Highlighting Dr. Miller and Dr. Fagg’s Research Project: Progressive Locomotor Learning in Infants at Risk for Cerebral Palsy

Dr. David Miller and Dr. Andrew Fagg are working with researchers and children all over the country to develop a device called the Self-Initiated Prone Progression Crawler (SIPPC) that they hope will be a new treatment for cerebral palsy. The project is called, “Progressive Locomotor Learning in Infants at Risk for Cerebral Palsy.”

Pictured is a child on the SIPPC 3 developed during a NSF NRI grant in 2015. The PIs were: Andy Fagg, David Miller, Lei Ding, and Thubi Kolobe. The grad students from AME that worked on this were Michael Nash and Mustafa Ghazi, both of whom have since graduated (Ph.D. in 2018). Currently, Mustafa Ghazi, as a PostDoc is working on the current version of the SIPPC for the most recent grant. Photo by Hugh Scott.

The research project was given its first grant in 2013, and the researchers (including undergraduate, graduate, and Postdoc students) were ready to create the SIPPC. According to Dr. Miller, “people are at risk for cerebral palsy, but there isn’t a diagnosis that’s done in the age group [they’re] dealing with.” There are, “children at risk for cerebral palsy because they’ve had some sort of trauma either during the birth process or while in the womb.” It’s usually that they’re not moving normally. So, to test the children’s mobility, they evaluate two different groups on the SIPPC. One group has a set of infants that are developing typically, and the other group has infants at risk for cerebral palsy.

Researchers are working on different aspects of this project from coast to coast. In Philadelphia, they bring in and work with all participating patients. In California, they are developing a set of sensors that are protocol for random leg movements in the first few months of child development. Here at OU, they’re developing and testing the SIPPC, “and the plan is to send that off to Philadelphia.”

Pictured is a child on the SIPPC 3 developed during a NSF NRI grant in 2015. The PIs were: Andy Fagg, David Miller, Lei Ding, and Thubi Kolobe. The grad students from AME that worked on this were Michael Nash and Mustafa Ghazi, both of whom have since graduated (Ph.D. in 2018). Currently, Mustafa Ghazi, as a PostDoc is working on the current version of the SIPPC for the most recent grant. Photo by Hugh Scott.

The SIPPC has gone through several revisions. Currently, the group is on its fourth version of the motorized skateboard called SIPPC-4. It’s a motorized skateboard the kids can lie down on, but it measures all the forces of the infants. It has a force-torque sensor, wheel encoders, a few computers, and some cameras onboard. The information automatically goes to a person’s phone or iPad. It also gives an interface to a therapist, so they can control it by getting it out of corners or stopping it if the kid is crying.

“The standard mode is where the kid actually touches the ground and tries to crawl as the device amplifies and quantizes the child’s movements.” So even if they’re a little weak, they get the idea of exploring and having self-determination. There is also an automated learning component.  “Even if the child does not touch the ground, but they make the motions as if they are crawling,” the device will work with them. The kids wear a suit that contains several position sensors so the robot can measure the arm and leg positions and movements on the SIPPC.” This way the automated system can coordinate the robot’s movements with the child’s actions.

Dr. Miller said he’s, “hopeful that this research will, probably in the long term, provide some benefit to these subjects or others with a similar condition.”

Research in Ultra-High Thermal Conductivity

Dr. Jivtesh Garg and his graduate students are exploring a new class of ultra-hard boron-carbide materials such as BC2N and BC5 for ultra-high thermal conductivity values. Their goal is to achieve thermal conductivity values higher than diamond and graphene (> 5000 W/mK).

They are using quantum-mechanical calculations based on density-functional theory to predict thermal transport properties. Simultaneously the group is using laser-based frequency-domain thermoreflectance measurements (FDTR) to experimentally measure these high thermal conductivity values. Ph.D. students Rajmohan Muthaiah, Avinash Nayal, and Roshan Annam are conducting this research.

The group has also developed advanced functionalization schemes to more efficiently couple graphene with polymers for thermal transport applications. Graphene is a wonder material with extraordinary thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties. By efficiently coupling graphene with polymer, a large enhancement in properties can be achieved. Initial experimental results suggest dramatic improvement in the thermal conductivity of polymers such as polyetherimide. Developed functionalization schemes are being applied to a wide range of polymers. Ph.D. students Fatema Tarannum and Swapneel Danayat are involved in this research.

They are further exploring non-equilibrium phonon effects for the design of high-efficiency hot carrier solar cells and thermoelectric materials. Electrons in solar cells thermalize through interactions with lattice vibrations (phonons). By engineering non-equilibrium phonon effects to generate hot phonons, the thermalization of electrons can be inhibited, thereby enhancing solar cell efficiency. Non-equilibrium phonon effects also enhance the efficiency of thermoelectrics by mitigating heat loss through lattice vibrations.  Fundamental first-principles techniques coupled with Monte-Carlo simulations are being used to study non-equilibrium phonon effects.

Through advanced simulations and state-of-the-art experimental measurements, the group aims to develop the next generation of advanced composite materials for thermal management and energy conversion applications and is a world leader in thermal management technologies.

 

Using EEG to Understand Engineering Creativity

Tess Hartog, Md Tanvir Ahad, and Amin Alhashim are working together to explore the uses of electroencephalogram (EEG) to understand neuro-responses as they pertain to creativity in engineering. They are working under Dr. Zahed Siddique; Tess Hartog is an ME MS student with a background in math and psychology, Tanvir is an ME Ph.D. student with a background in EE, and Amin is an ISE Ph.D. student. Megan Marshall was a former fellow who graduated with her MS in AE in the summer of 2020.

The main objective of the research is to study creativity in engineering by gaining a deep understanding of how creative thoughts form and how the brain responds to different levels of creative products.  The students are currently utilizing EEG to capture the neurological behaviors and responses when conducting research.

Graduate Students

Amin’s work focuses on three areas: creativity definitions, creativity models, and the effect of cues on creativity.  Through text analysis techniques, Amin is analyzing a corpus of creativity definitions extracted from literature to understand how creativity is being perceived by engineers and non-engineers.  There are many models for creativity and Amin is working on a classification scheme based on their similarity.  Such classification is important for the advancement of creativity research as evident in the history of sciences. Amin’s last area of focus is on the effect of cues on creative behavior and its relationship with how the brain behaves through the use of EEG.

 

Tess’s work focuses on a subset of EEG recording called event-related potentials (ERPs), which are time-locked neural responses to stimuli. Specifically, she investigates the ERPs (the N400response) of engineers to creative stimuli. Tess is also working on analyzing the EEG recordings of engineers during engineering design-related problems and examining whether exposure to creative stimuli will improve designs. Below are some of her preliminary ERP findings. As indicated in the pictures, she looks for differences in negative wave amplitudes for three types of stimuli around 400 milliseconds post-stimulus presentation (i.e. the N400).

 

Defining creativity is hard but the measurement of creativity is even harder. To capture the multifaceted nature of creativity; more than a hundred measurement techniques have been developed and applied including neurocognitive approaches. The brain’s neural dynamics related to creativity should be accounted to quantify the relationship between the brain regions. During divergent thinking, EEG studies aid temporal dynamics of the neuronal activations underlying cognitive insight. In order to solve real-world problems, creativity is a must for engineers. Engineers’ involvement with creative tasks; activate brain regions corresponding to the task’s demand. Identifying the significant brain temporal regions engaged with the creative tasks for engineers is a crucial question. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) which are based on event-related potentials (ERPs) have the potential ability to estimate a user’s task involvement. Therefore, the question comes: Is the creativity (neural activity) of engineers detected by ERP-Based Brain-Computer Interfaces task-specific? Tanvir’s research work focuses on addressing these questions in the Neurocognitive creativity research domain.

AME Graduate Student Award Winners Announced!

This month, AME announced the graduate students who will be receiving scholarships and fellowships for their hard work during the 2019-2020 school year. Graduate students recognized include:

Marathon Oil Scholarship:

Adam Flenniken

 

John E. Francis Scholarship:

Roshan Annam

Hootan Rahimi

 

Jim and Bee Close Scholarship:

Mohammad Abshirini

Alfredo Becerril Corral

Emmanuel Hakizimana

Anirban Mondal

Mohammad Naghashnejad

Fatema Tarannum

 

Frank Chuck Mechanical Engineering Scholarship:

Parisa Marashizadeh

 

W. Thomas Milam, Sr., Endowed Fellowship:

Tess Hartog

Blake Herren

 

Congratulations to these outstanding students for their achievements!

Colton Ross Selected for the NSF GRF

Graduate Student Colton Ross was selected for the 2020 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Ross is a graduate student in the BBDL studying Mechanical Engineering.

During the program, Ross, “will be working under Dr. Chung-Hao Lee on the development of a multiscale computational model for one of the heart valves – the tricuspid valve.” They hope to gain, “a better understanding of the complex heart valve mechanics, which can eventually help towards patient-specific surgical planning or the refinement of current therapies.” Ross is looking forward to learning new things and sharing his ideas at research symposia or with fellow lab members.

Ross discovered his passion for research by working for course credit under his advisor, Dr. Lee. Ross said, “since then [his] passion has been fueled by the work and the people around [him] that make that work possible.”

“The AME department is full of extremely supportive people who want nothing more than for you to succeed, and they will provide any resources they can to make that possible,” Ross said.

Congratulations on this outstanding achievement, Colton!

AME Graduate Students Create Evaluation App

Sam Jett, a mechanical engineering graduate, and Zach Schuermann, a mechanical engineering and computer engineering graduate created an application for students to evaluate professors and courses. In the video below, Sam Jett gives a tutorial for The Student-Teacher Evaluation Visualization app (STEV) and explains why they decided to create it.

Click here to visit the full STEV web app.

STEV in the News:
OU Daily

 

BBDL Students Give Presentation at Moore Norman Technology Center

On March 14th and April 9th, Dr. Lee and students from the Biomechanics and Biomaterials Design Laboratory (BBDL) provided presentations to the Moore Norman Technology Center (MNTC) pre-engineering students.

These presentations provided the MNTC students with some insight into the regular week-to-week life of a college student, and the learning experiences that the BBDL students had throughout their college careers. They also emphasized how valuable undergraduate engineering is to personal/professional growth and how easily one can get involved. Additionally, the BBDL students talked about their ongoing work in cardiovascular and brain aneurysm biomechanics and how the basic engineering principles span a diverse array of applications.

AME Graduates Featured in The OU Daily for Their New App

Sam Jett (pictured), a mechanical engineering graduate, Zach Schuermann, a mechanical engineering and computer engineering graduate, and Joseph Lovoi, a finance, entrepreneurship and venture management graduate, were featured in the OU Daily for their new app. The app is called STEV (Student-Teacher Evaluation Visualizations), and it’s a new way for students to evaluate their teachers.

Click here to read the full article on the OU Daily Website.

BBDL Students are Named Finalists and Win Student Poster Competition Awards at the Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference (SB3C2019)

Four Biomechanics and Biomaterials Design Laboratory students, representing the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Science and Technology (IBEST) at OU, were named finalists (among top 28 students) for the Student Paper Competition at the 2019 Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference (SB3C). Colton Ross (Undergrad. Senior), Cortland Johns (Undergrad. Junior), Devin Laurence (MS Student), and Samuel Jett (MS Student) competed in the nation-wide competition in Seven Springs, PA on June 26, 2019. The students were selected based on a 2-page abstract submitted in Spring 2019 and provided a 5-minute poster presentation at the conference to a series of Bioengineering faculty members from across the United States.

Devin Laurence and Samuel Jett received First Place and Third Place in the MS-level competition (Solid Mechanics Category) for their recently defended MS Thesis research.

Congratulations to these BBDL Students!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to learn more about the BBDL.

 

AME Represented at Sooner Saturday

Graduate student Cortland Johns represented AME at Sooner Saturday on April 27, 2019. She spoke to future OU students about the School of Aerospace and Mechanical engineering.

Sooner Saturday is a recruiting event for juniors in high school and their parents. Cortland talked to students about her classes, her research in Dr. Lee’s lab, and her internship with MITRE this summer. She also answered questions about the differences between Mechanical and Aerospace engineering, the different competition teams, and how to apply for internships. Additionally, Cortland answered questions for students and parents about college in general, such as ways to be involved and how to manage your time.