Several faculty members from MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering were recognized at the recent ASME 2013 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences (IDETC).
Professor Steven Dubowsky, director of the Field and Space Robotics Laboratory, received the Mechanism and Robotics Award in recognition of his cumulative contribution to the field of the dynamic behavior of nonlinear machines, mechanisms and robotic systems.
Professor Dan Frey, co-director of the Singapore-MIT International Design Center, received the Best Paper Award at the International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies. The paper, titled “Conventional and Novel Methods for Estimating an Electric Vehicle’s ‘Distance to Empty,’” was led by recent graduate Dr. Lennon Rodgers (PhD ’13), in conjunction with Frey and Professor Erik Wilhelm, a faculty member at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. The research discussed in Frey’s award-winning paper investigated improved on-board predictions of the “distance to empty.”
Electric vehicles offer substantial promise for improved efficiency and reduced emissions, but that potential is muted in today’s marketplace by a consumer fear that they will run out of energy before reaching a place to refuel. To calm those fears, Frey’s team proposes a prediction algorithm based on multivariate regression over variables such as ambient temperature, road conditions, and current traffic on the selected route to alert drivers to an accurate refueling timeframe. To train the algorithm, the team constructed stochastic simulations of routes using data sets from government and industry. The resulting predictions have a much lower chance of error than those algorithms currently used in electric vehicles.
Associate Professor Maria Yang received the "Best Paper Award" at the Design Theory and Methodology Conference for the paper titled “The Influence of Timing in Exploratory Prototyping and Other Activities in Design Projects.” Yang and her research group explore the question of whether there is a relationship between the quality of a design and when/how long teams engage in key design activities, such as brainstorming, evaluating ideas, and fabricating prototypes of those ideas. They demonstrate correlations between several tasks but in particular show that the building of physical prototypes early on in the process seems to play a crucial role in future design success.