MEET THE KEYNOTE: MATTHEW BRYANT
Matthew Bryant is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NC State University and the director of the Intelligent Systems and Structures Research Lab (iSSRL). Dr. Bryant received the B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Bucknell University in 2007 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Dr. Bryant’s research interests include the dynamics and control of smart structures and mechatronic systems with applications to novel actuation techniques, energy harvesting devices, fluid-structure interactions, and robotics in the land, air, and underwater domains. Dr. Bryant is the recipient of the Teledyne Scientific Partner of the Year Award in 2015, the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2012, the Oliver J. Decker Prize in 2007, and the Ernest and Josephine Christensen Award in 2007. Since beginning his faculty position in 2013, Dr. Bryant has been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation, DARPA, and the North Carolina Space Grant.
Nature offers myriad examples of highly-optimized solutions to problems ranging from sensor design to multifunctional structures to locomotion modalities. While often beautiful to observe and mimic superficially, much more substantive technological gains can be achieved by developing an understanding of the complex ways living organisms interact with and manipulate their environments. Taking advantage of bio-inspiration motivates us to develop and leverage phenomenological models, design techniques, transducers, and structures beyond what traditional engineering practice has offered.
In this talk, I will highlight several research efforts in applying multidisciplinary bio-inspired engineering design, active materials and structures, and multi-domain coupling to create novel energy harvesters, actuators, and robotic systems. I will present ongoing work that aims to take advantage of fish-like oscillating fins or membranes for harvesting kinetic energy from wind and water flows. This problem leads to modeling and experimental investigations of coupling and interactions among the fluidic, structural, and electrical domains, as well as advantageous nonlinear, unsteady, and multi-body dynamic behaviors. Another research thrust draws inspiration from the variable recruitment capabilities of natural skeletal muscle to develop soft fluidic actuators that improve efficiency by adaptively varying their active geometry. This approach can allow a compliant actuator bundle to selectively pressurize or vent actuation elements to perform online force control and mechanical impedance matching while minimizing fluid energy consumption and valve throttling losses. Finally, I will discuss progress and opportunities in designing robots and unmanned vehicles with bio-inspired architectures and operating concepts.