Mechanical Engineering 2017 SURE and SROP Research Projects

ME Project #1: Collaborative gait development for walking micro-robots                    
Faculty Mentor: Kenn Oldham,
Project Details: Locomotion over complex terrain is a challenging task for small (approximately centimeter-scale) micro-robots, due to limited on-board sensing and actuation capabilities. Adaptation to complex terrain can perhaps be improved by sharing of information among multiple simple robots. This project will explore methods for characterizing simple walking micro-robot gaits and adapting those gaits based on both internal feedback and shared information from other robots.
The student will primarily work with Matlab simulation code for leg dynamics of thin-film piezoelectric walking robots (5-15 mm in length), previously developed in the PI’s laboratory. The student will test methods for parameterizing leg inputs and simulate robot locomotion performance on various ground profiles. They will then assess whether walking performance can be improved by sharing information about parameters used to describe leg impact among multiple simulated robots. The student may also be involved in proof-of-concept testing with meso-scale (2-5 cm) physical robot prototypes.

ME Project #2: Design and Dynamics of Modular Fleet Systems                                      
Faculty Mentor: Bogdan I. Epureanu,                                            
Project Details: The goal of this project is to develop an integrative method that combines dynamic operation, system design to enhance the resilience and adaptability of modular fleet systems formed by ground vehicles, ships or UAVs. The project involves modeling the dynamic behavior of modular fleets and formulating the modular design problem for the fleet system. Effective solution strategies will be developed to coordinate design and dynamic fleet operation problems. Case studies will be developed to demonstrate the methodology.
The student will work with graduate students and post-docs to develop case studies and perform analysis on the simulation models. Participation in weekly research group meetings will be required. The student must have Matlab skills to understand the available simulation model.

ME Project #3: Vibration Therapy                                                                                
Faculty Mentor: Bogdan I. Epureanu,          
Details: There are 1,000,000 cases of severe sepsis in the U.S. annually resulting in over 250,000 deaths. Treatment of severe sepsis may require prolonged stays and immobilization for weeks in the ICU and include complex support care such as mechanical ventilation, invasive monitoring using catheters in large veins and arteries, and the use of powerfully pharmacologic agents to raise blood pressure. The development of prolonged neuromuscular dysfunction including myopathy has been identified in almost 50% of these patients resulting in muscle wasting and weakness. To solve this problem, the creation of a therapeutic vibration device was proposed, wherein our present research deals with the study of mechanical vibration on human body and development of an exoskeleton device for delivering vibration therapy to immobile patients.
Students will be exposed to various facets of development and testing of a prototype device whilst carrying out extensive trials on subjects / patients. The role involves modeling and simulation of prototype, investigation of effects of mechanical vibrations on human body physiological parameters, collection and analysis of data. The collection of data may require frequently visits to the University medical centers. This will help develop an appreciation for the various stages of prototyping, and for factors considered while designing a user-friendly device, and for developing a multidisciplinary approach when solving real-world problems. Requirements: basic knowledge and understanding of vibrations and dynamics, MATLAB (basic level), NI LabVIEW (basic level).

ME Project #4: Analysis of Wind Turbine Structures                    
Faculty Mentor: Bogdan I. Epureanu,                              
Project Details: The life expectancy of wind turbines is 20 years. To guarantee this life time, the fatigue analysis on its structure is necessary. Using a finite element model, student will determine an optical design of wind turbine structure which can resist to aerodynamic loads over its life time. Student will learn about how to calculate dynamic response of structure using finite element methods and how to estimate life time of structure.
Requirements: knowledge of dynamics and vibrations, and experience with finite element analysis software, basic speaking and writing skills in Korean language are optional but welcome.

ME Project #5: Bio-Dynamics of Animal Locomotion                                                  
Faculty Mentor: Bogdan I. Epureanu,                      
Details: One of our group’s research goals is to tackle questions about dynamics in biological systems. As part of a broader project in the field of bio-dynamics and locomotion dynamics, we are interested in studying how magnetic field and other environmental factors can affect the locomotion patterns of small organisms. To this end, we are working with C. elegans worms, a tiny (~1mm), transparent, non-pathogenic, widely used model organism, which moves by making a sinusoidal wave motion. We have already analyzed some of their basic locomotion parameters, such as velocity and bending frequency, and we are interested in expanding our analysis to capture more variables, such as bending amplitude, head bending, reversals, etc. Results of this work will be combined to the animal’s motor neurons activity, genetic background and population dynamics.                                
The person who will undertake this project will need to record and analyze worm locomotion. To do so, they will need to work with a microscope and tracking software, handle worms and maintain worm cultures. Required skills are: familiarity with MatLab and image processing techniques, basic magnetism knowledge, patience, accuracy and lots of curiosity! Student will be expected to keep detailed experiments record, show collaborative spirit and participate in a weekly meeting with other lab members. Taking initiatives and being creative will be strongly encouraged. Training will be offered regarding basic worm culturing techniques, basic statistics and microscopy. Working in an interdisciplinary environment can be considered a benefit, as they will interact with both biologists and other engineers.

ME Project #6: Barcoding Fluorescent Worms                                                          
Faculty Mentor: Bogdan I. Epureanu,                        
Project Details: One of our group’s research goals is to tackle questions about dynamics in biological systems. To this end, we are working with C. elegans worms, a tiny (~1mm), transparent, non-pathogenic, widely used model organism, which is easily cultured in lab conditions in large populations. These worms are used broadly in neuroscience, molecular biology, genetics, developmental biology, evolution and behavioral studies. Many of the high-through put assays involving C. elegans would greatly benefit from individually labeling worms. We are working towards this goal, by labeling worms using fluorescent nanoparticles. Results of this work will assist on making an innovative, powerful tool, easily accessible to a broad community of diverse researchers.                                                    
The person who will undertake this project will need to build an algorithm to be used for identifying individual worms. To do so, they will need to work with a microscope and imaging software, and they will be asked to develop a custom-made MatLab code. Required skills are: good familiarity with MatLab and image processing techniques, patience, accuracy and lots of innovative thinking! Student will be expected to keep detailed experiments record, show collaborative spirit and participate in a weekly meeting with other lab members. Taking initiatives and being creative will be enthusiastically encouraged. Training will be offered regarding basic worm culturing techniques, basic statistics and microscopy. Working in an interdisciplinary environment can be considered a benefit, as they will interact with both biologists and other engineers.

ME Project #7: Engineering Cell Free Expression System for Biomedical Applications
Faculty Mentor: Allen Liu,                                                                  
Project Details: The overall goal of this project is to develop cell free expression system for producing protein of interests inside lipid bilayer vesicles for biomedical applications. The student will learn and apply capillary droplet microfluidics to assemble lipid bilayer vesicles that encapsulate an in vitro transcription-translation system. We are interested in engineering several membrane channels and reporter proteins to study the input-output relationship. These have potential for creating artificial cells that have biosensing capabilities.

ME Project #8: AFREECAR (affordable, renewable electric car)                            
Faculty Mentor: Kazu Saitou,                                                    
Project Details: The long-term goal of the project is to demonstrate that a short range/low speed, solar-powered electric bicycle trailer, made from local materials and applying modular construction principles for ease of assembly, repair and disassembly, can improve quality of life in African villages. Such an E-trailer would enable greater access to fertilizer, markets (crops and crafts) and healthcare while “creating” more time for education and economic advancement. When not being used for transport, the trailer can be a source of stationary power (for charging cell phones and powering wi-fi hotspot, etc.). These benefits are expected to finance a sustainable business model and generate employment and self-sufficiency.                                                                                                        
In collaboration with Dr. Christopher E. Borroni-Bird at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., Pratt and Miller Engineering, and William Davidson Institute at Business School, a generation 1 prototype design and an accompanying service business model have been developed. The generation 1 prototype is currently being built at Pratt and Miller Engineering and will be tested extensively during Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 semesters.
In summer 2017, students are expected to design and build generation 2 prototypes, which would address the shortcomings of generation 1 prototype identified during the filed tests, and the findings from market research in African villages to be conducted concurrently during summer. Pending funding availability, total of 3+ generation 2 prototypes are expected to be built before the end of summer, which will be shipped to Gahna in Fall 2017.

ME Project #9: Building Better Batteries: Beyond Li-ion                                    
Faculty Mentor: Jeff Sakamoto,                                            
Project Details: In order to meet the needs of electric vehicles, advanced battery technologies must be developed. This project is focused on developing solid state battery prototypes which would be 2x better compared to current Li-ion batteries. The project is team oriented and fast paced. Students will perform ceramic materials synthesis, processing, chemical modification, materials chemistry characterization, mechanical properties characterization, and battery testing. Work will be performed at the Sakamoto lab in GG Brown and in the Battery Lab at the UMich Energy Institute. The project is ideal for students planned degree path in materials science, mechanical engineering, chemistry, and chemical engineering. Students will work closely with other undergraduate students and post-docs to make and evaluate batteries as a part of a team. The project is hands on and students will see the entire process through: from making powders, to designing experiments, to using equipment like electron microscopes, to fabricating batteries.

ME Project #10: Quantitative Comparison of Measured and Computed Flows in Automotive Engines
Faculty Mentor: David Reuss,                                          
Project Details:  Flow and combustion inside reciprocating internal combustion engines can now be computed and measured for multiple cycles using Large Eddy Simulation and high-speed Particle Image Velocimetry, respectively.  Both the measurements and simulations create large datasets of the in-cylinder turbulent flow that must be quantitatively compared, in order to validate the efficacy of the calculations.  The object of this study is to determine if the multi-cycle calculation (performed by an industrial partner) have captured the flow combustion throughout each cycle.
The student will use a software program (EnSight) for visualizing and post processing a three-dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamics dataset for comparison with velocity data sets measured at the University of Michigan.  The student will have opportunity to work directly with the UM graduate research team as well as report their results to the General Motors/University of Michigan Collaborative Research Laboratory’s multi-university/industrial consortium.

ME Project #11: Computer Modeling of Novel Materials for Energy Application
Faculty Mentor: Don Siegel,                                                    
Project Details: This SURE/SROP project will apply state-of-the-art computational modeling to predict and understand the properties of new materials for various energy-related applications. Specific areas include: (i) high-capacity energy storage materials for applications in transportation (fuel cell and battery electric vehicles) and renewable energy generation (wind and solar); (ii) Materials for CO2 capture; (iii) Lightweight structural alloys. We use state of the art high-performance (parallel) computers and algorithms to model the atomic scale properties that determine the performance of novel energy storage materials. The SURE/SROP student will develop a detailed understanding of a particular energy-related application. They will also gain expertise with the importance & capabilities of computer modeling in modern materials science research.

ME Project #12: Diesel Engine Research – diesel engine emission and fuel efficiency
Faculty Mentor: John Hoard,                                              
Project Details: A medium duty diesel engine will be studied with a combination of modeling and engine testing. Areas of study will include turbocharging/boost system and exhaust aftertreatment for emission control. The student should have an understanding of IC engines. The student will work closely with a team of graduate students, post-docs, and faculty to conduct dynamometer lab experiments and modeling.

ME Project #13: Plasma-catalyst for NOx Reduction                                                  
Faculty Mentor: John Hoard,                                                  
Project Details: We are working with a major automotive supplier to investigate a nonthermal plasma discharge device along with a catalyst for NOx control in automotive exhaust. The student should have an interest in engines, emissions, and catalysis.

ME Project #14: Automotive Catalyst Research                                                                
Faculty Mentor: John Hoard,                                                    
Project Details: Two programs are underway to study automotive catalysts with improved functions and unique control methods. The student will participate in lab studies of performance and emissions, using lab controls and analyzers. The student will work with a group to operate experimental apparatus and will gather and analyze data.

ME Project #15: Charge Air Cooler Condensation Management                              
Faculty Mentor: John Hoard,                                                    
Project Details: Turbocharged gasoline engines use a heat exchanger to cool the compressed air. Under some operating conditions, liquid water condenses in the cooler and can cause engine operational problems. We are using a turbocharged engine test cell to image condensate behavior under various conditions, including with high speed movies of motion inside the engine. The student will participate in the engine test cell studies, using the test cell equipment and camera.

ME Project #16:  3D-Printing of Prosthetic Sockets                                                    
Faculty Mentor: Albert Shih,                                                        
Project Details: This project explores the use of fuse deposition modeling (FDM), one of the additive manufacturing methods, for 3D-printing of carbon fiber composite socket. The project works closely with the University of Michigan Orthotics and Prosthetics Center with the goal to develop design and manufacturing methodologies for a new service system for rapid turn-around and high-quality 3D-printing of custom socket that will have personalized fit and comfort to the residual limb. Contact modeling based on the computed tomography (CT) image of the residual limb will be analyzed to design the geometry of the prosthetic socket. This project will also work closely with Stratasys, a partner and world leader in FDM technology, and Altair, a software company on specialized in cyber design and service.

ME Project #17: Creativity in Engineering Idea Generation                                      
Faculty Mentor: Shanna Daly,                                            
Prerequisites: Background in design                                                                                    
Product Details: Do you wonder how some people seem to come up with really creative ideas to solve engineering design problems? Our research project looks at differences in how engineering students come up with design ideas. We are investigating (a) the ideation flexibility of engineers, meaning the ability to generate both incremental and radical ideas, (b) design strategies novices and experts use to generate design ideas, and (c) design tools that can support diverse and creative idea generation. UROP students on our project will be involved in collecting, organizing, and analyzing data. Collecting data will include helping to prepare and then administer sessions in which engineering students generate ideas to solve given design problems. Organizing data will include scanning and transcribing the responses. Analyzing data will include coding those responses and then summarizing the findings. Researchers will gain hands-on experience in how to do research on creativity and engineering design.

ME Project #18: EER – Research in Design Education and Engineering Education – SURE applicants only (Please note, Engineering Education Research is a non-degree granting program)
Faculty Mentor: Shanna Daly, or Cindy Finelli,
Prerequisites: Background in design                                                                                                    
Project Details: The student may engage in research related to one of several areas. A student working with Dr. Daly will study: (1) idea generation in engineering design to support innovative outcomes, (2) the role of creativity in engineering problem solving and design, and (3) intersections of engineering work and academic study as the source of innovation for graduate work in engineering. A student working with Dr. Finelli will study: (1) student resistance to innovative teaching practices and ways for faculty to alleviate it; (2) reasons faculty change their teaching practices and barriers to doing so; or (3) the impact of a novel, hands-on learning activity on student learning.                                  
Regardless of the project, responsibilities for the student include: (a) collecting data via observations, surveys, interviews, or design experiments, (b) managing data using excel or NVivo, (c) analyzing data both qualitatively and quantitatively, and (d) communicating outcomes in verbal and written form.

ME Project #19: Design and Control of Dynamically Adaptive Feed Drives for High Performance and Energy Efficiency                                                                            
Faculty Mentor: Chinedum Okwudire,                                
Project Details: Motion delivery mechanisms (feed drives) of advanced manufacturing machines are often oversized leading to increased cost, energy consumption (heat generation) and loss of agility. In addition, aggressive acceleration of moving parts often create vibrations of flexible parts leading to reduced throughput and positioning precision. The objective of this project is to investigate a concept based on varying the mechanical design and controller dynamics of feed drives to allow machine performance (positioning and throughput) to be increased based on the manufacturing operation while keeping energy consumption (heat generation) to a minimum. The approach involves (1) studying the mechanical design and dynamics to determine the elements that could have potential benefits if varied, and (2) determining control methods that will ensure optimal performance, energy consumption and stability during the variations.
The student will work closely with a graduate student currently working on the topic to develop and test energy-efficient machine designs and/or controllers.

ME Project #20: Intelligent 3D Printers for Next Generation Manufacturing
Faculty Mentor: Chinedum Okwudire,
Project Details: This project seeks to develop intelligent 3D printers that enable more flexibility and ease in printing of personalized products by unskilled users. Student will study existing 3D printers and come up with ways of re-designing them for versatility, improved performance and ease of use. Student must have very strong design acumen, and experience with micro-controllers and 3D printing.

ME Project #21: Orosz Ground Robotics Experiment (OGRE)
Faculty Mentor: Gabor Orosz,
Project Details: Building and testing ground robots which can mimic the longitudinal and lateral dynamics of full-sized ground vehicles. Calibrating sensors and tuning controllers and testing different communication algorithms for connected ground robots. Familiarity with Labview or android programming is preferred.

ME Project #22: Open CV – Connected and Automated Vehicle Experiment
Faculty Mentor: Gabor Orosz,
Project Details: Designing and building the communication and control algorithms for a connected and automated vehicle in order to control the throttle, brake and steering. Test the designed algorithms on a Kia Soul vehicle at test track called MCity. This is a collaboration with the companies Polysync and Commsignia. Familiarity with C++ programming is preferred.

ME Project #23: Analyzing the Dynamics of Biological Networks
Faculty Mentor: Gabor Orosz,
Project Details: Constructing nonlinear delayed models for neural networks and gene regulatory networks and analyzing their dynamics. Decomposing the dynamics and identifying distinct patterns arising in these systems.

ME Project #24: Numerical investigations of cavitation in soft tissue
Faculty Mentor: Eric Johnsen,
Project Details: Cavitation plays an important role in a number of therapeutic ultrasound procedures. However, the dynamics of bubbles in soft materials such as human tissue are not well understood. The objective of the project is to numerical investigate bubble oscillations in soft matter. In particular, the student will implement a model for gas diffusion in/out of vapor bubbles, and investigate bubble dynamics in soft matter.

ME Project #25: Modeling, Analysis and Control of Connected Vehicle Systems
Faculty Mentor: Gabor Orosz,
Project Details: Studying connected vehicle systems with wireless vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication and analyzing their behavior at the linear and nonlinear level. Designing controllers that can tolerate time delays and stochastic disturbances.