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CMR Students Win Big at IDETC 2013

BYU compliant mechanisms research students won first and second place in the Undergraduate Division of the 2013 ASME International Student Mechanisms Design Competition and second place in the graduate student division at this year's ASME-sponsored IDETC conference in Portland, Oregon.

Students Bryce Edmondson, Clayton Grames, and Eric Call won first place in the undergraduate division for their innovative design entitled, "Oriceps -- Origami-Inspired Robotic Forceps," which is a device intended to be used by minimally invasive robotic surgeries and is made from a single sheet, can be made from biocompatible materials and is easily produced. Said upcoming senior Clayton Grames, "it was great to get out there and see the amazing work that other students from across the country had done and we were surprised as anyone when they announced the winners."

Weston Baxter, Jason Lund, Mitch Hortin, Zach Brough, and Joshua Kuhn took second for their 3D-Printed Titanium Compliant Control Valve. The project was done in collaboration with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) to solve an issue with cube satellites. Cube satellites are small (10 cm cube) satellites used mainly for research. Currently, these satellites have long launch lead-times because they are often bumped from launch to launch as weight or other factors become a concern. The team was charged with the redesign of the control valve to improve quality at a fraction of the cost. The valve costs less than 1/10th the original $70,000. It also reduces frictional components and thus, failurem modes. Weston Baxter said that, "the mechanism competition was a great opportunity to represent BYU, the Capstone Program, and the Compliant Mechanisms Research Group."

BYU’s Ezekiel Merriam came in a close second in the graduate competition with his Monolithic Two-Degree-of-Freedom Pointing Mechanism (The Hepta-Flex). First place was taken by a team from Harvard with a mechanism for drilling holes in the skull for brain surgery. The mechanism Ezekiel entered in the contest was a mechanism with applications in spacecraft design. It is 3D printed and moves without friction to allow orientation within a 30 degree cone. Said Merriam about the experience, “It was nice to receive validation and feedback on my work at the conference, and interesting to see the hard work of the other competitors.”

All competitors had to go through two rounds of competition to eventually be selected as winners. Round one was the qualifying round during which all entries were evaluated by a panel of judges chosen from academe and industry. The top five entries in each category were then qualified for round two which took place at the ASME IDETC conference in Portland. At the conference, each team then made an oral presentation and were allotted display space for presentation. Submissions were judged on the basis of creativity, practicality, integrity of analysis and design methodology, and quality of a fabricated prototype and a final report. These CMR students were recognized at the annual Mechanisms and Robotics Luncheon at IDETC 2013 and presented with awards.