Maxwell Hammond

Maxwell Hammond, PhD student, mechanical engineering

Develops octopus-inspired robotics

“Max has consistently amazed me with his boundless creativity and insatiable thirst for knowledge.”-Venanzio Cichella, assistant professor

Indianapolis, Indiana

Faculty mentor/advisor:
Venanzio Cichella, PhD, assistant professor, mechanical engineering, College of Engineering

What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date?
Mechanical engineering PhD program. Anticipated graduation December 2024.

Please describe your research:
My research is focused on developing paths and planning algorithms and controllers for robotic systems made from soft materials. Soft robots can operate safely in environments where conventional robotics cannot reach, but they pose significant modeling challenges which greatly affect our ability to implement them. I seek to develop a robust control framework which can overcome these challenges and enable more extensive use of these systems.

In simple terms, why does this research matter?
Soft robotic devices already see use in a number of important fields from invasive surgery to ocean and space exploration. Their further development is important to advance current use cases and expand the breadth of their impact. In this broad field, my role is to develop novel and safe approaches to control these systems and allow them to complete complex tasks.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?
I started research as a master’s student after graduating with my BS in Mechanical Engineering (from the University of Iowa).

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa?
Research at the University of Iowa has connected me with a network of supportive peers who are passionate about their work. With their help, I have significantly broadened my understanding of my field and I have participated in a number of interesting research efforts.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to work for a research institution or national lab. I would like to stay close to the field of robotics.

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