post-doctoral research under the joint supervision of Howard Stone in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University and Michael Shelley at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, NYU. Since July 2017, he has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech.

CAREER awards, administered under the Faculty Early Career Development Program, are the NSF’s most prestigious form of support and recognition for junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” We congratulate Assistant Professor Hassan Masoud on this outstanding accomplishment!

Abstract: Robotic swarms have attracted much attention in recent years due to their vast potential applications. In particular, there has been a growing interest in aquatic robots, either swimming underwater or surfing at the air-water interface. By using large numbers of individuals working in tandem through local communication, a swarm of underwater swimmers or interfacial surfers can augment their collective intelligence while maintaining relatively simplistic designs. Harnessing this unique, joint ability leads to achieving superior functionalities, which makes aquatic robots very appealing for a myriad of practical applications, including surveillance, monitoring of invasive species, tracking weather and sea conditions, pollution management, etc. This project aims to obtain an in-depth understanding of many-body hydrodynamic interactions in the collective motion of robotic swimmers and surfers at high Reynolds numbers. The design of robots chosen for the studies is motivated by species in nature that have mastered their respective terrains. The swimmers mimic the general form of a fish, with the tail flapping providing the thrust, while the surfers take inspiration from water-walking insects. The investigations will be conducted using a synergistic application of high-fidelity numerical simulations and laboratory experiments. Validated simulations allow for exploring an extensive range of flow regimes and combinations of relative positions between the robots. Coupled with reinforcement learning algorithms, they also enable searching for optimal strategies for collective locomotion. The unsteady flows generated by the motion of robots in the experiments will be captured via time-resolved, volumetric particle tracking velocimetry. The fundamental knowledge gained during this project is expected to directly contribute to the design and implementation of future aquatic robots capable of functioning alongside each other with a high degree of coordination, similar to the behaviors exhibited by fish in schools and birds in flocks. The planned research studies in this project are coupled with a range of educational activities that involve outreach to middle and high school students, engagement with the general public, mentorship of community college and graduate students, and curriculum development.

Top Teams Advance in NASA’s Break the Ice Lunar Challenge

NASA named 15 teams moving on to compete in the semifinal level of its Break the Ice Lunar Challenge on December 14, 2022. The $3.5 million multi-phase challenge invites problem-solvers from businesses, academia, maker communities, and more to play a role in building a lasting human presence and vibrant economy on the Moon by tapping into resources that are already there.

The second phase of competition kicked off in June with the goal of furthering development of lunar excavation and transport technologies. Level 1 challenged solvers to design a robotic system for digging and moving large quantities of icy Moon “dirt,” or regolith, found in the coldest, darkest places on the lunar surface.

Phase 2, Level 1

Twenty-five teams from around the world submitted entries for the first, qualifying level of Phase 2 competition. A panel of government, industry, and academic experts in in-situ resource utilization, or ISRU – the technical term for using local resources – evaluated teams’ entries and selected the winners based on submissions of detailed technical reports, engineering designs, and test plans.

Michigan Tech’s Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab (PSTDL) was selected among the winning teams. The founder and director of PSTDL is Paul van Susante, assistant professor in mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics and faculty advisor for Multiplanetary INnovation Enterprise (MINE).

Read more at NASA.gov.

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NASA Announces Newest Winners in Break the Ice Lunar Challenge

NASA Announces Newest Winners in Break the Ice Lunar Challenge

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To the Moon—and Beyond

Jason Blough Receiving SAE International Lifetime Achievement Award

Jason Blough
Jason Blough

Jason Blough, interim chair and distinguished professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM), has been selected as the 2023 recipient of SAE International’s Ralph K. Hillquist NVH Lifetime Achievement Award.

Established by the Noise & Vibration Conference Committee, this award recognizes those individuals who have shown a continued contribution to ground vehicle voise, vibration and harshness (NVH) over a period of 15 years or more.

According to the award notification, Blough has “been instrumental in shaping the sound package material industry over the last 30 years, alongside unmatched dedication and commitment to industry and SAE.” He was nominated for the award by Darrell Robinette (ME-EM), associate professor.

Blough’s research includes dynamic measurement problems, developing new digital signal processing algorithms to understand NVH-type problems and ways to improve the NVH characteristics of virtually any machine. He routinely teaches many experimental NVH techniques in both classroom settings and industry short courses, and serves as the SAE Clean Snowmobile Team faculty advisor under Tech’s Advanced Motorsports Enterprise.

Formal recognition of the award will occur during the 2023 SAE Noise & Vibration Conference, being held May 15-18.

Congratulations to Dr. Blough on this significant achievement.

By Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Aneet Narendranath Selected as IAALDE VISTAS International Scholar

Aneet Narendranath
Aneet Narendranath

Associate Teaching Professor Aneet Narendranath (ME-EM) has been selected as one of nine international scholars for the International Alliance to Advance Learning in the Digital Era (IAALDE) VISTAS Colloquium Series.

In a first phase, IAALDE has called for ambitious midcareer researchers, pre-tenured or recently tenured, who are developing and implementing a long-range research vision (think: 5-10 years ahead) and are therefore interested in discussing their research vision with peers from multiple societies and different disciplinary backgrounds.

The goal of the VISTAS (Vision, Inspiration, Synergy, and Transformation Across Societies) Colloquium Series on Learning and Technologies Research is to create a discussion space where researchers can connect with one another to explore ideas across multiple disciplinary and society perspectives. It is envisioned to inspire transformative research and to improve our societies by better connecting researchers to one another and to cross-disciplinary ideas.

A graduate of Michigan Technological University, Narendranath’s teaching interests include classical mechanics, numerical methods for differential equations and symbolic solution packages. His research interests focus on numerical solutions and applications to engineering of nonlinear partial differential equations and low Reynolds Number fluid physics.

Congratulations to Narendranath on achieving this honor.

PhD Funded Student Position Available in Kai Zhou Lab

One PhD student position with full assistantship is available in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (MEEM) at Michigan Technological University. The student will work under Dr. Kai Zhou’s supervision.

The position will start in Spring 2023. It is available immediately and open until filled. The applicants must have a BS or MS degree in Mechanical Engineering with a particular emphasis on Structural Dynamics and Vibrations. The qualified applicant is expected to:

  1. Have the extensive experiences and strong skills in testbed set-up, experimental instrumentation and data acquisition.
  2. Demonstrate the capability in using FE simulation to perform both the linear and nonlinear structural dynamic analysis. It is a plus if the student has the experiences conducting other multi-physics FE simulations, e.g., electromechanical FE, fluid-structure coupled FE, thermal-structural coupled FE. The preferred software include: Abaqus, Ansys and COMSOL.
  3. Have the in-depth knowledge in signal processing, machine learning (especially deep learning), data analytics and optimization. Have the strong programing skill using MATLAB, Python to support the implementation. The knowledge of Fortran and LabVIEW is a plus.

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Kai Zhou (kzhou@mtu.edu) with your CV, transcripts.

PhD Funded Student Position Available in Automation in Smart Manufacturing

Michigan Technological University
Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Opportunity Summary

Dr. Vinh Nguyen is seeking applications for 2 PhD students in automation for smart manufacturing. The students will receive full tuition coverage and stipend support. Students will be investigating technologies to facilitate human-automation systems in the context of Industry 4.0 and develop machine learning solutions to address real-world manufacturing problems. Students will have hands-on experience working on a variety of manufacturing processes including robotic assembly, machining, and additive manufacturing. Furthermore, students will also have the opportunity to work with advanced robotic tools including AR/VR and motion capture systems.

Dr. Nguyen is an Assistant Professor under the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University. Dr. Nguyen’s collaborators include industry, federal government agencies, and other academic universities.

Required Background

  • Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, or other related fields.
  • Experience in programming industrial automation (industrial robots, embedded hardware, PLC’s, etc.) and familiarity with manufacturing processes including machining and additive manufacturing.
  • Hands-on experience with wearables technologies, machine learning, and human-robot interaction is a plus but not required.
  • Strong communication and technical writing skills for presentation of work to collaborators and sponsors.

Desired Background

Candidates should demonstrate at least one of the following strengths:

  • Experience with robotics and controls
  • Experience with manufacturing processes
  • Experience with machine learning models

How to Apply

Interested candidates should send their CV (1–2 pages) to vinhn@mtu.edu.

PSTDL Advances in NASA Watts on the Moon Challenge

Assistant Professor Paul van Susante (ME-EM/MARC) and the Planetary Surface Technology Development (PSTDL) Lab, aka HuskyWorks, are one of seven teams advancing to Phase 2, Level 2 of NASA’s Watts on the Moon Challenge.

The advancement comes with a $200,000 award, building on the team’s previous Phase 2, Level 1 award of $100,000, and supports NASA’s Artemis I mission, the first in a series designed to enable sustainable human exploration of the moon and Mars.

Winners of the first stage of the challenge were eligible to compete for the second phase’s design competition, submitting technical documentation for their solutions. The seven winning teams will move on to compete for additional funding in Phase 2, Level 2.

“It’s really exciting because we’re developing new technology that will enable continuous human presence on the lunar surface,” noted Rob Button, deputy chief of the Power Division at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. “Specifically, we’re addressing long distance power transmission and energy storage in very cold conditions.” 

Van Susante designed and leads HuskyWorks’ research facilities, one of eight academic facilities listed on NASA’s ARES Dust Testing Facilities webpage. The central piece of the PSTDL is a custom-built rectangular Dusty Thermal Vacuum chamber (DTVAC) that can be cooled as low as minus 196°C and heated as high as 150°C, reach a vacuum of 10-6 Torr (10-4 Torr with simulant) and contain a box with up to 3,000 pounds of regolith simulant. For more details on the lab’s capabilities, visit the PSTDL’s Facilities page.

By Donna Jeno-Amici, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

PhD Funded Student Position Available in Marine Renewable Energy

Michigan Technological University
Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Opportunity Summary

Seeking applications for 2 PhDs student in the area of marine renewable energy (e.g., offshore wind, wave) and control (or machine learning). The students will receive full financial support including a stipend and tuition coverage. The candidate will be working with the research group lead by Dr. Shangyan Zou investigating the modeling, control, networking, and swarm behavior of marine renewable energy systems to improve the economic index of marine renewables. In addition to the theoretical and numerical development, the candidate will also have opportunities to gain hands-on experience by working with the wave tank at Michigan Technological University. Furthermore, the candidate also will have the opportunity to work in Lake Superior and conduct experiments in the lake with the Research Vessel. You can expect a very productive working environment as well as a very effective personal mentorship from the PI in addition to academic support.

In general, the candidate will be responsible for supporting the initiative and contributing to the research projects through literature review, mathematical modeling, experimental testing, data organization, data collection, data analysis, preparing for research presentations, preparing manuscripts for journal submission, and other research-related duties as assigned.

Dr. Zou’s lab is in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech. We have an interdisciplinary collaboration with universities (e.g., Oregon State University), national labs (e.g., National Renewable Energy Laboratory), and industries (e.g., OscillaPower) which will be a great opportunity for the candidate to work with people from a diverse background.

Why Should You Apply

Dr. Zou’s lab seeks highly motivated, honest, self-driven individuals from a variety of backgrounds in our investigations. The research questions that we are trying to address including:

  • How to develop/apply new controls (as well as machine learning techniques) to improve the performance (optimality and robustness) of ocean renewable energy systems?
  • What is a good model to describe the behavior of Wave Energy Converters (both rigid body or deformable body) which is computationally efficient and has a good agreement with the experiments?
  • Can we use wave power for small non-grid applications (e.g., water desalination, UUV charging, oceanographic measurements)?
  • How can we introduce multi-agent system techniques to optimize the performance of a swarm of ocean renewable energy systems (as well as other devices like UUVs)?

If any of the research questions excite you, please reach out!

Required Background

  • MS (preferred) or BS in Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering or other related fields
  • Solid programming skills and some hands-on experience (e.g., 3-D printing, hardware communications). Hands-on experience with robotics or wave tank will be a plus but not necessary.
  • Introductory background in dynamic systems and control, fluid mechanics. Deep background of Fluid Mechanics will be a plus but not necessary.
  • Strong communication skills and used to a teamwork environment
  • Solid writing skills and experience with presentation or article writing

Desired Background

Candidates should demonstrate at least one of the following strengths:

  • Experience with modeling and control of ocean renewable energy systems (e.g., ocean wave, offshore wind)
  • Experience with wave tank testing, hardware communication, or sensor measurements
  • Experience with fluid-structure interaction
  • Experience with control theory, state estimation, or multi-agent systems
  • Experience with robotics (both numerical and experimental)

How to Apply

Send your CV and a brief statement of interest (1–2 pages) to shangyan@mtu.edu. In your statement of interest, please clearly highlight your strengths as one (or more) of the listed items. In addition, please send your application with the subject line: “Applying for PhD student position on marine renewables”.

Ana Dyreson is an ISR Faculty Research Fellow

Ana Dyreson
Ana Dyreson

The Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability and Resilience (ISR) is happy to announce the selection of two Sustainable and Resilient Communities Faculty Research Fellows!

Judith Perlinger is a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE) and an established scholar working in the realm of sustainability and resilience.

Ana Dyreson is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM) who works in the realm of energy systems transitions and the energy-water-climate nexus.

Perlinger and Dyreson will both be relieved of one course for the fall 2022 semester in order to focus on developing and submitting research funding proposals that will enhance Michigan Tech’s leadership in impactful sustainability and resilience research.

Perlinger will be working on new proposals for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Coastlines and People (CoPe) program, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Dyreson will be working on proposal submissions for NSF programs, including the NSF CAREER award program, and for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

With this fellowship program, ISR aims to support researchers in developing new collaborations and opportunities to grow research activities that address contemporary research challenges in sustainability and resilience. This program will propel research leaders at Michigan Tech to pursue new opportunities and increase impactful research activities. ISR is delighted to support these dedicated scholars through the Faculty Research Fellows program.

For more information or with any questions, please contact Chelsea Schelly at cschelly@mtu.edu

By Tech Forward Initiative for Sustainability and Resilience.

Pandemic Research and Scholarship Impact Mitigation Grants

Susanta Ghosh
Susanta Ghosh
Trisha Sain
Trisha Sain

The ADVANCE Initiative, Provost’s Office, Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Vice President for Research Office and University Marketing and Communications have been working together over the past year to identify and begin to mitigate some of the ways that scholars, creators and researchers have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. This collaboration resulted in a session to learn specific impacts and discuss solutions.

One of the primary results of our joint work is the COVID impact statement document faculty are requested to develop and add to Digital Measures. This group has also solicited and published an ongoing Unscripted research blog series where Tech employees share how the pandemic impacted their work. In addition, the VPR office recently solicited and received proposals for funding to help mitigate financial losses to research, creative and scholarly work associated with the pandemic. Many individuals experienced significant negative impacts and applied for the funds. Unfortunately, we were unable to fund them all.

The following individuals in the College of Engineering were selected to receive one of these grants:

  • Susanta Ghosh (ME-EM)
  • Trisha Sain (ME-EM)

By Associate Vice President for Research Development.