Origami design methods project receives $2 million NSF grant

August 31, 2012

A $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation has been awarded to Mary Frecker, professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State, to develop methods to design active origami structures to be used for applications in minimally invasive surgery, adaptive aircraft structures, reconfigurable robots and deployable space structures.

"Multi-field Responsive Origami Structures - Advancing the Emerging Frontier of Active Compliant Mechanisms," will be led by Frecker along with co-principal investigators Timothy Simpson and Zoubeida Ounaies, both of Penn State's College of Engineering, Rowan University's Paris von Lockette, George Mason University's Jyh-Ming Lien, and Rebecca Strzelec, visual arts professor at Penn State Altoona.

The team will work to develop methods to design origami structures that actively fold and unfold in response to multiple fields. These methods, along with the use of predictive multi-scale modeling and multi-physics simulations, will guide the development of new active materials. Modeling, design and active materials efforts will be integrated in a design optimization framework.

The four-year project will integrate a summer student exchange program and multi-university capstone design projects among students from Penn State, Rowan University and George Mason University. The research will also be used to create interactive installments and workshops targeted toward K-12 students at the Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania and Penn State's Palmer Museum of Art.

This grant is part of NSF's Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation initiative, which focuses on important emerging areas in engineering. One of these areas is Origami Design for Integration of Self-assembling Systems for Engineering Innovation.
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Penn State

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