Schneider Rocks Robotics

By Emily Mamula '15

One of the areas most often associated with engineering,
especially by those outside of this world, is robotics. Continuing my series on
student research products, I spoke with a student heavily involved in this
area.

Eric Schneider '15 is majoring in Engineering with a
concentration in Robotics (known around campus E:Robo, whose students are
RoboE's). Like all Olin students, he's heavily involved in activities outside
of academics as well, including the Powerchords, Olin's oldest
acapella group (who also placed 3rd in this year's Northeast ICCA
Quarterfinals!); the Olin Fire
Arts Club
; and Sailbot, Olin's
autonomous sailboat racing team (featured previously in an
earlier blog post
).

Eric_Powerchords.jpg

Eric, front and
center, performs with the Powerchords.

 

Eric spent last semester working on robotics research with Dave
Barrett
, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Design here at Olin. Along
with Helen Wang '14, they are working to develop small robotic tunas referred
to as "microtunas." These are essentially autonomous fish that are being
designed in order to strive for the greatest biomimicry possible. The group is attempting
to do so by developing the system to point parts that can be switched out in
the main design, allowing for future optimization. Eric and Helen have been
working on the design and construction of the tail subsystem, trying to build
several different tails. From here, the team will continue to work on different
parts and eventually bring together an entire system.

Here is a brief clip of one of the tails that Eric and his
team are working on:

 

I also took the time to ask Eric what he thinks makes
research at Olin special. One of the first things he mentioned was how easy the
process of getting started was; he simply approached Dave and asked what
projects he had going and if there was any room for another student. Once
started, he said the research system itself is great because it allows a large
amount of independence for students within their projects.  It also gives undergrads an opportunity to
get their hands on a project they'd never get to experience if grad students
were around. Yet he was quick to clarify that he by no means feels expected to
produce graduate-level work, but that he had a lot of fun just trying to do
so. 

This summer Eric is continuing his work in Robotics as an
intern at Barrett Technologies in Cambridge, MA, and he is very excited to be
studying abroad in China this fall.  And
after Olin? Eric says he plans to go on to grad school, but may work for a
while before he does so.

Posted in: Fun @ Olin, Research