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School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Modeling, Motion, and Medical Robotics Laboratory (M3 Robotics Lab)

Outreach event hosted by M3 robotics Robotics Lab

An outreach event arranged by The Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) is hosted by M3 robotics Lab on March 2020.

In this event, kids are become familiarized with research going on in our lab such as steerable needles, soft robotics and Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs). They had the chance to do their own experiment with a worm made of Shape Memory Alloy.

M3 robotics lab is directed by Prof. John P. Swensen, and graduate students Mahdieh Babaiasl, Fan Yang, Emily Allen, Lee Taylor, and Benjamin Saunders are working on different projects related to soft robotics and medical robotics.

Enjoy some of the photos and videos of the event:


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Soft Robotics Education Outreach – Design of a soft robotic hand

M3 robotic lab members Emily Allen, and Lee Taylor, two Mechanical Engineering Students, have developed learning modules to introduce students of all ages to topics of design, fabrication, and evaluation of soft and tunably compliant robotics. Preliminary design of soft robotic hand featuring multiple smart materials and tendon driven actuation for learning module is shown below.

High school students visit M3 robotics lab

On Wednesday morning, M3 robotics lab was host to visiting high school students. The aim of this visit was to grab the attention of the kids to areas such as Engineering and Robotics ad encourage them to think about engineering as their future majors and later as careers.

Professor Swensen started off with asking who is actually interested in robotics to see how many of them will change their minds at the end of the day. He continues with an introduction to robotics and grabbed the attention of the kids with introducing movies such as I-Robot and then mentioned some of the real-life robots such as Darpa robot. He continues by mentioning human-robot interaction and why is it important to incorporate safety in robots because the robots will interact with human beings. Another topic that was brought up in the introduction was the aging society and how it puts burden on people in terms of taking care of senior citizens. He brought of the notion of assistive robotics that can help this aging population.

The second part of the visit was the introduction of the research that was going on in the lab. The kids became acquainted with steerable needles and soft robotics. They also became acquainted with two notions of “plastic” and “elastic” and at the end of the visit they could distinguish the difference between the two. They observed a tendon mimicking robot that bends when heated and the students experienced its function with their own fingers. the kids also became acquainted with Nitinol needles and that they are made out of Nickel and Titanium.

The last part of the visit was working on an inchworm robot that was printed in 3D printer and the kids put a metal on it and heated it either using a hot tool or moving electrical current through the metal part. The heat made the worm bend and when there was no heat the worm was back to its original shape causing it to move. At this part, they were really engaged in the process and was absorbed in making the inchworm work.