LURA/USRA Posting Information

Position Type:

  • Lassonde Undergraduate Research Award- summer research

Position Title: Research Assistant/summer researcher

Location: IDEA LAB (BRG 413)

Professor: Alex Czekanski

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Contact for Professor (Email, phone):, 416.736.2100 x 77077

# of positions available: 1

Project Description:

Title: Characterization and Optimization of an Elastomer Based Soft Actuator

Inspired by natural muscle, a key challenge in soft robotics is to develop self-contained electrically driven soft actuators with high strain density. Various characteristics of existing technologies, such as the high voltages required to trigger electroactive polymers (>1KV), low strain (<10%) of shape memory alloys and the need for external compressors and pressure-regulating components for hydraulic or pneumatic fluidic elastomer actuators, limit their practicality for untethered applications.

The objective of this research is to repeat the recently released research by Miriyev et al [1], and then investigate possible improvements such as alternate phase-change liquids, different elastomers and active cooling.

1.      Miriyev, A., Stack, K., & Lipson, H. (2017). Soft material for soft actuators. Nature Communications, 8(1), 1–8.

Duties and Responsibilities of the student:

This research is comprised of the following tasks

1.      Student is to run a literature review on the design and production of soft actuators.

2.      Reproducing the actuators as described by Miriyev et al.

3.      Characterizing the performance of the actuators.

4.      Investigate alternate designs (different materials, different geometries, etc)

5.      The student will summarize their findings in a report.

Skills and Qualifications:

(Technical Skills)

1.        Office Skills (Word, Excel)

2.        Matlab

3.        Machine shop and prototyping skills

(Interpersonal Skills)

1.        Ability to work in team environment

2.        Ability to work with minimum supervision

Degrees, courses and Disciplines prerequisite*:

1.        Mechanics of materials (MECH 2301)

2.        Machine elements design (MECH 2409)

3.        Macro-and-Micro Manufacturing Methods (MECH 3503)

4.        Solid Mechanics and Materials Laboratory (MECH 3502)

Stipend: TBD

Willing to host external students? No

Duration: 16 weeks minimum

Start Date: 05/01/2018 (estimated)

End Date: 08/31/2018 (estimated)

Materials required for application: TBC

If you are interested in this project, please contact Dr. Czekanski directly via