Getting robots to use sensors to read each other's body language could help us learn how you might program flying vehicles or mobile robots to do the right thing.
Students in Professor John Baillieul’s (ME) Intelligent Mechatronics Lab know all the right moves – they’re programming robots to dance the salsa in an attempt to give machines the ability to respond to their environment and create a more agile automaton someday.
The researchers began by mapping the coordinates of actual salsa dancers and programming the robots with four basic beginner moves. The robots, which are outfitted with motion sensors, read each other’s moves and respond according to the programming.
Baillieul’s ultimate goal for the project moves way past the dance floor: He wants to understand human reaction to gestures and how machines may replicate them. That could enable robots to team with, and perhaps take over from, humans in dangerous jobs, from treacherous rescues to repairs in hazardous environments.
What Is Mechanical Engineering?
To be a mechanical engineer, you need to be a bit of a know-it-all. Mechanical engineering is one of the largest and broadest engineering disciplines, encompassing the development of all types of mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers are experts in thermodynamics, heat transfer, structures and materials, fluid dynamics and advanced control systems. They use their knowledge to improve many aspects of our lives. In health care, they contribute to new surgical tools, imaging systems and prosthetic devices. In security, they design sensors that detect chemical threats and monitor the structural soundness of buildings and bridges. Mechanical engineers also help design and manufacture the computers, cell phones, microwave ovens, refrigerators, air conditioners and other devices that improve the quality of daily life.
Where Do Mechanical Engineers Work?
Our graduates take diverse career paths, gaining employment in a wide range of industries and in government. Engineers with bachelor’s degrees often work as members of a design team, as technical support or in quality control, while those with advanced degrees often move directly into lead design or research positions.
What our alumni are designing for their employers:
- Full-scale biomedical devices
- Noise-cancellation technology for sound systems
- Parachutes used to drop combat supplies
- Simulation systems for auto manufacturers
- Components for naval vessels, aircraft engines, and wind turbines
Graduate Programs & Research Opportunities
Graduate students and faculty in Mechanical Engineering study and conduct research in a wide range of applied and basic areas in this fundamental engineering discipline, often working in interdisciplinary teams to address important engineering challenges. Graduate students join faculty weekly in a seminar series to network and learn from distinguished visitors. All students are assigned a faculty advisor who mentors them throughout their academic careers, and emerge ready for leadership in industry, government and academia. A few areas of research strength include:
- Acoustics And Vibrations
- Biomechanics and Biological Physics
- Computational Science and Engineering
- Dynamics, Robotics, Systems, and Controls
- Thermofluid Sciences, Energy and Sustainability
- MEMS and Nanosciences
Where Do Our Alumni Work?
- Con Edison
- General Electric
- Proctor & Gamble
Common alternatives to immediately taking a job in industry:
- Earning an advanced engineering degree
- Pursuing an MBA
- Joining the military
- Attending law or medical school
Why Study At BU?
Our Mechanical Engineering Department is a great size for fostering a real sense of community—and for getting personal attention from our distinguished faculty members. The undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1, and our graduate students enjoy working in research groups of just three to six people. We offer access to state-of-the-art study and research facilities, and our graduates have a high placement rate in lucrative jobs and competitive graduate programs.
What Does BU Offer?
- Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a Range of Options for Concentrations and Minors
- Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering
- Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
- Doctor or Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering
- Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Visit the Department of Mechanical Engineering website for more information.
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