Marquette Opus College of Engineering receives three grants worth $630,459

November 29, 2016

Grants will fund two projects and start a robotics program within local high schools

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University's Opus College of Engineering has received three grants worth $630,459 to fund two projects and start a robotics program within some Milwaukee Public Schools.

"From primary schools to our advanced research, we are developing technologies, knowledge and skill sets for tomorrow's workforce," said Dr. Kristina Ropella, dean of the college. "We continue to place an emphasis on manufacturing, and these grants help us fuel our leadership in innovation and workforce development in the greater Milwaukee area."

The grants are:

$260,459 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Dr. Henry Medeiros, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, was awarded a two-year grant to work on improvements in vision-based manipulation by mobile robots used in manufacturing. His research team will fit mobile robots with cameras and develop algorithms that improve their ability to track artifacts while they move.

Currently, most robots in manufacturing are set up in large fixed stations, called robotic cells, and fenced off. The development of a flexible system has the potential to significantly increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.

"The ultimate goal of the project is to move toward the idea of flexible manufacturing where a small robot can go around to different places and perform different tasks," Medeiros said.

$210,000 from the Johnson Controls Foundation

The college's Outreach Department has been awarded a three-year grant to start the ABC Robots program within 23 Milwaukee schools, including 11 in Milwaukee Public Schools, and to fund the college's Engineering Leadership Academy.

Undergraduate students will work with the high school and middle schools to put together robotics programs, and will use money from the grant to purchase equipment. In addition, money from the grant will be used to help some of the 40 high school seniors who participate annually in the summer leadership program and have a financial need with transportation and other costs.

"We need to reach these students early enough so they stay on a path to pursue engineering," said Dr. Mark Federle, associate dean for academic affairs.

$160,000 from the National Science Foundation Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power

Marquette is now a member of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power. The center is a network of fluid power research laboratories, academic faculty, graduate and undergraduate students at Marquette and eight other universities.

Dr. Mark Nagurka, associate professor of mechanical engineering, has been awarded a two-year grant for a project titled "Efficient, Integrated, Freeform Flexible Hydraulic Actuators."

This project seeks to redefine the state-of-the-art in hydraulic actuation and machinery. Nagurka, the PI for the project, and doctoral student Jonathon Slightam are using flexible hydraulic actuators and additive manufacturing to reduce weight and energy consumption in motion control systems.

Project goals include increasing the specific power of hydraulic actuation technology and reducing energy consumption in hydraulic machines.