/ Engineering Department


Hope students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty members, striving to answer novel research questions in a variety of engineering fields.

Materials for Energy

A gloved hand working with glowing vials of different colorsSemiconductor materials underpin the technologies all around us and play a key part in many sustainable energy-related technologies. The Christians research lab uses interdisciplinary methods to understand and improve semiconductor materials for energy applications, especially as photovoltaic (solar cell) absorbers. You can learn more about the research and how you can join the group at christianslab.com.

Biomechanics of Manual Patient-Handling Tasks

OpenSim biomechanical model squatting as if to lift a patientManual patient-handling tasks have been associated with low back and shoulder/neck injuries in caregivers. Dr. Odle and her students seek to understand how caregivers and patients interact during these tasks and how the forces generated during their interactions affect the low back and shoulders. This interdisciplinary project combines experimental and computational biomechanical modeling techniques.

Impact-Loaded Structures

Simulation of a metal plate responding to a projectileDr. Veldman’s research seeks to understand how thin-walled metallic structures respond to high impact loading. Finite element analyses are first used to predict the response of a clamped structure to a projectile impact. Then these results are validated through direct comparison with laboratory experiments.

Nerve Stimulation for Phantom Limb Pain

Left: A anatomical model of the arm, showing the median nerve.  Right: A circuit schematic showing the ion channels of a sensory neuronDr. Polasek and her students are working toward designing a non-invasive, home-based therapy for treating phantom limb pain using electrical stimulation. In particular, better methods to activate nerves from the surface of the skin are being developed. Computer models are used to make initial predictions of effective electrode locations that are then tested on people with and without amputated limbs.

Responsive Material Systems

Computer simulation of a light responsive archPhotomechanical materials are specialized materials that convert light energy to mechanical work. Dr. Smith’s research group works on developing photomechanical materials that can be easily shaped or printed into engineered device components. This interdisciplinary project combines optical and mechanical testing, computer simulation and chemical synthesis.

Tetrahedral Walker Robotics Technology

Tetrahedral walking robot and model
Dr. Abrahantes and his students focus on developing a robotic system that can easily travel over rough terrain.  The robot design is based on shape-changing geometry with trusses that lengthen and shorten, thus allowing it to move through a tumbling motion. To enable fluid movement, this project focuses on intensive computational modeling and development of control strategies for the robot and pairs this with experimental validation.

Structural Monitoring of Civil Infrastructure

Sensor that records vibrations and can be used to monitor the health of bridges and other civil infastructure.Civil infrastructure is highly exposed to the environment and also can be subject to degradation due to normal everyday use. Dr. Peckens’ research team seeks to understand how these loads impact such structures over extended periods of time. Wireless sensor nodes are developed in the laboratory and used to monitor structures for fatigue and degradation. Data collected from the monitoring is analyzed for trends and insight into the system behavior.

Physical Property Modeling from Equations of State

In chemical process design, engineers need general methods for predicting physical properties of various substances as both liquids and vapors. Chemical engineers commonly use cubic equations of state such as Soave-Redlich-Kwong and Peng-Robinson. Dr. Misovich's research team uses common equations of state to predict vapor-liquid phase equilibrium or Pressure-Volume-Temperature behavior and apply mathematical methods to generate data for physical properties from these equations.