Olin students can apply for a student academic grant (SAG) to participate in a professional conference, a student designed research project, or an academic competition. Browse past SAG projects and papers in this collection.
To support the design of a mechanism with two opposing, underactuated, multi-segmented feet that enables a small UAV to grasp and perch upon a branch or similar structure, a hybrid empirical-computational model has been developed that can be used to predict whether the mechanism can kinematically grasp structures with a range of cross-section shapes and sizes in various orientations and to quantify the forces exerted by the grasp. This research was presented at the ASME 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition (IMECE) with funding from a SAG award.
Whole Skin Locomotion (WSL) is a project that hopes to further the research of an interesting problem’s solution. The problem is, how to make a robot that is well suited for traversing tight spaces such as collapsed buildings or humane gastrointestinal tracts. By nature a wheel or tank tread rotates with the top and the bottom effectively going different directions. This can create dangerous and unstable conditions in confined spaces. Additionally wheels and tank treads can only use half of its available surface for forward motion. These are significant problems, and rich area for research. This semester I continued the WSL research project that had been started last semester. The base of this project was inspired by the movement of an amoeba, whose locomotion heavily depends pseudopods and cytoplasmic streaming. The endoplasm flows through the amoeba causing growth forward and away from the cell body. We aim to mimic this affect by creating the WSL robot’s forward motion from an inverting torus. As the torus inverts the entire exterior facing membrane moves in the same direction and returns though the center. This is contrary to a wheel or tank tread as we discussed earlier. WSL allows the robot to move in as long as the robot is in contact with the surface.
Walking robots have advantages over their wheeled counterparts in their ability to climb and negotiate rough terrain. This property makes such robots well-suited to exploration of rocky environments such as the surface of Mars or an asteroid. Last semester, this research project began with the goal of developing a folding autonomous hexapod rover for exploring rocky environments. While last semester was devoted to building up a basic platform, this semester we focused on adding more advanced capabilities such as rough terrain traversal, obstacle detection, and custom electronics.
This file contains the final reflection, abstract (as printed in the conference program), and conference poster associated with Anusha Datar's SAG award to present her work with Professor Samantha Michalka at the APA's Technology, Mind, and Society conference. Their poster explored the technical and practical feasibility and implications of augmented reality brain-computer interfaces.
We have created an autonomous, biomimetic robotic fish that closely follows both the shape and motion of real animals. We hope to investigate the efficiency of this motion in order to create underwater robot swarms which require less power to operate and can be both cheaper and simpler to produce.
SAG REFLECTION SPRING 2018 by Sarah Deng : This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Northeast Bioengineering Conference
at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was my first large conference and it was
an amazing and educational experience. The talks were super interesting. Among my favorites
was the orthopedic engineering seminar, which talked about someone developing a robotic glove
using a kind of synthetic string that shortened when an electric current was run through it. It was
amazing to see not just because they were so close to a successful product that would help
millions in rehabilitation, but also that the product actually came out a mistake made by their lab
earlier on. This led to the accidental discovery of this filament that had the shrinking properties.
Something else that I found really cool is that some of the doctors who has talks spoke about the
role of entrepreneurship in their professional careers, which is pretty in line with what goes on at
Olin. In fact, I actually saw some overlap with the material we learned in Products and Markets.
Many presenters cited the Lean Model Canvas, something highlighted a lot in the class. The poster sessions were also a great experience. Because I presented two research
posters, one per session, I was able to fully enjoy the design poster session. I saw a lot of really
amazing devices made for problems that would benefit many. For example, one team created s
small device that would help alleviate menstrual pain, which is a very prevalent issue. In the
research session, I was actually one of the few undergraduates present, so it was really cool to be
among such accomplished students. I was able to talk to other people in my field about my work,
which helped me develop new ideas for future research. I was also able to tell people about Olin
and some people in the education space recognized Olin and came up to talk to me about the
school and my experiences there, which was really interesting. Overall, I really enjoyed the
conference and the opportunity to really immerse myself in the bioengineering field and see what
it’s like to be in the real world!
Over the course of the spring 2018 semester, we organized the group independent study
Explore: Our Identities in Context. Throughout this, we used resources (including the books we
bought with the Student Academic Grant award) to assist us in our exploration of the systems
that govern our society and contexts and how we fit into them. Explore touches on a wide set of topics- gender, race, sexuality, and how these identities, among others interact with systems of power. We believe and found in the class that
discussing these topics and our social context made us more aware of our positionality, biases
and responsibilities as engineers and citizens. Just touching on these topics help us to connect
to each other and ourselves. We wanted to fit-in a brief moment with many of the issues we felt
were under discussed at Olin. This is a lot to cover in a two credit class. It was extremely
important that we back up these toe-dips of classes with great literature and further resources- it
was amazing to be able to add the books to the Olin library that we felt supported our topics,
students as well as the entire community. Many Olin students are seeking good information
about sex and sexuality, having a library with trustworthy information about these issues is not
only fulfilling this academically, but actively contributes to the health and wellbeing of our
community. Making sure our library is stocked with essential African American and feminist
literature helps to center those voices, that are sometimes absent on our campus. Having these books available to us during our structured exploration of these topics was really valuable. We hope and have begun to see, that making these sources available to all
students through the library, provides other students with valuable resources to help them figure
out their own exploration, of themselves as people, and citizens with engineering degrees.
Our independent research for the semester looked at applying the principles of origami structures and
mechanisms design to creating a self deploying glider. This investigation is a continuation of a summer research project done by Olin students in the summer of 2017.
CultureHouse is a future pop-up community and cultural space in the Boston area. With regular programming, local food pop-ups, and an attention to good design, the space will be a vibrant, exciting, and welcoming place that will attract people to come and stay. The idea is to create an indoor public park or communal living room that will be inviting to all as a place to work, learn, play, create, and relax. This will be accomplished through the design of the space, but also through programming that CultureHouse will organize such as open mic nights, a flea market, or an art installation. And, of course, all of this will be driven by what the community wants. Developed with Olin College and Better Block Foundation and Funded by the Forest Foundation, CultureHouse will open for 1 month in summer 2018. During this time, we will continuously evaluate and change the space to meets the needs of the community. After the pop-up has concluded, we will determine the best next steps based on lessons learned. I will be using books from the great thinkers of Urban Livability to inform the work I do on CultureHouse. These lessons will allow me to follow best practices, and hopefully not fall into the pit-falls that lead to Urban Design not having the intended impact.
Thanks to the SAG grants I have received, self-directed research has become a primary focus of my undergraduate education. This semester I participated in two SAG funded research projects: Amoebots, a project that aimed to develop a novel toroidal drive system and Mechanics of Origami Structures, where we attempted to design a glider using origami techniques. Each project taught me a significant lessons that will be invaluable as I continue performing research.
We had the opportunity to hear from six different industry giants and connect with each one of their accessibility offices through the Teach Access Study Away program. The chance to learn how each company capitalizes on its particular opportunity was exciting. For example, we never knew how a visual art company like Adobe could make their products accessible to someone with a visual impairment. In this case, we got the opportunity to talk to Rob Haverty, the PM from Document Cloud, who cares deeply about making PDFs accessible and worked with Microsoft to allow accessible Word documents. His workshop in making accessible documents through Word and Acrobat was completely new and contextualized how people with visual impairments interact with digital documents. Not only did we gain the skills to create our own accessible documents, but we learned about design principles for accessible digital interfaces.
Over the course of the past semester, the Ground Robotic Autonomous Vehicle Laboratory (GRAVL) research team has used the $945.00 awarded by the SAG Committee to develop our autonomous tractor as an advanced undergraduate robotics research platform, engage in paper-developing research, support the projects in ENGR3392 Robotic Systems Integration, and lay the groundwork for future platform improvements, projects, and research.
With the $3000 we received from the SAG Grant, we finalized, designed, and prototyped our vehicle and subsystems on schedule. Because of this, we were able to focus on more of our goals for the 2017-2018 year, especially the ones below.
● Improve knowledge transfer to first years
● Develop a foundational aquatic robotic vehicle platform
● Develop structured light laser imaging sensor system
● Develop cross tunnel thrusters for lateral and axial movement
Report and Reflection following a poster presentation at the 2021 Conference of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. It was the presentation of a project titled "Contemplative Environments within Engineering Education: A Weaving of Two Auto-Ethnographies" by Olin faculty member Yevgeniya V. Zastavker and student David Freeman.