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Design, manufacturing and controls are core areas of mechanical engineering. In the controls area in the Department, analytical research includes control of nonlinear systems, passivity, observer design, stochastic estimation, signal processing and repetitive control. Faculty work on a large number of sponsored projects involving real world applications of control systems, including applications in vehicle control, engines, powertrain systems, fluid power systems, sensing and control of color printers, paper manufacturing processes, robotics and human assist machines.
Major areas of interest in design are in computer aided engineering, solid mechanics, mechanics of materials, and mechanism design. Examples of current research projects in design include mechanical design of neutrino detectors, design of novel pulse width modulated hydraulic valves, design of roof panels with integrated energy projection technologies, development of human assist machines for rehabilitation, and stress analysis of rolled webs and design of medical devices. The Department is also at the cutting edge of the recent resurgence of interest in developing new technologies that can exploit the untapped potential of fluid power. Fluid power offers promise for substantial improvements in the energy efficiency of heavy machinery and passenger vehicles, and for compact tools and robots that can operate for long periods of time without external power.
As the lead institution for the NSF-sponsored Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power, our Department is at the forefront of this work. We are focusing on three goals: improving energy efficiency; expanding the use of fluid power in transportation; and developing portable, wearable and autonomous fluid-power devices. This work could lead to energy savings of $10 to $20 billion per year and the development of products such as such as hydraulic hybrid vehicles, un-tethered medical and rehabilitation devices, wearable high-powered tools and mobile robots. The ERC includes seven universities, three nonprofit institutions and fifty member companies.
Controls and Sensors Laboratories:
Fluid Power Laboratories: