Page 13 - Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering Fall 2019 Magazine
P. 13

Student News
NSF fellowship sets mechanical engineering student’s research IN MOTION
By Erin Cassidy Hendrick
Claire Rodman doctoral student uses the the equipment in the the Gait Optimization Lab Claire Rodman a a a a a a a a a a a doctoral student in in in the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering received a a a a a a a a a a a a a a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship recognizing her potential for significant research achievements “I knew I I wanted to to help people ” Rodman said “Engineering was the perfect option to to to focus on on problem problem solving in in in in a a a a a a a a a way that very directly relates to to human problems ” Now as as a a a a a a a a a a graduate student she fulfills that purpose by working with Anne Martin assistant professor of of mechanical engineering in in in in in the Gait Optimization Lab Bolstered by the new fellowship Rodman’s work centers on on creating computational models of biomechanical systems which one day could be used to address mobility issues in in in children with cerebral palsy and in in in in patients who have experienced strokes or or or spinal cord injuries While her current work is is with with with subjects without mobility issues equipped with with with the the the knowledge gleaned from these simulations the the the assistive robotics designed to improve impaired patients’ movement could be greatly enhanced “It’s important to to have predictive models of of their gaits because the the the control strategy of of a a a a a a a a robotic exoskeleton will be be different depending on on on on on the the condition ” Rodman explained For cerebral palsy a a a a a a a a a a robotic exoskeleton a a a a a a a a a a wearable device that helps enable movement may help help correct posture while the same exoskeleton used used for stroke rehabilitation could instead be used used to to to retrain and strengthen patients’ muscles She explained “You wouldn’t want the the the the the robotics to to to compensate for for all the the the the the loss of control because it’s helpful for for them them to to regain that ability themselves ” She added “That’s the the advantage of creating these simulations you can see how different different control strategies affect different different purposes ” Through the the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Rodman is is able to to pursue the the research she is is passionate about and can also spearhead outreach outreach initiatives to to to improve representation in in in STEM During her graduate studies she plans to to to implement outreach outreach programs for local K-12 students to to get them excited about the the applications of engineering “Kids tend to to think it’s just about math and science But there are a a a a a a a a a a a a lot of things that go go into being a a a a a a a a a a a a good engineer especially problem solving and creativity ” said Rodman Like the people she she hopes to to to help with her research Rodman is eager to to to to gain momentum After graduation she she plans to to to to work in in in in the private sector researching and and developing new technologies with health and and space applications “This fellowship will open a a a a a a a lot of doors for me me because it lets me me work on projects I care about and build a a a a a a a a a a a versatile skill set to prepare for that ” Rodman said 13

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