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Cranking up the power setting may help some who use prosthetics

Amputees who use powered prosthetic ankles may be able to avoid the energetic costs typically associated with prosthetics by cranking up the power provided by their devices.

A UCF engineering professor recently published a study in Scientific Reports that shows that people with transtibial amputations—the loss of a limb below the knee—may improve their walking ability if they change the power-setting on their devices. Hwan Choi, who received his doctorate in engineering from the University of Washington, is an assistant professor in the UCF department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, approximately 185,000 amputations occur in the United States every year and 49-95% of lower-limb amputees reportedly use a prosthesis. Most of those on the market are passive prosthetics. On average, amputees spend up to 30% more energy than unimpaired individuals when performing tasks such as walking. This could be due to the fact that most ankle prostheses are passive-elastic, meaning that they can store and release energy when they come in contact with the ground but are unable to perform positive net ankle work that allows for muscle shortening contractions to occur. In fact, these prostheses are only able to provide one eighth of the power of the intact gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, the key muscles that support and propel the body during walking.

As passive prostheses increase the energetic demand on the user, individuals may have to compensate by increasing muscular effort in the residual or intact limb. Powered ankle prostheses, on the other hand, use actuators to reduce the increased metabolic costs placed on amputees by delivering positive work. BiOM (now known as EMPOWER), the only commercially available powered ankle prosthetic, uses a visual display that allows the wearer to tune the power setting on the device. Ideally, they would select a power setting between 0% and 100% that best approximates that of a healthy ankle at the user’s preferred walking speed. But the question remains: how much power should the prosthesis provide?

Read the full story at phys.org.

2018-11-14T17:26:55+00:00 November 14th, 2018|Categories: News, Uncategorized|

Aerospace Professor Featured in Chevron’s Thank Your Role Model Commercial

With two young kids to take care of and a husband 9,500 miles away in Singapore, graduate school was nothing less than chaotic for Seetha Raghavan. She was pursuing her doctoral degree at Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics after spending eight years working in the industry. While her heart was leading her down the road of research and academia, her mind was telling her to get through her studies – and get back to normal life – as quickly as possible.

Thankfully, the voice of her advisor, Professor P.K. Imbrie, spoke loudest of all with words of support, guidance and encouragement. He taught her to slow down, have patience, and to put the quality of her work ahead of the urge to complete her degree.

If you’ve caught the latest Chevron commercial on TV, you’ve seen Raghavan, now an associate professor within the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, thanking Imbrie for telling her “You’ve got this.” Raghavan is one of several women in STEM featured in the commercial for Chevron’s Thank Your Role Model campaign, which celebrates the role models who have inspired women to seek careers in science, technology, engineering or math.

“P.K. taught me all about what it takes to be a good researcher: independent thinking, the ability to adapt when things don’t work out the way you imagined (and believe me they often don’t), planning and organizing before executing experiments as well as perseverance,” Raghavan said. “He often told me about his own stories as a graduate student so I could relate.”

Imbrie, now the head of the engineering education department at the University of Cincinnati, can also be seen in the commercial. He’s the “doer behind the doer” in the picture with Raghavan during her grad school days.

Within the field of engineering education, Imbrie is well-known. As his teaching assistant, Raghavan picked up some his techniques to train future engineers – techniques that she now uses in her classroom.

“I was really lucky to have such a great role model,” Raghavan said. “P.K. was, and continues to be, such a great source of encouragement and…he never lets his students go hungry! As a professor, I constantly strive to be like him and pay it forward.”

The mentee has certainly become a mentor to many aerospace engineering students at UCF. In the 10 years that she has been with the university, nine students from her research lab have been awarded Fulbright or National Science Foundation fellowships. Many others have conducted graduate-level research with or have been hired by top companies in the aerospace industry.

Having faced her share of struggles as a woman in a STEM-related field, Raghavan said she draws inspiration from the stories of the “real” people around her who have successfully overcome similar obstacles. In turn, she strives to be that real person when advising her students.

“I try to be one of those ‘real’ people to everyone else just by being accessible to my students and by being candid in my role as an advisor. I am never hesitant to share my mistakes or failures along the path I took to build success – we grow the most from failures,” Raghavan said. “I constantly challenge my students to reach higher than what they think they are capable of.”

Raghavan said that she is more than willing to provide mentorship and guidance to students because she wants them to take advantage of the opportunities that STEM has to offer. She has shared her story on the website EngineerGirl, a service of the National Academy of Engineering sponsored by Chevron, and has connected with many young girls around the world who have asked her questions about STEM.

When looking for women to feature in their “Thank Your Role Model” campaign, Chevron found Raghavan’s story on EngineerGirl and wanted to know more about her. They reached out to her, and they rest is now TV history.

Now, when young girls look to her for support, guidance and encouragement, she tells them “You’ve got this.”

“Whenever you hit a roadblock, use it to push yourself harder and you will find yourself coming out stronger and more confident to meet challenges you will face in future,” Raghavan said. “Look around you for inspiration – role models are there to show you that success often comes only after overcoming failures and that we are no different – we can get there too.”

Visit thankyourrolemodel.com to view Raghavan’s full video, to send a thank-you card to your role model, or to upload your own 15-second video thanking those who inspired you.

2018-11-08T11:03:39+00:00 November 8th, 2018|Categories: News|

Albert Manero Makes Orlando Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 List

Albert Manero, the founder of Limbitless Solutions, has been named one of Central Florida’s 40 Under 40 by the Orlando Business Journal. The award distinguishes remarkable young professionals under the age of 40 who are making a difference in the community.

Manero is a three-time graduate of the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science, having earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. He is the president of Limbitless Solutions, a nonprofit that specializes in creating 3D printed bionic arms that are functional, expressive and completely free of charge. Manero started 3D printing arms as an experiment for 6-year-old Alex Pring, who was born without most of his right arm. Limbitless Solutions now has a goal to deliver 5,000 bionic arms by 2020.

The UCF alum is not the only Knight on the list. He’s joined by Milke Kilbride, the assistant vice president of UCF Downtown.

2018-11-07T16:50:52+00:00 November 7th, 2018|Categories: News|

UCF Program Remains Nation’s No. 1 Aerospace, Defense Workforce Supplier

UCF’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Program was named the nation’s No. 1 workforce supplier to the aerospace and defense industry for the third year in a row, according to a research study by Aviation Week.

“We have students graduating and going to work at some of the top engineering workforces in the country,” said Yoav Peles, chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. “We have students working at Lockheed Martin, Siemens, the Kennedy Space Center, all over the place.”

The UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering program, which began in 1968, has received national praise on several occasions. The program was designated as a “highest research activity” institution by the Carnegie Foundation and one of the “most innovative” universities by U.S. News and World Report, according to a 2018 College of Engineering and Computer Science fact sheet. The program also ranked in the nation’s top 25 for number of U.S. patents secured by the National Academy of Inventors.

Director of the Aerospace Program Seetha Raghavan has watched the program evolve throughout her time at UCF.

“It’s exciting because there has been so much growth since I’ve been here 10 years ago,” Raghavan said. “So I think in the past 50 years we’ve come so far, and we’ve come so far so fast. There’s always something new that’s happening here.”

The program has more than 11,000 students enrolled and has conferred more than 36,000 degrees since fall 2017, according to the fact sheet.

“In the program over the last few years, we have increased in new faculty, young talent and a lot of enthusiasm,” Raghavan said. “While our student numbers grow, our faculty makes sure that we continue to be innovative in the ways we make these students feel more engaged and involved.”

Minh-Chau Le, UCF senior mechanical engineering major, is involved in several organizations with the engineering program. Through the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and the organizations she’s in, Le said she’s been exposed to diverse, hands-on experience.

A few of Le’s endeavors include a research study in which she developed biomaterials for tissue engineering and cancer research, spending two summers at Harvard University designing implantable medical devices to treat ear infections.

She also participated in the Lockheed Martin College Work Experience, where the global security and aerospace company provides UCF students with a year-long paid opportunity to train in their field while using “cutting edge technology.”

“The engineering program at UCF really emphasizes students getting hands-on experience, whether that be through undergraduate research, internships or student clubs,” Le said. “The most recent opportunity that the UCF engineering program has given me is the chance to pitch my own senior design project.”

While Le’s senior design project has not officially started yet, her proposed pitch is a robotics rehabilitation device for stroke patients regaining their hand mobility.

“At many schools and in many cases, students don’t get to pick what project they get to work on, but at UCF the coordinators work really hard to match everyone with their top three project choices,” Le said. “The program allows students to pitch our own projects that go with our long-term career paths.”

Le said she hopes to one day use the knowledge she’s learned in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Program to start her own company designing affordable medical devices.

Correction: This article incorrectly referred to Seetha Raghavan as the director of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Her correct title is the director of the Aerospace Program. 

Article by Breanna Sorenson. Original article in Nicholson Student Media.

2018-08-30T16:46:20+00:00 August 30th, 2018|Categories: News|

6 UCF Students Awarded Fulbright Scholarships

Six UCF students were awarded 2018-19 Fulbright scholarships to participate in international exchange programs that strengthen international partnerships and address mutual goals for global concerns.

Estefania Bohorquez ’17Linda Rossmann ’17 and Corin Staves ’17 were selected for highly competitive Fulbright research grants to continue their respective studies at foreign universities. Kristine Carlos ’18La Toya Crittenden ’15 ’18MA and Virginia Vasquez ’17 will spend time in host countries teaching English and serving as cultural ambassadors.

Founded in 1946, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards around 1,900 grants each year for students to study in more than 140 countries worldwide. Students from all fields of study can participate in research, international graduate work or teaching English abroad.

Estefania Bohorquez ’17,  and Linda Rossmann ’17 work with MAE Professor, Dr. Seetha Raghavan and will be highlighted below.

Estefania Bohorquez ’17
Major: Civil engineering
Destination: Cologne, Germany

Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Bohorquez conducted undergraduate research at the UCF Aerostructures Lab and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical systems, focusing on engineering mechanics structures. Earlier this year, she was named a recipient of the 20 Twenties Award and visited the German Aerospace Center in Cologne. While in Germany, she plans to continue her engineering studies and cultivate her skills as an aerial acrobat.

Linda Rossmann ’17
Major: Mechanical engineering
Destination: Cologne, Germany

As part of the International Research Experience for Students program at UCF, Rossmann spent 10 weeks in Cologne with the German Aerospace Center. Her project focused on characterizing the properties of alloys used in 3D printing for gas turbine engines. During her time abroad, Rossmann developed a love for the country and a desire to apply for the Fulbright Program. Since graduating, she began a master’s program at UCF in materials science engineering, and this fall, will conduct research and complete her thesis on thermal barrier coatings for gas turbine engines at the University of Cologne and the German Aerospace Center. Rossman hopes that working alongside these world-class researchers will assist in becoming a NASA researcher in the future.

Article by Meredith Harris. Full article posted in UCF Today.

2018-08-01T14:55:58+00:00 August 1st, 2018|Categories: News|

Secrets of Citrus Micro-Jets

Among the many sub-disciplines of physics are quantum mechanics, cosmology and the physics of fruit.

It’s not a field that universities or learned societies recognize, but it fits the investigation of how reservoirs in the skin of citrus fruit burst and shoot out micro-jets of aromatic oil at more than 30 feet per second.

Andrew Dickerson and his colleagues at the University of Central Florida in Orlando investigated the phenomenon purely out of curiosity. Anyone who has handled a lemon or a navel orange may have noticed that when the skin is bent, a little bit of oil comes out in a tiny spritz. These are to be distinguished from the wayward squirts of juice that can hit a dinner companion when you are trying to add a dash of lemon to your sole.

The scientists used high-speed videography to track how the process works and found sacs of oil in the relatively soft part of the skin just below the more rigid outer layer. They used pliers to bend skin of several citrus fruits and found that at a certain point, the stress on the skin causes a break and the oil reservoir empties in a burst.

Micro-jets are found in other plants and in animals as well, such as spitting termites and spiders. Why citrus plants show this action when the skin is bent in an extreme way isn’t known, although the oils are toxic to some insects, plants, and microbes. The micro-jet phenomenon is the reason that bartenders twist an orange or lemon peel to release the flavor, but that is not likely to have played a part in their evolution.

The experiments, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may be helpful in fields like medicine or commercial printing or even in devising monitors for stress in bridges. For instance, a micro-jet sensor might indicate when too much stress is put on part of a bridge, bursting and spraying a dye.

That’s speculation. Dr. Dickerson said that he had undertaken the investigation because of conversations eight years ago with David Hu of Georgia Tech when Dr. Dickerson was an undergraduate working in Dr. Hu’s lab.

And one of the things he takes away from the findings, after viewing the high-speed videos, is that everyday life is filled with hidden marvels, “ubiquitous examples of natural beauty.”

“How many times have you peeled an orange?” he asked. “How many other things in life pass us by and we don’t appreciate them?”

Article by James Gorman. Originally posted in NYTimes.

2018-07-20T15:53:04+00:00 July 20th, 2018|Categories: News|

SAE Formula and Baja Competition Highlights

The MAE Department would like to highlight the SAE Formula and BAJA team’s performance in their competitions this year.

The Formula team competed at the Michigan International Speedway, making it into the Design finals for the first time in the team’s history and placing ninth. Despite issues with the weather, the Formula team placed twenty-fifth in the Autocross event and finished twelfth for the Cost event. However, due to an electric throttle body failure, the team failed to complete the highest-scored event, the Endurance event, and placed fifty-fourth out of one-hundred twenty as a result.

The BAJA team competed in two competitions: Maryland and Kansas. In Maryland, the BAJA had various successes: Placing in the top five in the Cost Hill Climb, top fifteen in Acceleration and Maneuverability, and a top ten finish in Design, a first in a long time for the BAJA team. Despite failures in the Endurance event, the team finished twenty-first out of ninety-four teams. The BAJA team, also, had success in Kansas placing fourth in Cost, tenth in the Endurance, and top twenty in Design and Sales managing to place ninth out of ninety-five teams.

Congratulations on behalf of the MAE department to the SAE Formula and BAJA team for their performance in their competitions!

2018-05-29T16:24:30+00:00 May 29th, 2018|Categories: News|

Senior Design Showcase for Spring 2018

The Senior Design Spring Showcase concluded on April 19th after two semesters of hard work. Teams of engineering students from various disciplines were challenged for their Capstone project to design, build, and test a project arranged in their Senior Design course.

The Capstone is designed to test all of their fundamental engineering knowledge before shipping them out into the real world. Students were judged and scored on metrics involving design practice, the final product, and ability to communicate their idea to outside parties.

Thank you to Professor Kurt Stresau, Dr. Mark Steiner, and all of the other associated faculty who helped coordinate the event and congratulations to the students for completing such a monumental achievement.

To see a few photos from the event, enjoy our gallery below:

2018-05-09T15:39:40+00:00 May 9th, 2018|Categories: News|

Florida Conference on Recent Advances in Robotics 2018 at University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida’s College of Engineering and Computer Science is hosting the 31st Florida Conference on Recent Advances in Robotics, FCRAR 2018 at the UCF Main Campus.

The Conference will begin at 9:00 AM on Thursday, May 10th, 2018 and end at 1:30 PM on Friday, May 11th, 2018.

Conference Venue:
University of Central Florida
Harris Corporation Engineering Center (HEC)
4000 Central Florida Blvd., Orlando, Fl. 32816-2933

Register for the FCRAR Conference at: Registration

Tentative Conference Schedule:

May 10th
May 11th
8:30: Check-in
9:00: Opening, logistics
9:30: Invited Talk 1
10:30: Networking Break
11:00: Session 1 (P1~6)
12:00: Invited Talk 2
12:30: Working Lunch
13:30: Session 2 (P7~12)
14:30: Invited Talk 3
15:00: Networking Break
15:30: Invited Talk 4
16:00: Session 3 (P13~18)
8:30: Check-in
9:00: Session 4 (P19~24)
10:00: Invited Talk 5
10:30: Invited Talk 6
11:00: KSC Talk and Demo
12:00: Working Lunch / Awards Conference Highlights
Chair: Sang-Eun Song, Ph.D.
Email: S.Song@ucf.edu
Interventional Robotics Lab: http://mae.ucf.edu/
Coordinator: Yaela Marks, Ph.D.
Email: Yaela.Narks@ucf.edu
2018-05-04T14:46:39+00:00 May 4th, 2018|Categories: Events|

Seminar Series: Structural Architectures for Giant Coilable Spacecraft

The UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department continues the Seminar Series by welcoming Dr. Sergio Pellegrino on Friday, April 20th from 1:30-2:30 PM in ENGR II, Room 103. Dr. Pellegrino will present his topic “Structural Architectures for Giant Coilable Spacecraft”.

(Abstract) New kinds of spacecraft, with specifically optimized architectures, may be the best answer to society’s need for cost-efficient space-based infrastructure. Instead of the traditional spacecraft bus, mostly filled with electronic systems, and attached to large deployable appendages that provide power, communication and other functions, alternative structural architectures can provide more efficient, integrated solutions.

In this talk, I will focus on a novel spacecraft architecture, currently under development by the Space Solar Power Project at Caltech, that has the specific purpose of collecting sunlight, converting it into RF power, and radiating it in a narrow beam. This architecture was inspired by kirigami, the extension of Japanese paper-folding that also includes cutting of the paper. Its realization involves thin shell structures that are folded into a tight nested coil. Fundamental research in the mechanics of coiling and uncoiling of thin shells, and the analysis of stress concentrations in coiled thin shell structures with complex geometries will be presented.

Dr. Sergio Pellegrino is Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aeronautics and Civil Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Co-Director of the Space Solar Power Project. He received a Laurea in Civil Engineering from the University of Naples and a Ph.D. in Structural Mechanics from the University of Cambridge. He was on the faculty at the University of Cambridge prior to joining Caltech. Dr. Pellegrino is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of AIAA and a Chartered Structural Engineer. He is currently the President of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) and the founding chair of the AIAA Spacecraft Structures Technical Committee. Dr. Pellegrino has authored over 300 technical publications, and received several awards including ICE James Watt Medal, AIAA Gossamer Spacecraft Forum Best Paper Award, IASS Tsuboi Award, ASME/Boeing Best Paper Award, and ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Committee Best Paper Award, Pioneers’ Award from the University of Surrey, and NASA Robert H. Goddard Exceptional Achievement Team Awards. His area of research is the mechanics of lightweight structures, focusing on packaging, deployment, shape control and stability, novel concepts for future space telescopes, spacecraft antennas, and space-based solar power systems.

2018-04-17T13:07:49+00:00 April 17th, 2018|Categories: Seminar Series|