ME Seminar on "Research and Design: how the intersection of fundamental and applied research converges during new product development"


Monday, April 14, 2014 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm


ESB 1001


Tom Mackin, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Cal Poly

Abstract:  Product design generally responds to an expressed need for an engineered system to meet a new, or more demanding, set of requirements.  These requirements at times involve incremental improvements that are faster, cheaper, and more reliable but, occasionally, demand the assembly of totally new sub-systems. In either case, the design process results in a mash-up of existing and new technologies.  This will be demonstrated using a case study on the development of an autonomous mobile target system.   Our autonomous robot was developed in response to an emerging customer requirement for ‘more realistic’ force training.  Our approach was to address this need using an autonomous robotic platform that designed to exhibit ‘human-appropriate’ behavior.  In short, out robotic system had to move and react like a human in a conflict situation.  In addition to realistic adversary behavior, the system had to automatically score trainees against a prescribed set of requirements. The robot also had to be self-correcting, able to run continuously for 4 hours, and to withstand the harsh demands of outdoor training.   These demanding requirements drove the design of a new platform, scoring-system, battery and novel materials systems.   This talk will present an overview of the design, prototyping and testing of this autonomous robotic system as well as the R&D required to develop each subsystem.     

Bio:  Tom Mackin is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo California, and an Adjunct Professor in the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Post Graduate School. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Penn State in 1991, where he developed new methods of analyzing the failure of ceramic materials.  Dr. Mackin has served as an ASME Executive Office Fellow in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and as a technology policy analyst and White House Liaison to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, as well as White House Liaison to the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program.   Dr. Mackin also served as an advisor for the Discovery Channel on a television reality show that was based on survivors following of a cataclysmic event and their scientific solutions to problems using materials they had available. He is a co-founder of the Center for Collaborative Engineering Research and Education (CCERE) with UCSB, and the Center for Renewable Energy and Alternative Transportation Technologies at Cal Poly. 

Host:  Prof. Bradley Paden

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