ME Graduate Seminar Series

Meets Fridays at 2:30 PM in ENG112.

Spring 2024 Seminar Schedule

February 2, 2024

– Advancements and Applications of the Sensor Fish Technology

Fish can be injured or killed when passing through dams, despite improvements in turbine design, project operations, and other fish bypass systems. The Sensor Fish device, an autonomous sensor package, characterizes the physical conditions and stresses experienced by fish in complex hydraulic environments. It identifies locations and operations where conditions are harsh enough to harm or kill fish. The device measures three-dimensional linear accelerations, rotational velocities, orientation, pressure, and temperature with a sampling frequency of 2048 Hz. It features an automatic flotation system and a built-in radio-frequency transmitter for recovery. The device’s pressure, acceleration, and rotational velocity measurements have relative errors within ±2%, ±5%, and ±5%, respectively. Its orientation accuracy is within ±4°, and temperature accuracy is ±2°C. An “exposure” is defined as a significant event when acceleration reaches predefined thresholds. Based on acceleration and rotation velocities, exposures are categorized as either collisions with solid structures or shear from turbulence. Since its development in 2005, the Sensor Fish has been successfully deployed at numerous major dams in the United States.

– A Real-Time Cloud-Based Modular Water Quality Monitoring System Using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle with Integrated Environmental Sensors

Water Quality (WQ) monitoring systems are essential for maintaining aquatic ecosystems and safeguarding human health, but existing systems face limitations due to the immobility of the sensor’s carrier platform, especially in extreme environments. To address this challenge, we developed a Realtime, cloud-based water quality monitoring system using an autonomous, underwater, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with integrated WQ sensors. Our system overcomes the limitations of traditional systems by enabling measurements within 100 meters of the ROV’s home position and eliminating the need for anchored buoys, mounting fixtures, or manual operation from a boat, making it highly applicable even in extreme conditions. The ROV can be deployed from a floating platform that collects and stores solar power, which is supplied to the ROV and the other onboard equipment. A tether management system (TMS) autonomously controls the length of the tether deployed, determining this based on the 3D position of the ROV’s home location. The system was validated at three dams in North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington, successfully transmitting WQ data to a cloud service in real time using edge computing to increase transmission efficiency and reduce data transmission costs. Our research offers a novel solution for measuring WQ, particularly advantageous in traditionally infeasible or hazardous locations, and holds the potential to significantly improve WQ monitoring practices worldwide, especially in the context of extreme environments.

– Energy harvester design for powering ocean observation systems

Ocean observation systems such as buoys and unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) have been deployed for the understanding of oceanic ecosystems; however, their high energy demand limits their expansion on the planet’s oceans. Ocean observation systems are mainly powered by batteries with limited lifetime. This limitation makes it necessary to develop a sustainable blue-energy harvesting solution. Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) based self-powered ocean buoys for harvesting water wave energy have been actively developed due to its advantages such as low cost, light weight, easy manipulation, and high energy conversion efficiency with low frequency waves. In addition, TENGs can be float-type systems, not moored to the sea floor, which is suitable for powering ocean observation systems in the middle of the ocean. However, the operating frequencies of these TENGs are close to the water wave frequency, which results in low average power output at low wave frequency. Novel TENG was designed to increase the operating frequency of the TENG using low frequency water waves to increase power generation. Ocean thermal gradient energy is a promising solution to extending the service life of UUVs, thermal gradient energy system using phase change material (PCM) has been researched for powering UUVs. However, the energy requirement of UUVs has been increasing over time because of increasing sensing needs.  In many cases, the buoyancy engine is the most energy hungry component of the float and glider-type UUVs; therefore, reducing the buoyancy engines’ energy consumption is key to meeting the energy requirements of UUVs.  Hybrid type PCM-based energy harvesting systems was designed for efficient operation of the UUVs, showing the capability for sufficiently powering UUVs.

Dr. Hyunjun Jung is currently an electrical engineer within the Energy and Environment Directorate at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). He received his Ph.D. degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering, Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea in 2017. He was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Virginia Tech from 2017 to 2020. He has 10 years of experience working on self-powered wireless sensors. His research interest includes design of low power management circuits, wireless sensors, triboelectric, piezoelectric, and thermal energy harvesting systems.

 Aljon Salalila is a Mechanical Engineer at Earth Systems Predictability and Resiliency at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Mr. Salalila earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2018 and his Master’s degree in 2021, both from Washington State University. His research at PNNL spans a wide range of engineering and ecological concerns, focusing on renewable energy systems such as hydro, wind, marine, and hydrokinetic technologies. He has contributed to various projects funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). He is a co-inventor of the Sensor Fish Mini, small autonomous sensor packages designed to gather quantitative data for assessing fish passage conditions and physical stressors in small hydraulic structures. His primary research involves designing, implementing, and conducting field validations of thermal energy harvesting systems, triboelectric nanogenerators, autonomous water quality monitoring systems, acoustic telemetry tags, and Sensor Fish technologies.

February 9, 2024

Abstract: Structural DNA nanotechnology has emerged as a powerful approach for the manipulation of bio systems at the scale of living cells. This biotechnology enables the creation of nano- to microscale structures and machines for molecular inquiry as well as advanced manufacturing. In this seminar I will first present a variety of cell-interfacing platforms for applications including the assessment of glyococalyx health, modulation of cellular biomechanics and delivery of nuclear cargo. To explore the advanced manufacturing potential of DNA nanotechnology, I will show how DNA can organize inorganic microparticles to facilitate the assembly of swimming microrobots. To realize the potential for these synthetic biological platforms, we need to (1) expand the capabilities of our design tools and (2) address the instability of these systems in terms of degradation. Both of these challenges require mechanical tool development. To that end, I will show how current software design limitations can be addressed using emerging generative design approaches. And finally I will introduce peptide nucleic acid (PNA) nanomaterials that may provide improved stability in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, these advances point to a next generation of robust and increasingly complex nucleic acid nanostructures and machines for cellular bioengineering and robotic micromanufacturing.

Rebecca E. Taylor is the ANSYS Career Development Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and, by courtesy, of Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Her degrees are in Mechanical Engineering with a B.S.E in 2001 from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in 2013 with Prof. Beth Pruitt at Stanford University. During her postdoctoral training she worked in the laboratory of Prof. James Spudich in Biochemistry at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She joined the CMU faculty in 2016 and now combines both microfabrication and nanofabrication to create hybrid top-down and bottom-up fabricated sensors and actuators for nanobiosensing, robotics, and advanced manufacturing applications. She is the recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32), the NSF CAREER award, the AFOSR Young Investigator Program Award and the 2021 CMU Dean’s Early Career Fellowship.

February 16, 2024

Abstract: One in four deaths worldwide is related to dysfunctional blood clotting. Platelet force generation is an emerging metric for the balance of clotting and bleeding due to recent demonstrations of their powerful abilities to predict bleeding risk in trauma patients and detect bleeding dysfunction more sensitively than all existing clinical tests. While existing methods have indicated the clinical and scientific potential of platelet forces, they have been hampered by low-yield, inability to co-measure immunofluorescent cell markers, and/or arbitrary restriction of cell spreading. To address these limitations, we developed a technique (dubbed “black dots”) that enables high-yield co-measurement of cellular forces and immunofluorescent-labeled cell markers in a single image without constraining cell spreading. Applying black dots to measure single-platelet forces, we identify biophysical factors that associate with force generation, determine the effects of platelet storage conditions on function, identify unique cytoskeletal morphologies induced by different blood proteins, and determine the effects of cytoskeletal crosslinkers. As a result of the high yield of data obtainable with black dots, approaches including multivariate mixed effects modeling, K-means clustering, and machine learning were able to be applied to elucidate complex relationships between platelet activation, structure, and force generation, which have implications in bleeding, clotting, and transfusion medicine.

Molly Y. Mollica is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her training is in bioengineering, mechanical engineering, and hematology, including earning a B.S. and M.S. from Ohio State University, earning a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, and training as a postdoctoral scholar-fellow at Bloodworks Research Institute. She is the recipient of the Bioengineering Cardiovascular Training Grant (T32), Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31), Hematology Postdoctoral Training Grant (T32), Philanthropic Educational Organization Scholar Award, and the Translational Research Training in Hematology Scholar Award. Dr. Mollica’s research is at the intersection of engineering mechanics, mechanobiology, and health equity and involves designing and applying multi-scale techniques to understand and predict bleeding and clotting risk.

February 23, 2024

In his talk, Dr. von Lockette will discuss results, applications, and proposals regarding his work on Electro/Magneto-Active Composites and Structures (eMACS).   eMACS are fabricated by mixing electromagnetically active fillers into generally polymeric (plastic or rubber) matrices. The driving and manipulable electromagnetic interactions span a range of length scales. Consequently, the talk will cover how composition and processing can lead to controllable magnetic and other properties for additive manufacturing; how coupled electric and magnetic field processing can be used as a novel controlling mechanism for microscopic self-organization and control of microscale magnetic robots; and how magnetically interacting regions in flexible structures can be used to actuate “soft robots” for biomedical and other applications. Finally, the talk will conclude with a call to participate in discussions on a (another?) NSF Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) at UMBC.

Dr. von Lockette’s received his PHD in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. His work lies in the topical area of electromagnetically sensitive polymer composites and their applications, tying macroscale device performance to its basis in fabrication / processing methods and solid-state physics. Succinctly put, his work lies at the intersection of classical electromechanics and the nonlinear mechanics of active materials.  His long-term goal is to uncover and exploit multiscale mechanisms of transduction between elastic strain energy and electromagnetic energy for an array of applications. Given the increased usage of electromagnetic fields as the mechanisms that drive and power engineering solutions, these applications have ranged from cardiac assist devices and integrated structural health monitoring; to soft-robotic actuators and magnetic separation techniques that support next generation cancer therapies.  To these ends, the work of the ElectroMagneto-Active Composites and Structures (eMACS) Laboratory at UMBC is equal parts applications- and science-driven experimentation; polymer processing, fabrication, and analytical characterization; classical electromechanics and nonlinear solid mechanics theories; and computational multiphysics simulation and nonlinear optimization.



March 8, 2024 (Postponed to Fall 2024)

Julius Marshall
Industrial Engineer
Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division

March 29, 2024

Mechanical instabilities, like buckling and snap-through instabilities, have been traditionally considered a sign of onset of mechanical failure. While they have been mostly avoided in man-made systems, nature often exploits them to generate fast actuation and high-speed motion in the plant and animal kingdoms. Examples span from micron-sized bacteria able to perform fast turns by buckling instability in the flagellar hook to Venus flytraps able to catch their prey with a snap-through trapping motion. Mechanical instabilities allow to store and rapidly release energy and to achieve high output power amplification. These properties are appealing to the design of multifunctional devices where structural phase transitions can be sustained. In this talk, I will discuss two novel metamaterials exploiting mechanical instabilities to (i) control nonlinear transition wavefronts and to (ii) preprogram reversible sudden reconfigurations with a single pressure input, respectively. Finally, new functionalities for free thin-shell domes undergoing buckling instability will be presented. Both numerical and experimental approaches will be discussed and compared. Interesting applications such as fast sequential actuation, wave manipulation, and soft robotic distributed gripping strategies will be highlighted.

Dr. Tubaldi is assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Ph.D. degree at McGill University in 2017 in Mechanical Engineering. Her research interests sit at the interface of nonlinear dynamics, fluid-structure interaction, and soft materials for applications in mechanical metamaterials, soft robotics, and biomechanics. Recently, she has been awarded the 2023 NSF CAREER Award and the 2020 Haythornthwaite Young Investigator Award from the ASME Applied Mechanics Division.

April 5, 2024

Ceramic additive manufacturing holds great potential to transform various industrial applications. The market for ceramic additive manufacturing is projected to grow by more than ten times from 2022 to 2030. Binder jetting has unique advantages over other additive manufacturing processes, such as the capability to produce parts of a large size and a complex geometry. This talk will cover a few examples of recent research on ceramic additive manufacturing with the method of binder jetting. First, granulation will be discussed as a powder preparation approach to improving the flowability of nanopowder and simultaneously maintaining its high sinterability, and therefore allowing for controlled density and pore architecture. Second, powder bed compaction will be introduced as an active approach to tuning density during the printing process. Third, melt infiltration in a reactive gas environment will be presented as a post-processing approach to achieving fully ceramic composites with high mechanical strength. Furthermore, templated grain growth will be discussed as a systemic approach to tuning the microstructure and achieving both morphological texture and crystallographic texture. Lastly, future research will be proposed on how ceramic additive manufacturing can make a substantial contribution to sustainability-orientated applications, such as carbon capture and atmospheric water harvesting.

Dr. Chao Ma is an Associate Professor in the School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks at Arizona State University. His expertise covers additive manufacturing, laser manufacturing, and metal matrix nanocomposites. He has published more than 50 journal papers in these areas. His research, teaching, and service have been recognized by multiple awards, such as the NSF CAREER Award, the SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, the Outstanding Paper Award at the International Conference on Micro Manufacturing, the Best Paper Award of Manufacturing Division at the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, and the ASME Best Organizer of Symposium and Session Award. He was an Associate/Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University from 2016 to 2023. He was a Senior Mechanical Engineer at ASML from 2015 to 2016. He received his Ph.D. degree from University of California, Los Angeles in 2015, M.S. degree from University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2012, and B.E. degree from Tsinghua University in 2010, all in Mechanical Engineering.

April 12, 2024

Plasma Power Propulsion Laboratory (3P Lab) at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities explores the enormous potential of plasmas, especially low-temperature
plasmas towards clean energy production, high-efficiency propulsion, and cleaner transportation. Plasma-ionized gases comprised of ions, electrons, excited
species, etc., hold the key to our future energy and environment. Even though plasma research has existed for more than a century, the recent technological innovations in power
electronics and advanced manufacturing have opened the door to a new world for energy researchers. 3P Lab uses low-temperature, non-thermal plasmas as a tool to access
unconventional pathways and produce energy that is inaccessible to conventional energy systems.
In this talk, Dr. Biswas will elucidate the utilization of plasmas in energy and propulsion, touching upon various applications. These include (a) plasma-assisted chemical reforming
of hydrocarbon fuels for cleaner combustion and control of combustion instability, (b) the impact of plasma discharge on the breakup of a liquid jet in supersonic crossflow, (c) laser-induced plasma and air shock from energetic materials to develop tailored innovative solid energetic propellants. The talk will conclude by exploring ideas on how plasmas can play an important role in supersonic aviation and reaction control processes.

Dr. Sayan Biswas is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of
Minnesota Twin Cities. Previously, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Sandia National
Laboratories’ Combustion Research Facility. Sayan earned a Ph.D. in Aerospace
Engineering from Purdue University in 2017. He received his Masters from the University
of Connecticut in 2012 and a Bachelors from Jadavpur University, India, in 2010, both in
Mechanical Engineering. At the University of Minnesota, Sayan leads Plasma Power
Propulsion Laboratory – 3P Lab, developing innovative and sustainable technologies for
clean and efficient future energy. His research utilizes low-temperature plasmas in next generation
of engines, discovers carbon-neutral E-fuels for aviation and transportation,
and studies the fundamentals of high-speed propulsion.

April 19, 2024

Christopher D. Rahn
J. Lee Everett Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University


April 26, 2024

At present, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is utilized as a significant tool for the design, evaluation, planning, and assessment for most hypersonic fight applications as well as wind tunnel tests. Among CFD techniques, Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) has been utilized as a practical method for this purpose while scale resolving methods are utilized for understanding/evaluation of specific phenomena not captured by RANS. There are several sources of uncertainty and errors in this CFD-based work-flow process including model-form uncertainties (grid, closure models for several terms in the governing equations), measurement uncertainties (boundary/input conditions that come from observations/measurements as well as their statistical approximation to input to the CFD), and interpretation of the calculated results. Forward uncertainty propagation coupled with CFD can be utilized to quantify the risk associated with the calculations as well as assess the quality of this risk. With inverse uncertainty quantification, models can be improved. The seminar will highlight such issues and potential pathways for development of a common-vision methodology to identify risks with truly “predictive” models for computational simulations of high-speed flows.

Dr. Ragini Acharya received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University in 2008. Currently, she is an Associate Professor in the Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, (MABE) Department at University of Tennessee Space Institute, (UTSI). Before joining UTSI, Ragini Acharya spent over a decade in aerospace and defence industry with her last appointment as a Hypersonic Propulsion Lead at Raytheon Missile Systems. Acharya has been the principal investigator or co-investigator of over 30 programs on Hypersonic and propulsion technologies, reacting flow modeling and computations, and uncertainty quantification method development with over $12 million sponsored research from JHTO, ONR, AFOSR, UCAH, DARPA DSO, DARPA TTO, AFRL, NASA Langley, NSWC, NASA Ames, AMRDEC, MDA, and Raytheon Missile Systems. Acharya has co-authored two best-selling graduate-level textbooks on, “Turbulent and Multiphase Combustion” (John Wiley & Sons) in addition to over 50 technical articles in peer-reviewed publications and technical conferences. Acharya is an AIAA Associate Fellow, a member of the Advisory Board National Space and Missile Materials Symposium and chair of the special sessions subcommittee of the AIAA High-Speed Air Breathing Propulsion Technical Committee and Honors & Awards chair for Inlets, Nozzles, and Propulsion System Integration Technical Committee at AIAA. She has been an invited speaker on various forums. She has received numerous awards in her career including three consecutive AIAA Harry Staubs K-12 STEM Outreach Awards, two JANNAF best paper awards, multiple extraordinary achievement awards at RTX, and one ONR medallion of acknowledgement.

May 3, 2024

Banafsheh Seyed-Aghazadeh
Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth