As advanced as modern machines are, the building blocks have changed little since the industrial revolution - structure, motors and gears are typically rigid, bulky and heavy. Future machines will be soft, elastically deformable and lightweight, lending them to applications such as soft robots, conformable wearable devices, and safe human-machine interfaces. Progress toward these next-generation soft machines is an interplay between the development of new soft active materials for actuation and sensing, adaptive controllers that will account for the non-linear and time-varying behaviors displayed by soft materials, and scalable manufacturing processes for soft materials. This talk will highlight the work of the Purdue Faboratory in developing processes, techniques, and tools for active elastic/soft skins that will enable lightweight, compact, robust, and reconfigurable soft and wearable robots.
Bio: Rebecca Kramer is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. She completed her B.S. (2007) in Mechanical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University, M.S. (2008) in Mechanical Engineering at the U.C. Berkeley, and Ph.D. (2012) in Engineering Sciences at Harvard University. At Purdue, she founded the Purdue Fabrication Laboratory (``The Faboratory''), which contains a leading facility for the rapid design, fabrication, and analysis of materially soft and multifunctional mechanisms. Her current research interests involve soft and stretchable electronics, responsive material actuators, manufacturing with soft materials, and control of soft-bodied systems. She is the winner of a 2014 NASA Early Career Faculty Award, a 2015 NSF CAREER Award, and she was named to the 2015 Forbes' 30 under 30 list.