Tuesday, 29 of July of 2014

Category » Mechanical Engineering

Tufts University Alumni Association 2014 Senior Award Honorees

Each year, the Tufts University Alumni Association (TUAA) recognizes members of the senior class for academic achievement, participation in campus and community activities, and leadership. Twelve students are chosen from a pool of nominees for the TUAA Senior Award. This year’s cohort of Senior Award Honorees includes two engineering students: Briana Bouchard and Laura Burns.

Briana BouchardBriana Bouchard will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. Bouchard served as Corporate Relations Chair and Publicity Chair for Tufts Society for Women Engineers, Tufts Admissions Tour Guide and Engineering Panelist, Senior Representative and Academic Chair for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Residential Assistant for Tufts University Office of Residential Life. As a researcher, she designed a medical device to assist in the insertion of IV catheters in babies and children, was part of a team that designed an award winning audio speaker, and has researched the use of silk for breast implants for women who have had mastectomies.


Laura BurnsLaura Burns will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering. At Tufts, Burns was a Stern Family Scholar, was on the Dean’s List all semesters, a member of Tau Beta Pi (Engineering National Honor Society), President and Board Member of the Tufts University Engineering Student Council, Secretary and Board Member for Tufts University Society for Women Engineers, Captain of the Varsity Swim Team, and a volunteer at Tufts University Admissions Office. Burns was a research assistant in Assistant Professor Lauren Black’s Lab, where she worked with tissue engineering of cardiac tissue and design of an optical device to measure the thickness of delicate tissues.


Proof of Concept Robotic Programming Lends A Stress-Free Hand

Summer Scholar Chris Shinn, E15, hopes to reduce musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace through human-robot interaction.

The intended application is in diagnostic laboratories to reduce repetitive motion injuries. Currently lab techs must open and close hundreds of jars every day. Every year thousands of man-hours are lost due to such injuries, and costing employers and employees alike millions of dollars. While there’s plenty of room for improving the speed, Shinn’s work demonstrates a proof of concept for human-friendly robots such as Baxter to use tools to extend their utility and to integrate them into the work flow of laboratories and similar workplaces.

This video from Chris Shinn in the Human Factors program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering shows ongoing research with the Baxter robot. Located in the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO), Baxter opens and closes a specimen jar using a tool to overcome positioning uncertainty in its “hands.” Another special adapter on the other hand is employed to operate a pipette.


Entrepreneurial Engineers Design Water-Saving, Color-Changing Shower head

Engineers Brett Andler, E13, Joo Kang, A13, Sam Woolf, E13, and Tyler Wilson, E13, designed a water-saving, color-changing showerhead.

The recent graduates worked on their project, Uji, as part of their senior capstone thesis with Senior Lecturer Gary Leisk. The Uji team members were winners in the 2013 $100K business plan competition hosted by Tufts Gordon Institute.

The shower turns from green to red after seven minutes of use. In initial reports submitted to the School of Engineering, the team determined that, on average the Uji showerhead, will shorten shower times by over 10 percent. This estimate is now being reported as a 12 percent decrease.

The team and the technology was featured on National Public Radio’s weekly innovation blog  “All Tech Considered”  and was subsequently featured by FastCompany, and USA Today.

The team is now piloting the technology on university campuses. The Uji website claims that Uji showerheads count as low flow showerheads enabling universities to earn LEED green credits toward certification.

Follow Uji on Twitter (@UjiShower) to keep up with the team.


Team Hoyt Recognized at ESPYs

The father-and-son team of Dick Hoyt and Rick Hoyt–Team Hoyt–was recognized at ESPN’s awards event called the ESPYs on July 17, 2013.

Rick, now 51, was born with cerebral palsy and though unable to use his hands or legs he and his 73-year-old father have run in more than 1,000 endurance events—including triathlons and marathons—with Dick pushing his son in a custom-made running chair.

In 1972, Tufts engineers gave Rick his first ability to communicate with his family. Engineers built Rick an interactive computer he used to select letters by tapping his head against his wheelchair.

At the ESPYs, ESPN recognized Team Hoyt with their Jimmy V Perseverance Award, given to a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination.


By Hook or By Crook

Incoming Assistant Professor Jeff Guasto (Ph.D., Brown University) has been working on understanding how single-celled organisms, like bacteria, get around. Guasto, a postdoctoral researcher in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and his colleagues have been studying how microbes, such as marine bacteria, use their flagella to propel themselves forward, backward, and change direction. Researchers had observed the marine bacteria changing direction using a flicking motion of the flagellum, but they didn’t understand how it was happening.

Motile marine bacteria exploit a buckling instability of the flexible hook (green) at the base of their flagellum (yellow) to change swimming direction, turning what is otherwise a structural failure into a fundamental biological function. GRAPHIC: KWANGMIN SON, JEFFREY GUASTO, GLYNN GORICK AND ROMAN STOCKER

Using high-speed video shot a 1,000 frames per second, the MIT team was able to record the flicking motion of bacteria swimming forward. They determined that the flick occurs when the “hook,” a small flexible rod connecting the flagellum to the cell’s internal motor, buckles.

“A single actuator, the flagellum, enables both propulsion and turning in these bacteria,” Guasto says. “This is a well-known principle in robotics called ‘underactuation,’ but it is rarely considered at the micrometer scale.”

“The mechanism of turning by buckling represents one of the smallest examples in nature of a biological function stemming from controlled mechanical failure and reveals a new role for flexibility in biological materials, which could inspire new microrobotic solutions in medicine and engineering,” the authors say in their July 7 paper in Nature Physics. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nphys2676