News & Events


Kun ho (John) Kim Receives 2017 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


Computer science and mechanical engineering student Kun ho (John) Kim is a recipient of the 2017 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. John is working with Professors Burdick and Perona to develop novel machine learning methods for medical applications and crowd sourced data mining. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to the engineering student with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

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Modular Space Telescope Could Be Assembled By Robot


Professor Sergio Pellegrino and colleagues including Professor Joel Burdick, are proposing a space observatory with a 100 meters diameter primary mirror. Their design calls for the use of more than 300 deployable truss modules that could be unfolded to form a scaffolding upon which a commensurate number of small mirror plates could be placed to create a large segmented mirror. In this concept, a spider-like, six-armed "hexbot" would assemble the trusswork and then crawl across the structure to build the mirror atop it. [Caltech story]

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Crush, the RoboSub, Places in International Competition


The Caltech Robotics Team placed fourth in the 18th Annual International RoboSub Competition. The Competition is designed to introduce students to high-tech STEM fields such as maritime robotics. This year's team from Caltech was led by mechanical engineering recent graduate Justin Koch who was advised by Professor Joel Burdick. [Caltech story]

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Sink or Swim: Students Prticipate in RoboSub Competition


For the past year, a team of Caltech students, advised by Professor Joel Burdick, met at the campus pool on Sunday afternoons to prepare for the 17th Annual International RoboSub Competition. These members of the Caltech Robotics Team carefully crafted and optimized their robotic submarine named Bruce. Bruce was programmed to perform tasks such as pulling a lever, parking between two poles, and shooting little torpedoes at a target without the help of a human operator. At the competition the Caltech team received the judges' award for Best New Entry. [Caltech release]

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TEDxCaltech: Advancing Humanoid Robots


Graduate student Matanya B. Horowitz, who works with Professors Joel Burdick and John Doyle, is one of the speakers at TEDxCaltech. He is active in several Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) challenges that seek to develop better control mechanisms for robotic arms, as well as develop humanoid robots that can do human-like tasks in dangerous situations, such as disable bombs or enter nuclear power plants during an emergency. [Caltech News]

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Progress for Paraplegics


Joel W. Burdick, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, are developing new technologies to expand their research which has enabled a paraplegic man to stand and move his legs voluntarily. The team has until now used intelligent guesswork to determine which stimuli might work best. But soon, using a new algorithm developed by Professor Burdick, they will be able to rely on a computer to determine the optimum stimulation levels, based on the patient's response to previous stimuli. This would allow patients to go home after the extensive rehab process with a system that could be continually adjusted by computer. [Caltech Release] [ENGenious Progress Report]

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Student Leads New Keck Institute for Space Studies Program


Melissa M. Tanner, a Mechanical Engineering graduate student, is the student lead for a new Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) mini-program called, Tools and Algorithms for Sampling in Extreme Terrain. This program will give a handful of undergraduate students the opportunity to help develop instruments for an extreme-terrain rover called Axel, which could one day be used to explore the moon, Mars, or an asteroid. The Caltech faculty mentor to the mini-program is Joel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, who is part of the Caltech and JPL team developing Axel. [Caltech Feature]

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Professor Burdick Receives Popular Mechanics Award


Joel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues are recipients of a 2011 Breakthrough Award by Popular Mechanics for their work that helped a paralyzed man stand. The Breakthrough Innovator Awards are in recognition of "innovators whose inventions will make the world smarter, safer, and more efficient in the years to come." [Popular Mechanics Article] [Caltech Feature]

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Stimulating Electrode Array Assists Paraplegic Man to Stand and Move Legs Voluntarily


Joel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues including Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, have used a stimulating electrode array to assist a paralyzed man to stand, step on a treadmill with assistance, and, over time, to regain voluntary movements of his limbs. Using a combination of experimentation, computational models of the array and spinal cord, and machine-learning algorithms, Professor Burdick and his colleagues are now trying to optimize the stimulation pattern to achieve the best effects, and to improve the design of the electrode array. Further advances in the technology should lead to better control of the stepping and standing processes. [Caltech Press Release]

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Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering