Clare Boothe Luce was a playwright, journalist, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, and the first woman elected to Congress from Connecticut. Her estate established a program to encourage women to “enter, study, graduate and teach in science, mathematics and engineering.” The Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Scholarship at Olin provides support for women-led undergraduate research projects in STEM fields. Past final reports and projects sponsored by the CBL Scholarship are available in this collection.
Laser Cut Like a Boss aims to aid you in bringing your project vision to life by providing informative and inspirational tips and tricks to prototyping with the laser cutter. Our goal is to help you apply design and engineering thinking toward utilizing your tool to develop your project efficiently and successfully.
Working memory is the memory that is stored briefly and manipulated. We use it to read sentences, do math problems, and remember what a room looks like when we look away. This type of memory is severely impaired for individuals with ADHD. Working memory deficit is identified as the core cause of ADHD. Working memory deficits are correlated with poor academic performance.
Green building standards like the Living Building Challenge promote the construction of net-zero energy buildings. In order to meet these standards, alternative heating and cooling methods become necessary, especially for designs with high glazing percentages. The design and analysis of a low cost heating and cooling system with 100% solar fraction is being investigated to address this scenario. Following a literature review and visits to two Living Building Challenge certified buildings, a preliminary building configuration was created for the Living Lab project at Olin College of Engineering. Thermal modeling was conducted on three basic building configurations with different amounts of solar glazing to determine the peak thermal loads for the project‘s temperate building site. Future analysis will be performed using Green Building Studio and eQuest software to identify energy saving strategies and confirm a final proposed design.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are a class of biopolymers capable of which can be produced through bacterial synthesis. Many PHAs have mechanical properties similar to those found in commonly used petroleum- based plastics and, as a result, have garnered interest as a potential as a more sustainable alternative to these materials. While PHAs are biodegradable, current techniques for large-scale biosynthesis require the use of large quantities of organic solvents that do not readily degrade in water and soil. As a result, the production process may incur additional environmental impacts, despite the use of more sustainable raw materials. Thus, recycling may further reduce the impact in the production and processing of PHAs.
Engineering for Humanity, an interdisciplinary engineering design and anthropology course at Olin College of Engineering, is a semester-long service-learning partnership between the college and nearby Councils on Aging. This paper examines the effects of this service learning on our students and their partners. Our research suggests that this service-learning curriculum has positively impacted students’ and elder partners’ behavior and attitudes. We collected data from student and partner surveys, from interviews with the community partners, and from student reflections. By comparing student behavior and attitudes before and after this course, we have observed the following behavioral and attitudinal changes: 1) development of empathetic knowledge and understanding, 2) increased appreciation for user-centered design, 3) redefinition of career trajectories. We also saw transformations in the lives of the community partners. Outcomes for elders were related to quality of life and wellbeing and included 1) decreases in isolation, 2) increased purpose and meaning, and 3) improved feelings of wellbeing. Lasting effects included continuation of decreased isolation through a sustained increase in social engagement, as well as positive thoughts about and mechanisms for aging in place. This paper also describes the curriculum and reports on these trends over three years of coursework.
The robotic revolution dramatically increased the number of tasks which robots perform. It continues to do so, especially within the maritime industry, where robotic applications are being developed across a wide variety of platforms from power to sail. One challenge faced when constructing sailing robots is the inability to determine the state of the sail if there is no human at the helm watching and reacting to constantly changing wind conditions. Traditional, flexible sails begin to “luff” or flap in the wind if are not set correctly. With this comes a decrease in sail efficiency and hull speed because the sails no longer generate maximum lift. In the worse case, the boat reaches a state of being in “irons” where it stalls in the water, bow to the wind. In previous research I showed sensors could be placed on the sail to detect this luffing. In this research, I present a quantitative comparison of three different methods of sensing sail luffing: piezoelectric vibration, air pressure, and acceleration. The relative effectiveness of these methods is compared against position data obtained using computer vision during sets of binary tests where the sail can be considered to luff or to hold its shape. Results are promising and show that each sensor is able to detect sail luffing. However, there are also clear use cases where one sensor is preferable.
Poly(methyl methacrylate), known commonly as acrylic, is a transparent thermoplastic polymer. Acrylic is a choice material for laser cutting due to the ease with which it is machined. Some desirable qualities of PMMA include high light transmission and the aesthetic appeal of transparency. PMMA is widely used for illuminated as well as non-illuminated display signs. Trophies and memorabilia often use cast acrylic as the base material due to the high visual contrast produced by engraving the material. Furthermore, acrylic is often used as a shatterproof glass substitute. It is more weather resistant than other plastics as polystyrene and polyethylene and therefore often found in outdoor applications.
Currently, when a blind person goes grocery shopping, the store management must provide an employee to guide the blind customer and heavily assist with most, if not all, of the shopping. This `dependent shopping' situation often makes the blind person uncomfortable since it calls attention to the handicap and strips him/her of self-sufficiency. The project's motivation is to improve the shopping experience of the blind such that the user can shop independently and efficiently simply by installing new software onto the electronics that they already use daily. This will be done with a combination of crowdsourcing (in which a human will identify the desired grocery item, i.e. object recognition) and computer vision (in which the device will track the item from image to image and navigate the user to the product).
Current robotic sailing relies on sensing wind direction and moving the sails to a position that is appropriate for that relative wind angle. The research to date shows that a correctly tuned sail in the classic wing shape is essential for maximum speed over water. This paper relates research on sensors used to determine when sail trim is incorrect. With improper sail trim, the sail luffs. This luffing produces turbulence which reduces the efficiency of the sail. By instrumenting the sail with sensors to detect when sails begin to luff, the robot can determine when the sail is improperly trimmed and, potentially, take corrective action.
An engineer is defined as “a person who has scientific training and who designs and builds complicated products, machines, systems, or structures.1” This paper will explore a new definition of engineer—engineer as anthropologist and critical thinker.
We have derived compact algebraic bounds for the limit behavior of the magnetic coupling coefficient, κ, for axially aligned multilayer coils. These bounds are validated experimentally. We have also found an expression based on the coil geometry that captures its long-range magnetic behavior. In particular, the limit behavior of the magnetic coupling coefficient is the same for any pair of axially aligned multilayer coils when the separation distance is normalized by this expression.
The nature of this research is to prototype different types of perching landing gears for drones. Using natural mechanisms found in animals, our team created two bio-inspired designs of perching landing gears for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s). These designs were able to demonstrate the feasibility of landing-gear systems that enable bird-sized UAV’s to perch and take-off from branch-like structures.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are a class of biodegradable polymers which can be produced via bacterial synthesis. They have garnered interest due to their potential as a biodegradable alternative to petroleum-based plastics. PHA molecules have been shown to have a helical morphology, which organize into spherulitic crystal structures. The most common, naturally occurring PHA, poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), typically has a crystallinity of up to 75-85% in its homopolymer form. The resulting material is thus brittle and has a narrow processing window. However, a broad range of mechanical properties has been achieved with the inclusion of varying quantities of 3-hydroxyhexanoate (HHx) units to form the polymer P(HB-co-HHx).
Green building standards like the Living Building Challenge promote the construction of net-zero energy buildings. In order to meet these standards, alternative heating and cooling methods become necessary, especially for designs with high glazing percentages in temperate climates, such as for aesthetic purposes or use in greenhouses. The design and analysis of a low-cost heating and cooling system is being investigated to address these scenarios. Air-source heat pumps are now commonly used in super-insulated, net-zero energy building designs, and we explore the possibility of augmenting this configuration with an inexpensive seasonal thermal energy store to address the increased heating and cooling loads. A high-glazing building scenario was modeled in Revit to establish monthly loads for a proposed building design, and a heat transfer model of a thermal store coupled to a heat pump was simulated in COMSOL Multiphysics to test feasibility of this idea. The results suggest this strategy has potential but may be limited in application due to its large size.
For my research, I set out to create a vision system to enable an aqueous vehicle to autonomously navigate harbors. The application in mind for this system is for robotic (unmanned) research vessels for oceanic research missions. The vessel will contain appropriate sensors to whatever observations need to be made, whether it is testing chemical contents of the water, biomass moving through an area, or tracking various groups of animals. Eventually, my research scope expanded to working some on the architecture level to find ways to integrate two distinct architectures for seamless flow between low-level, small time-scale thinking with long-term analysis and planning.
Over the course of this year nest specimens from four of the ve Colletidae subfamilies and annalyzed their properties. It was demonstrated by previous work at this institution that the nest cells of at least one specie of Colletidae were not in fact just layers of polyester, but a composite of polyester and silk. The aforementioned work culminated in a Masters thesis at the University of Bath by Rebecca Belisle (Belisle 2011.) The focus of this research was to compare nest cell characteristics with what we know about the nesting behavior of the bees across all subfamilies, the documentation of which is extensive. It was found that the nesting behavior of each subfamily heavily correlated to the cell characteristics observed under our testing.
During a research period of June-August 2020, a team of students from the Laboratory for
Adaptation, Inclusion, and Robotics developed fabric-based pneumatic actuators for use in
at-home physical therapy for children with spastic cerebral palsy. This paper focuses on the
mechanical components of the device–specifically, what materials and productions methods
are most effective in creating a useful, affordable actuator. It details the development of
several working prototypes and what methods were used to test them, as well as what
research remains to be done on this subject in the future.
Given the detrimental environmental impacts from the fast fashion clothing industry, this research project delves into the recycling of textiles for thermal insulation and energy conservation. The present work includes analyzing recycled fabric samples with varying methods of construction in order to maximize the volume of air—since air resists heat conduction—while keeping the air pockets small enough to minimize thermal radiation and convection. Thermal modeling using resistance networks was done to validate the measurement method and increase the accuracy and replicability of thermal conductivity measurements. Multiple quilt samples were sewn and measured with a thermal conductivity apparatus, with the goal to reduce thermal conductivity as much as possible. Quilt samples varied by the density of top-stitching, where indentations caused by stitching could create air pockets. Preliminary findings show that quilt samples with higher stitch density have a lower thermal conductivity than samples with a lower stitch density.
With augmented reality technology that can accurately track a smartphone’s motion through 3D space becoming more prevalent,
assistive technology researchers saw the opportunity to utilize it for navigation purposes. For the past few years, Paul Ruvolo and his team have been developing Clew, a free iPhone app that helps blind and visually impaired individuals navigate recorded routes indoors. This summer, my work has centered around the addition of rerouting and pausing capabilities for the Clew app. This report will conclude with the discussion of future opportunities and limitations of the app.
Cerebral palsy patients currently face a significant treatment gap, which in part has to do with the high cost of traditional treatment methods. Research has shown that cerebral palsy affects 1 in 323 children in the United States (CDC, 2018), 42% of which aren’t receiving the care that they need. The medical expenses needed for children with cerebral palsy are 16 times higher than other children, which could account for this high percentage. The summer research team aims to look into and develop low-cost technology alternatives that could supplement these children’s physical therapy from home. Building
upon existing work on controllable gloves with fabric actuators, my peer researchers and I looked into efficient design changes that accomplish our goal (Polygerinos, 2013).
Based on a review of research papers, existing strategies for glove position control (Yap, Kamaldin, Kim, Nasrallah, Goh, Yeow, 2015), were paired with sensors that could be integrated into a low-cost version. Two different sensor types were chosen to be evaluated for their feasibility for our project: a commercially available glove controller based on a conductive-ink bend sensor, and a novel
conductive textile. Analysis of the data demonstrated that the glove controller sensors worked well, better than the conductive textiles, as expected. The results indicate that the glove sensors worked best when bending them along a radius rather than at a joint since the signal is strongest when the sensors are bent consistently along the length rather than at a single point. Further research is needed to characterize the accuracy of the sensors, but they are ready to be integrated and tested with the other control aspects.
Aquaculture has the potential to become the world's most important and sustainable option for protein production, but many of those involved in the industry currently lack the tools, resources, and education to make that happen. The purpose of this paper is to explore the feasibility of creating a robust but low-cost fluorometer that can detect chlorophyll levels and provide offshore aquaculture operations with immediate feedback on how their day-to-day operations impact the nutrient levels in the surrounding waters. The experimental setup involves an LED that emits light at 430 nm, focusing optics, and a photodiode placed perpendicular to the LED that is capable of detecting any light emitted from an algae sample. Preliminary results are promising as they demonstrate that such a setup is sensitive enough to detect the difference between samples containing different concentrations of chlorophyll. Further testing is required to optimize the fluorometer, and more research needs to be done into how to package the sensor and make it suitable for in situ trials.
In late 2018, the City of Providence began allowing scooter share companies to operate within their city and to provide alternative forms of transportation to their population. These scooter share companies are required to uphold certain distribution requirements within the five geographical regions of the city: downtown, east side, south side, north west, and west. The system has definitely changed over time. From August 2018 to October 2019, Bird and Lime were the primary scooter providers to the city. They were later replaced by Spin and Veoride. In general, all providers increased their scooter deployments over time and saw an increase ridership as a result. It is clear, however, that each provider expanded their services to meet the needs of each region quite differently. This is evident in how fleet size differs across each region over time. In this paper, we discuss our study of the equity of access to scooter share services in Providence. We work with the City to investigate how ridership, coverage, and service vary across the region to identify underserved communities. Further, we analyze sociodemographic factors from 2018 census data to put these patterns into context.
Prior research has shown piezoelectric vibration sensors can detect sail luffing, the acceleration of a flexible sail out of its normal wing state caused by a momentary reversal of the air pressure gradient over the sail. Luffing decreases boat performance by reducing the lift generated by the sail. Yet detecting sail luffing in flexible sails for robotic sailboats is still challenging. This paper presents three methods of sensing characteristics of a luff – air pressure differential which causes the luff, the acceleration of the sail as the luff occurs, and the influence of motion and acceleration of a luffing sail on members placed on the sail. We assess three different sensor types based on cost, ease of use, complexity of electrical interface, power consumption, accuracy of the sensor and amount of noise in sensor readings. To classify the most effective sensor for a given set of constraints, a multifaceted analysis has been performed with a piezoelectric vibration sensor, an acceleration sensor, and a gas pressure sensor. The accuracy and precision of each sensor at sensing sail luffing is evaluated by comparing the sensor output with a plot of the position of a single point on the sail through time generated with computer vision.
The discussion of inclusivity and accessibility is often something that happens in a closed system, where able bodied people discuss how to make things easier for people who have a disability. When written out on paper, it seems silly, like not inviting someone to their own party, but in reality it happens constantly. In order to most effectively meet the needs of people with all abilities it is necessary to include them at the discussion and to recognize their ideas and solutions as more valid than those created by people who do not actively live with the disability they may be designing for. When teams, companies and projects fail to include people with disabilities in the create of solutions that will supposedly make their lives easier, not only does society lose the possible contributions of an entire community of people, but the solutions that are created are often not the most direct way to solve the problem. Inclusivity means not just including the ideas and words of people with disabilities but also recognizing the contributions of disabled designers and engineers themselves. During the summer of 2015, I worked on a research team led by Sara Hendren, with two other students from Olin College, Toni Saylor and William Lu. The research team worked on multiple projects in the accessibility and inclusivity design space, including conducting background research for a book proposal that Professor Hendren was starting and working to document and share the work done by a woman named Cindy, who had created a variety of innovative solutions to modify her environment to suit her needs as a person with multiple disabilities.
Electromyography can be used as a human machine interface in which a person could control a computer or device with the electrical signals that cause muscle movement. This research used EMG data from the SEEDS data base to explore what features should be used by machine learning algorithms to accurately classify EMG data into which motion a subject is preforming. We extracted features from the EMG data and then ran three different feature selection algorithms to find which features were the most useful in classification. In the end, we found eight features that our various selection algorithms selected the most and concluded that those features would be good starting place when trying to classify EMG data.
There are long-standing examples of how engineers’ education in probability and statistics has not been sufficient. This work presents a novel theoretical framework to help teach and study statistical variability. Using this framework, we developed an interview guide and deductive coding scheme to use in interviews with engineering students. Early results from these interviews support our initial hypothesis of a slight induced variability bias.
The RoboTuna is a robotic fish that will be able to collect samples from marine wildlife and allow us to better understand the oceanic ecosystem and the behavior of underwater creatures. This biomimetic robot will be able to get closer to fish and other creatures in their natural habitat than a person ordinarily could, and therefore will give new insights into how the underwater world is changing. Many of the RoboTuna’s pieces need to be flexible and waterproof, so casting and molding will be necessary to create them. The focus of this research was on fabricating a fin and air bladders for the RoboTuna, which included experimenting with different kinds of silicone rubber and urethane plastic. Existing soft robotic actuators have been extremely helpful to gain insight on how to move these parts without mechanical mechanisms. Shape memory alloys allow for simpler fin movement actuation instead of having to rely on a bulky motor. The same goes for moving the tail via air bladders, a kind of fluidic elastomer actuator. The differences between different kinds of silicones and how each material and molding method affected the fabricated parts are shown through flexibility and strength data. The information here can help future researchers determine what materials would be best for various parts of the RoboTuna and understand their options for soft robotic actuators.
Clew Maps reimagines Clew as an app that crowdsources routes for indoor navigation and repurposes the existing
backend code base to better serve this purpose by alleviating the pain points inherent to the current route-sharing mode of use. By implementing image anchoring to improve the robustness of the anchoring and alignment process, and by using a cloud database for route storage along with a new user interface (UI) to address the limitations of sharing routes in Clew, Clew Maps makes independent travel in unfamiliar public spaces more accessible
for people with blindness and visual impairments (B/VI).
Research was done on actuators for a soft robotic glove that could assist children with cerebral palsy with at-home hand physical therapy. Materials in the construction of fabric-based soft pneumatic actuators were evaluated for this purpose. Three different bladder types (TPE impulse sealed bladders, condoms, and modeling balloons) were tested. The straightening and bending force each actuator could produce as well as the shape the actuator formed when unrestrained were analyzed. The results indicated that condoms and modeling balloons are superior to TPE bladders
for the use as bending bladders. All bladder types performed well as straightening bladders so any could be chosen depending on the desired quantitative values such as the straightening force and force-to-pressure relationship. Further research is needed into the durability of each bladder type and into attachment methods of each bladder to prevent air leaking.
Clew Maps is an update to a preexisting iOS App for indoor navigation called Clew. Presently, blind and visually impaired (BVI) individuals struggle to navigate unfamiliar spaces, and often have to rely on navigation instructions from a sighted guide. Clew Maps introduces a cloud database that can store pre-recorded routes that users can navigate along in an App Clip experience. This means that even non-Clew users can utilize the navigation tool without downloading the app, and that routes can be navigated by an individual without them having to walk along the route to record it ahead of time. Clew Maps robustly anchors the device utilizing ARKit’s ARImageAnchors; however, more work is required to better understand the potential use cases and address potential pain points for BVI individuals, such as
route discovery and aligning to image anchors.
Article 22 of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)'s Radio Regulations, Equivalent Power Flux Density (EPFD) is defined to ensure protection from harmful interference from non-geostationary (NGSO) systems into geostationary (GSO) satellites or earth stations. EPFD depends on the power flux density amplified or attenuated by the antenna gains of the NGSO and victim GSO systems. This occurs when an NGSO satellite transmits towards their system's ES, and some of the NGSO's transmitted power and causes interference to the GSO ES. EPFD calculations are performed in three directions: down, up, and intersatellite. The paper focuses on the EPFDdown algorithm and its applications in interference regulations and radio astronomy services (RAS), which tend to be more susceptible to unwanted emissions from other systems. In order to protect RAS, a new set of EPFD limits was established. To ensure that RAS is protected, the ITU Radiocommunication Sector restricts harmful interference. EPFDdown is defined as the EPFD from the NGSO satellite into the victim GSO earth station (ES), and accounts for the gain pattern of both NGSO satellite and the GSO victim ES in a particular orbital geometry and frequency band. In terms of RAS, RAS telescope sites on Earth are victim ES. To help prevent Article 22 limit exceedances, the ITU's Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) defined Recommendation S.1503 to provide guidance for satellite operators developing software to evaluate EPFD limits. This study focuses on implementing the EPFD-down algorithm in ITU-R S.1503 to analyze EPFDdown. With the EPFD validation process, NGSO systems can ensure that incumbent and planned GSO networks can operate without
harmful interference, reducing data loss caused by interference from NGSO satellites. By going through each step of the EPFD validation process to validate Mangata's EPFDdown showing, this paper aims to make the complex EPFDdown algorithm more accessible to companies who are operating satellite systems.
Microbial communities are an important cornerstone of all ecosystems. By studying their interactions and the way they respond to environmental changes we can better understand which factors contribute to the ability of the community to function. Previous experiments were conducted to gather data on how microbial community composition changes over time of a nutrient perturbation. After collecting this data, the microbial community composition was determined by sequencing of the 16SsrDNA gene. Being able to analyze these datasets of community composition, is where we are able to gain the most understanding of the significance of the community. There are main ways to look at these communities but the main three are the statistical approach, network analysis, and linear systems modeling. Each of these provides a different lens to look at datasets which can be used to give context to the various trends in the
data. Being able to understand how to use each of these methods and determine which is the most useful for any given dataset is an important part of this research.