Moriah Henning at the Utah Conference for Undergraduate Research

Moriah Henning, a senior in Mechanical Engineering, presented a poster at the Utah Conference for Undergraduate Research (UCUR) at Weber State on Friday, February 22nd. The conference is modeled after the National Conference for Undergraduate Research and invites undergraduates from all disciplines to apply. It provides a great opportunity for undergraduates to share their work in a scholarly setting to other students, faculty, and community members from all over Utah.

Moriah completed two semesters of research under Dr. Andrew Merryweather on characterizing the open-source, 3D-printed, InMoov robotic hand as part of the the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). She analyzed the hand’s limitations and abilities through computer and physical testing to better understand improvements that could be made to the design. Presenting at UCUR gave her the opportunity to meet other undergraduate students doing research and to share her own research outside the lab.

Rooftop-Fall Protection

The U Capstone Rooftop-Fall Protection Team.
(From left to right: Kyle Somer, Gary Hsu, Zachary Zwahlen, Clancy Van Dyke, Hunter Bernstein, and Aimee Morgan.
Not pictured are Michel Goulet, Jeremiah Wangsgard, and Ken d’Entremont.)

Prof. Ken d’Entremont of the Ergonomics & Safety Program is advisor to a team of U Capstone students who are seeking to improve the safety of rooftop workers.  This is a group of six undergraduate Mechanical-Engineering students at the University of Utah.  As part of the U Capstone Program, these students participate in a two-semester course sequence in which they apply the design, analysis, and testing skills that they learned in their earlier courses.  Their aim is to design and test a simple and practical system for those people working on residential structures.  Although laws already exist that require fall-protection devices or systems for many rooftop workers, cost or inconvenience may keep employers and workers from using fall protection.

The team and their advisor are each grateful to Mr. Michel Goulet and Mr. Jeremiah Wangsgard of Petzl America for their technical support of this project.  Indeed, it was their concern for the safety of workers performing their jobs at elevation that was the genesis of this U Capstone Project.  They have taken the time to meet with the team at their training facility in Salt Lake City at several key points in the design and development stages of the project.  The project is now entering the testing stage and headed for completion at the end of the Spring Semester.

Construction workers and others at high risk of fall injury include roofers, solar-panel installers, satellite-dish installers, and wind-turbine technicians.  Yahoo! Finance recently showed a graphic of the fastest-growing job in each state.  Out of 50 states, thirteen had fastest-growing jobs that have high fall risks.

Each year, falls from elevation account for almost 39% of the almost 1000 construction-related deaths each year.  Rooftop falls make up 31% of all fall fatalities with the remainder distributed among falls from ladders, scaffolding, or other hazards.  Those working for small construction firms (fewer than 10 employees) make up over 60% of fall-related fatalities.  Hispanic workers are at an even-higher risk of deaths due to construction fall injuries.  (These numbers do not include slips, trips, and falls onto the same elevation.)

Mr. Amir Yazdani (Ph.D. 2019) Presents at the 7th CDC/NIOSH NOIRS (National Occupational Injury Research Symposium), Morgantown, WV

The 7th National Occupational Injury Research Symposium – NOIRS – was held October 16-18, 2018 in Morgantown, WV.

NOIRS is the only national forum focused on the presentation of occupational injury research. The Symposium brings together researchers, academicians, labor union representatives, safety professionals, industry leaders, and students from multiple disciplines and fields to advance the public health mission of keep workers safe. This year’s theme was: Advancing Worker Safety in the 21st Century Through Research and Practice.

Senior Design Team Invited to Dublin, Ireland!

Advised by mechanical engineering assistant professor Andrew Merryweather, the senior design project Wearable Tremor Damping Device, was selected as one of the six finalists for the 2018 Undergraduate Design Project Competition in Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices at the 8th World Congress of Biomechanics July 8-12, 2018, Dublin, Ireland. There the team was given the opportunity to present their design at a special podium presentation.

Ms. Mikaela Hayward and Prof. Andrew S. Merryweather are pictured above in Dublin.  The entire team is pictured below and from, left to right, are MEEN BS 2018 Seniors Kory Cross, Irsyad Badri, Mikaela Hayward, Quincy Stevens, and Hyrum Peterson.

https://mech.utah.edu/senior-design-team-invited-to-dublin-ireland/

Terrain Display Study

Mockup Environment (with imbedded force plates) used for initial gait testing
Mockup Environment (with imbedded force plates) used for initial gait testing
Participant with Parkinson's navigating the Mockup Terrain in passive motion capture markers
Participant with Parkinson’s navigating the Mockup Terrain in passive motion capture markers

Parkinsons disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease associated with a deficiency in healthy dopaminergic neurons that can result in a slew of motor disabilities. Due to the effects of the disease, patients with PD have a very high risk of falling. Under the direction of Dr. Mark Minor (PI), a team of researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Physical Therapy have joined together to develop technology and methods to understand PD gait and revolutionize training therapy to reduce falls. This work is funded by the National Science Foundation (#1162131).

V3D model portraying gait observed on the Mockup Terrain
V3D model portraying gait observed on the Mockup Terrain

Pediatric Adaptive Skiing System – Undergraduate Research

Jacob Hopkins BS '16, University of Utah Mechanical Engineering, working on undergraduate research within the Ergonomics and Safety Laboratory
Jacob Hopkins BS ’16, University of Utah Mechanical Engineering, working on undergraduate research within the Ergonomics and Safety Laboratory

The pediatric adaptive skiing system is one of more than nine funded undergraduate research projects under way at any given time within the Department of Mechanical Engineering. It is also one of over 250 funded undergraduate research projects campus-wide.   Working to build a pediatric adaptive skiing system, mechanical engineering sophomore Jacob Hopkin says, “It will be a novel device able to adapt to children with different levels of disabilities, as well as progress with these users as they learn to ski.”

Along with fellow mechanical engineering student Dallin Rees, Hopkins works one-on-one with mechanical engineering assistant professor Andrew Merryweather in the  Ergonomics and Safety Lab. “Dr. Merryweather is awesome! He is always willing to take time out of his day to meet. In fact, he almost missed an abstract submission because of his willingness. Sorry!”

Pediatric Adaptive Ski System: a device able to adapt to children with different levels of disabilities as well as progress with them as they learn to ski
Pediatric Adaptive Ski System: a device able to adapt to children with different levels of disabilities as well as progress with them as they learn to ski

Merryweather and Hopkins are hoping to have their skis on the snow soon for preliminary testing with the finished product deliverable in February.

From Pocatello, Idaho, Hopkins notes that, “Between loving everything outdoors, i.e. skiing, mountain biking, running, and a great engineering program, the University of Utah was a natural choice for me. Campus lies in an ideal area for all of those activities and beyond that, the U’s mechanical engineering program is competitive with the most prestigious in the west.”

“One of the benefits of majoring in mechanical engineering is that mechanical engineers know some of all engineering disciplines, which I believe makes for a more rounded engineer. Additionally, I like choices and a mechanical engineering degree opens the door for an advanced degree in other engineering majors. Regarding my current research, I love the project. It combines a large number of my interests. Plus, I am able to directly give back to the community.”

Device engineered by mechanical engineering seniors helps to expand outdoor activities for people with spinal cord injuries

 

(Al Hartmann-The Salt Lake Tribune) Danny Salazar uses a device developed by engineers at the University of Utah to steer a sailboat by slipping or blowing into a tube.  Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbluth, a rehabilitation doctor with the University of Utah, rides along with him on the boat. Salazar had never been on the water in his life, but sail for the first time at East Canyon Reservoir with TRAILS. TRAILS stands for Therapeutic Recreation & Independent Lifestyles that helps people with spinal cord injuries learn how to do outdoor-related actives like kayaking, sailing and camping.
(Al Hartmann-The Salt Lake Tribune) Danny Salazar uses a device developed by engineers at the University of Utah to steer a sailboat by slipping or blowing into a tube. Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbluth, a rehabilitation doctor with the University of Utah, rides along with him on the boat. Salazar had never been on the water in his life, but sail for the first time at East Canyon Reservoir with TRAILS. TRAILS stands for Therapeutic Recreation & Independent Lifestyles that helps people with spinal cord injuries learn how to do outdoor-related actives like kayaking, sailing and camping.

Salt Lake Tribune: “We used to literally prescribe this kind of activity. We now try to make it part of the rehabilitation experience from the beginning,” Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbluth said. As director of the university’s spinal cord injury program, Rosenbluth typically works with his patients in a clinical setting. “Just knowing this possibility is out there is an amazing part of the process. Everything we do is sustainable. This is not diversionary recreation. It is something people with spinal cord injuries can do all the time.”

Danny Salazar can’t move his arms and legs, and he has a hard time breathing on his own. But the 29-year-old can blow and suck air through his mouth just enough to control a modified Mirage Tandem Island sailboat built by Hobie.

Salazar controlled the sailboat’s rudder via a “sip and puff” system like the ones used on wheelchairs. A senior project team of mechanical engineers from the University of Utah worked for two semesters on the sailboat. (Full Salt Lake Tribune story)

UofU Mechanical Engineering E-tetra Kayak Team: L-R, Zak Evans, Michael Myers, Raleigh Cornwell, Calab Perkins, Chris Cosman, and Orlando Cintron. Not pictured are advisors: Andrew Merryweather, Ph.D., Donald Bloswick, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Rosenbluth, MD. The E-Tetra provides a bridge between motorized wheelchair technologies and the world of sea kayaking and presents some exciting achievable possibilities to users of all ability levels, especially users with limited to no use of their arms and lower extremities.
UofU Mechanical Engineering E-tetra Kayak Team: L-R, Zak Evans, Michael Myers, Raleigh Cornwell, Calab Perkins, Chris Cosman, and Orlando Cintron. Not pictured are advisors: Andrew Merryweather, Ph.D., Donald Bloswick, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Rosenbluth, MD. The E-Tetra provides a bridge between motorized wheelchair technologies and the world of sea kayaking and presents some exciting achievable possibilities to users of all ability levels, especially users with limited to no use of their arms and lower extremities.

Green Machine selected nationally as one of six to compete

SONY DSCThe University of Utah Department of Mechanical Engineering Green Machine team was selected as one of six-finalist undergraduate projects nationwide invited to compete in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Bioengineering 2013 Undergraduate Design Project Competition in Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices. The competition was held June 26-29, in Sunriver, Oregon.

The Green Machine is an autonomous garden cart that follows the user around the yard.  The green machine also has the ability to lift and dump to a height of a standard size trashcan.  Team members are mechanical engineering seniors, Taylor Grenis (lead), Brian Hutchings, Bryan Van Horssen, Clay Williams, and Kolby Sorenson.  Their faculty advisors are Larry DeVries, distinguished professor and Andrew Merryweather, assistant professor in mechanical engineering.

The students generated the original idea for this project.  Team member Kolby Sorenson noted, “Having grandparents who love to garden, but struggle to transport soil, plants, and rocks around their yards, we realized that an electric yard wagon could help them to do what they loved.  Then we realized that this machine could help all people with physical disabilities.  It could do the heavy lifting for them, and follow them to wherever they needed it.”

Sorenson continued, “We were expecting advice on Solid Mechanics and Dynamics calculations, from our faculty advisor, mechanical engineering Distinguished Professor Larry DeVries.  He surprised us with a wealth of knowledge we were not expecting.  In addition to the technical needs, he helped us to make the Green Machine user-friendly and to construct our project schedule.  He even donated his stipend from the NSF grant back into the project.”

The Green Machine undergraduate project was one of 23 senior design projects showcased during the Department of Mechanical Engineering Design Day held on April 16, 2013, in the Olpin Union Building.  The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah is committed to providing students with broad-based, rigorous and progressive education.  By combining state-of-the-art facilities with renowned faculty, the department provides an education that gives students the necessary skills to become the next generation of innovators.

Utah Mechanical Engineering students win Ergonomics Competition

ergoAwardAndrew

ErgoLink, a design team made up of students from the University of Utah’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, won first place in the eTools Ergonomic Design Competition on march 22, 2010 for demonstrating superior ability to solve ergonomic related design problems. The event was sponsored by Auburn Engineers Inc.

“We had to redesign a backpack and a hand-held packaging tape dispenser—two common consumer products—as part of a multi-phase competition,” said Rami Shorti, ErgoLink’s team leader and mechanical engineering student at the University of Utah. “Our team was able to evaluate both products, and come up with innovative ways to improve their overall design, making them more ergonomically sound.”

As part of their evaluation process of the backpack, members of ErgoLink surveyed fellow college students to see how they used their backpacks, how much weight they usually carried in them, and which features they would like to see improved. After completing their evaluation, Ergo Link decided to make the backpack thinner by moving the center of mass closer to the body, reducing moment or torque on the lower back. They also added wider shoulder straps to help distribute the weight and reduce stress on the shoulders.

ErgoLink competed against seven teams from six universities and was presented with the award at the 13th annual Applied Ergonomics Conference. ErgoLink’s team members are: Rami Shorti (Team Leader), Sree Harsha Jampala, James Nolin, Chris Brammer, and Jason Kraft.

Evaluating Knee Joint Stresses During Kneeling Work

Goal of the Project:

Evaluate the effectiveness of knee pads and other protective equipment designed to reduce loading of the knees while performing kneeling work. Identify optimum materials and designs to develop an educational campaign that disseminates information to reduce exposure to hazards that have been associated with the development of knee osteoarthritis.

Summary of progress:

Literature Review:

A literature review was conducted with some of the key words like “Knee”, “Osteoarthritis”, “Kneeling”, “Injury”, “Workplace”. The papers related to the workplace injury due to kneeling, squatting etc were collected. From the numerous papers collected only the papers related to the current topic were studied and used. Most of the papers collected have significant importance in background for the project. From the literature review only couple of papers were found which had a significant amount of relation with the project. These papers are

a) Exposure Assessment of Kneeling Work Activities among Floor Layers by Jensen LK
External knee forces were measured in five different kneeling work positions in 10 floor layers using computer dynography. The study showed that floor layer spent significant amount of time in knee straining positions.
b) Pressures Applied to Anatomical Landmarks of the Knee while in Kneeling Postures by Moore SM
The objective of this study was to determine the pressure applied to the knee during static postures used in low seam mining, with and without knee pads.  Three postures were simulated kneeling in full flexion, kneeling at 90o of knee flexion and kneeling on one knee.
These papers did an analysis of the pressure being experience by the knee during different kneeling postures. These initial literature studies helped with knowing the effects of kneeling on the knee joint, also in preparing the questionnaires for the subjects performing the task.

Sensors Design and Testing:

FSR Interlink Electronics
FSR Interlink Electronics
In order to measure the pressure applied on the knee joint a pressure sensors have to be developed. These pressure sensors will be placed on the knee of the subjects. These sensors will measure the pressure produced in the knee of the subjects performing kneeling work. Hence the designing and testing of these sensors become very important in conducting of the project.

In the process of developing the sensors the first step is to search for the appropriate sensor which is thin and also can measure high pressures. There are many pressure sensors available but depending on our requirement and cost we selected the Force Sensing Resistors (FSRs) which were produced by Interlink Electronics. The FSRs are a polymer thick film device which exhibits a decrease in resistance with an increase in the force applied to the active surface. Once the first task of selecting the sensors was completed the nest task was to design a circuit which would read the output from the sensors. Some of the circuits were suggested by the Interlink Electronics and one of the very basic circuit was considered. The required material for building the circuit was bought and arranged as given in the FSR manual.

Figure 1: Basic circuit used in reading the FSR output
Figure 1: Basic circuit used in reading the FSR output; where FSR is the pressure sensor, RM is the resistor in the voltage divider in our case whose value is 10kΩ, LM324 and LM358 Op-amps were considered, Input voltage is 5V and the output voltage is measured using a multimeter.
This initial circuit was tested and calibrated to calculate the voltage output for an applied load. A dynamometer was used in measuring the applied load on the FSRs. Once the calibration was completed it showed that though the initial difference in voltage for change in force was larger it reduced as the force increase. Hence amplification of the output voltage was considered and the values were recalibrated. The circuit was tested with two times amplification firstly and then with an amplification of three times. It was noticed that sensors with larger area yielded desired results with two times amplification and sensors with smaller area yielded desired results with three times amplification. This output was to be fed into a vicon system so that the output can be easily transferred in the computer and its input voltage was limited to 10V (a voltage above 10V as input would show nothing but a straight line in the output display i.e, it clips off the higher voltage). Since the amplification of three times for sensors with smaller area never reached 10V, they were used in the circuit with three times amplification but the sensors with larger area were used with two times amplification.

enter table here

voltageGraph

Circuit board with all required components soldered
Circuit board with all required components soldered
After selection of the amplification and calibration for the circuit then the next step is to decide on the number of sensors and the placement of the sensors. In order to decide on the placement of the sensors on the knee a pressure plate was used. A trail run was conducted with kneeling on the pressure plate and conducting different kneeling tasks so that the shift in center of mass of the person can be seen and from this the placement of the sensors can be decided. Eight sensors are distributed on the knee depending on the data obtained from the pressure plate. In order to handle eight sensors on each knee the LM324 Op-amp is used.
A permanent circuit board has been prepared based on testing circuit on a solderable circuit board with sensors connected to it as shown in the figure on the right.

Epoxy has been used to seal the connection of sensors with the wires so that they are prevented from any kind of breakage. Epoxy is thermosetting polymer formed from the reaction of an epoxide “resin” with polyamine “hardner.”

wiringepoxySensors

Upcoming Tasks:

  • Testing the sensors on subjects using different knee pads and collecting the data.

Different kinds of knee pads made by different manufacturers are considered in this study.

CLC Rubber Non-Skid Knee Pad
CLC Rubber Non-Skid Knee Pad
MiniCraft Foam Cushion Knee Pad
MiniCraft Foam Cushion Knee Pad

CLC Ultra Light Knee Pad
CLC Ultra Light Knee Pad
MiniCraft Hard Cap Knee Pad
MiniCraft Hard Cap Knee Pad

CLC Professional Gel Knee Pad
CLC Professional Gel Knee Pad
Pants used
Pants used
  • Preparation of questionnaire
  • Analyzing the collected data