Though my focus in graduate school is robotics and controls, during my undergraduate studies I focused on electro-mechanical system design. Here is a collection of some of the mechatronic design projects participated in then:
Humanoid Robotics Project
While an intern at Touchstone 3D, I became involved with a humanoid robotics project hosted by the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers. The ultimate goal of the ENCS Humanoid Robotics Project was to develop a robot that the average person could not distinguish from a real person. Most of the project founders were programmers, so I was brought on as the mechatronics engineer to do the the physical design and fabrication of the first prototype of this humanoid robot. This task meant I was responsible for building a prototype robot that had ability to see, hear, speak, and move his neck and eyes.
KEN was the first generation robot the team worked on. KEN’s capabilities include an articulated neck, 3D printed, realistically articulated eyes with embedded cameras, a speaker, a microphone, compartments for all computers and connectivity devices, and a realistic appearance. He had the ability to detects faces and could learn to recognize the people he met.
When I was brought on to help out with the project, the team was in a time-crunch trying to prepare a first generation robot for a robotics conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. In order to quickly bring the humanoid robot from ideation to fabrication, I relied on the flexible and iterative design process I learned at Touchstone 3D, as well as leveraging their extensive capabilities as a rapid prototyping company.
KEN is currently being shown at various robotics conferences, campus events, and seminars as an educational tool and to draw interest to the project and get people excited about building a second generation robot. KEN is a platform for robotic engineering discovery and development.
As an intern at 219 Design, I was tasked with the complete redesign of a handheld electronic device used in an industrial setting. Previous versions of the product were time-consuming to assemble and nearly impossible to disassemble if something went wrong. In addition, the manufacturing method for the enclosure was outdated and needed to be completely rethought.
Rethinking the way that the device would be fabricated and assembled meant that I needed to do a complete overhaul of the enclosure and electronic design of the product. This included sourcing and ordering new parts, designing a new PCB in Altium Designer, designing a new enclosure in SolidWorks, and communicating with PCB manufacturing houses and enclosure manufacturers to bring the device from a concept to a turnkey product.
I ended up with a turnkey product that was 68% quicker to assemble, easy to disassemble if necessary, and with upgraded ascetics as an added bonus.
While studying abroad at the Polytecnic University of Turin I participated in a 3-person team to research, design and prototype an intelligent automated gardening system called Smart Gardener. The system used a combination of sensor data, weather forecast data gathered from the internet, and learned from its previous actions to automatically supply the optimal amount of water and light to a garden. This project was developed as a part of the Ambient Intelligence course.
Smart Gardener’s decision-making algorithms use a wide range of information to determine the best course of action: by using weather forecasts, current weather, status of plants, and learning from it’s previous actions, the system is able to make the best decision possible to efficiently and effectively water your plants.
Click-Pen Flashdrive Case
While working at Touchstone 3D, I was tasked with creating a product that would showcase their mechanical design capabilities and their flexible design process. I ended up designing and prototyping a click-pen style flash drive prototype case by taking advantage of their high resolution industrial printing capabilities. The Click-Pen Flashdrive design is owned by Touchstone 3D (Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved).
For my Honors Capstone Project I worked with Dr. Larry Silverberg, the Director of Undergraduate Programs at the Mechanical Engineering department at NCSU, to develop a new undergraduate level course in Mechatronics. Lab assignments and supplemental videos were organized and produced, in addition to grading materials for TAs, parts lists, and completed labs.
Once the course itself was ready for implementation, I worked on designing and fabricating a mechatronic system in order to give potential students a quick visualization of what is possible with mechatronics. The system that I came up with was an interactive music playing system and dancing robot that groups of students can control to create their own collaborative musical experience. The hope was that by providing a fun and interactive experience to undergraduate students, attention would be drawn to the Introduction to Mechatronics course.
- Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning
- Falling asleep with the room light on while reading
To solve these issues I came up with a custom Alarm Light system. This wall mounted clock/light device could be easily controlled from my bed, and had two main features:
- The user (me) could set a morning alarm, which would cause an array of bright LEDs above my bed to turn on at that time, helping force me out of bed in the morning.
- The user could set a delay, which would turn on the array of LEDs for a specified amount of time. This meant if I fell asleep while reading a book, the lights would automatically turn off on their own after the chosen amount of time. In addition, the lights would blink on a off a minute before they would turn off completely to warn the user that if they wanted to keep reading they needed to add time to the light delay.