Professors

Art Kuo


I am a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan, where I direct the Human Biomechanics and Control Lab. My teaching is in the areas of dynamics, control systems, and biomechanics. Typical undergraduate courses include "Modeling, Analysis, and Control of Dynamic Systems" and "Design of Feedback Control Systems." Typical graduate courses include Intermediate Dynamics (i.e., classical mechanics), Digital Control Systems, Linear Systems Theory, and an upper-level course on Mechanics and Control of Human Movement.

I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. I then went to Stanford University to do a Ph.D. in the Mechanical Engineering Dept.'s Design Division. There, I worked with Dennis Carter studying orthopaedic biomechanics and morphology of trabecular bone. I then worked with Felix Zajac for my Ph.D., studying neuromuscular biomechanics. I also performed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Neurological Sciences Institute in Portland, Oregon, to work on human balance.
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Post-Docs

Peter Adamczyk

Me and my beautiful and talented wife Marianne
Me, my beautiful and talented wife Marianne, and our lovely and lively daughter Cecilia





p.g.adamczyk@gmail.com

Education:
BS, Mechanical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, 2002
MSE, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, 2003
Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, 2008

Current Research:
I am investigating the link between the mechanics and energy requirements of human walking. The amount of mechanical work performed during the transition from one stance leg to the next greatly influences the metabolic cost of walking. I use simple models of walking to understand changes in the work and metabolic cost associated with this "step-to-step transition" when different parameters of gait are changed experimentally.


Much of my Ph.D. work focused on the importance of the shape of the foot in walking energetics. The natural foot acts like a smoothly curved rigid foot during the stance phase of walking (as opposed to the swing phase) (Hansen et al, 2004, Clinical Biomechanics). For feet without ankles, the cost of walking is better on long, smoothly curved feet than for flat or pointy feet. (publication: The advantages of a rolling foot in human walking.)

I am also developing simple tools for measuring and quantifying the behavior and performance of a person in walking, and attempting to weave these metrics into an intuitive paradigm for understanding gait. At present, this work is focused on interpreting gait through fluctuations in body Center-of-Mass (COM) velocity. A plot of the COM velocity vector throughout a step or stride, called a COM Hodograph, can be used to identify normal and abnormal features of an individual's gait, and may provide useful guidance rehabilitative gait training in clinical settings. A brief description and some examples of COM hodographs for different gaits are shown in this poster (Prepared for Dynamic Walking 2008).

Finally, I am working on developing prosthetic feet that exploit the principles under study in the HBCL to save energy for amputees. On existing feet, walking costs at least 20% more energy for amputees than for non-amputees, and does not differ among feet. I think we can do better! I am working through Intelligent Prosthetic Systems, LLC, in partnership with the HBCL, to develop new foot prostheses that provide metabolic energy savings for amputees during walking.

Past Research:
For my MSE degree, I developed an advanced model of a six-wheel-steering, six-wheel-drive off-road omnidirectional vehicle (ODV) named "TARDEC-1" (Lightweight robotic mobility: template-based modeling for dynamics and controls using ADAMS/car and MATLAB). This model glued together ADAMS/Car software for dynamic simulations and MATLAB/Simulink software for controls. My work built upon a physical prototype and a simple kinematic model developed by the CSOIS at Utah State, under funding from the US Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Command (TARDEC).

For my BSE degree, I worked on concept specifications for a hydraulic reciprocal-gait trunk-hip-knee-ankle-foot orthosis (THKAFO) for patients with spinal cord injury, developed at the Cleveland FES Center. This orthosis is human-powered under Functional Electrical Stimulation control, and the mechanism was designed to transfer power from one leg to the other.
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Graduate Students

Nathaniel Skinner

Nathaniel Skinner
nskinner@umich.edu
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~nskinner

Education
BE/BA, Mechanical Engineering/Philosophy, Stevens Institute of Technology,2008
PhD Student, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan

Research Interests
biomechanics, robotics, machine learning


Current Research
Presently working on developing a a rehabilitative exercise aimed at influencing effort levels of weakened limbs.

See the play-by-play
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Karl Zelik

Karl Zelik
kzelik@umich.edu
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~kzelik

Education
BS-MS, Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St Louis, 2007
PhD Student, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan

Research Interests
prostheses/orthoses, human-machine interfaces, biomechanics of locomotion

Current Research
Presently, lower-limb amputees expend significantly more energy than intact individuals during walking, limiting mobility and restricting daily activity. My current research focuses on understanding and improving prosthetic foot technology through the use of passive dynamic mechanisms and concepts. In additional to lower limb prostheses, future research may additionally branch into the areas of human energy harvesting or myoelectric/neural control.

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John Rebula

John Rebula
Ph.D. Candidate
jrebula@umich.edu

Education:
S.B., Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006

Research Interests:
Mechanics and control of locomotion, Robotics, Dynamic Model Based State Estimation

Current Research:
I am currently investigating methods of performing kinematic measurements of human motion in a non-lab setting using Inertial Measurement Units. One application is a wireless mobile gait lab that subjects wear for long periods of time (months), which can help identify and diagnose individuals who are at risk for falls. It can also yield lifestyle data that is difficult to measure in lab settings, allowing us to better analyze the effect of different prostheses on quality of life, as opposed to relying on lab-based indicators (metabolics, preferred walking speed).




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Shawn O'Connor

Shawn O'Connor
Ph.D. Candidate
smoconno@umich.edu

Education:
BS, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2004
MSE, Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, 2006

Research Interests:
Mechanics and control of locomotion, passive dynamic walking, sensorimotor control of balance

Current Research:
I am using simulation and human experiments to investigate how the legs generate force and balance the body during gait.

I am developing a simple passive locomotion model with compliant legs. The model produces a variety of gait behaviors such as walking, skipping, and running. In each of these gaits, the compliant behavior models the action of muscle and tendon. Our findings may provide insight on how humans tune their bodies to save energy or change gaits, and on how robots could be designed to locomote economically.

Walking balance is achieved by placing the feet in such a way that the body’s motion is redirected as support is transferred from one leg to another. I am interested in studying how vision is used for guiding this foot placement. We are using a virtual reality environment to perturb the visual field and test model-based hypotheses of how vision should be used to control balance. These studies may explain how vision is used and integrated for walking control and may lead to improvements in our understanding of how to treat and assist patients with sensory loss or deficits.
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Undergraduate Students

Jeremy Brown

Education:
BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan 2008
BS, Applied Physics, Morehouse College, 2009

Research Interest:
Biomechanics of Human Movement, Legged Locomotion, Human-Machine Interaction, Medical Device Design

Current Research:
I am currently investigating the effects of foot-length asymmetries on the energetic cost of walking. My experiment involves the use of a arc-shaped wooden shoes and simulator boots to prohibit the use of the ankle. I am in the pilot stages of testing, and have conducted a few subject tests with shoe length variations between eight and twelve inches. Future pilot tests will involve the use of shoes ranging from six to fourteen inches in length. The results of this study could potentially be used to better understand the energetic cost of walking on prosthetic feet of varying sizes.
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Wisit Jirattigalachote

Wisit Jirattigalachote

Education:
BS (Dec '08), Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan

Current Research:
At HBCL, we have developed a class library of human walking models based on the concept of an inverted pendulum using Matlab. However, Matlab has a limited ability in model animation. In order to create model animations to be more attractive, I am developing an interface that can automate the animation in 3ds Max from our pre-existing Matlab animation. Simultaneously, I am trying to fully understand the fundamentals and capabilities of our existing walking models and hopefully being able to further develop and extend our class library to a broader model that not only limited to human walking.
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Yiqi Gao



Yiqi Gao
yqgao@umich.com

Education
BS(Apr '09), Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan.

Current Research
I am currently working on the "energy saving(harvesting) backpack". It has been proved that by suspending the load of a backpack on springs and allow it to oscillate vertically, people can save energy while walking compared with having the same load in a traditional backpack. This suspended-load backpack also have potential in human energy harvesting. By trying different spring stiffnesses and looking at their effects on energy cost, we hope to deepen our understanding of this energy saving mechanism.
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Megan Moore

Megan Moore
megmmoor@umich.edu

Education
BS (Dec '08), MS(SGUS) (June '09), Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan

Current Research
My main summer project is to find the metabolic cost of stabilizing oneself while standing. The energy spent while standing can basically be attributed to the work done to simply stay alive, to support one's weight vertically, and to stabilize oneself. I'm working on quantifying the latter by providing external stabilization at different locations on the body to perform metabolic testing and compare to the unstabilized condition.
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Alumni

Alumni Link - Click Here


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