Archive for the ‘Progress’ Category

Status Update – 2013/01/25

Happy new year! 2012 has been a crazy year! From the Olympics to my first publication, a lot has happened.

Allen IROS2012 Portugal

Me, Kevin, and Mirko in Portugal

Me in Istanbul

In front of the cloud in Chicago

I met some Turkish Olympians!


  • Design of a variable stiffness flexible manipulator with composite granular jamming and membrane coupling
  • Adaptive grip control on an uncertain object
  • A Variable Stiffness Joint by Granular Jamming

Now, in the new year, there’s a lot to be done. I’ve just turned in my form to become a writing-up student, effectively setting a deadline to complete my PhD in 1 year’s time. It’s the final stretch, so it’s go time!

Status Update – 2012/03/20

It’s been busy!

Since December, I’ve been setting up and performing experiments on my granular jamming work for a variable stiffness manipulator. I had a lot of concepts, some which were new, that I wanted to test out. Of course, as always, things didn’t work out the way I planned. The results were different than what I had anticipated, and even the experimental setup was a different from how I had envisioned it.

Not to mention that I was quite sick for about a month and a half.

All of this hard work was for the IROS 2012 conference. The deadline was March 10, but was extended to March 12, which gave me a bit of breathing room. I was mostly done by the first deadline, but the extra two days gave me some time to reorganize the paper a bit.

At the same time, I was helping two other projects with their experiments. There were moments when I felt that it was all a bit overwhelming, but I managed.

In the end, I submitted 3 papers to the conference. Two as the first author, and the third as seventh author. Hopefully, my main paper on granular jamming will get accepted, though. That would be really good for my phd.

Status Update – 2011/06/09

Lots of things have happened!

First off, I’ve changed projects, again. I am now going to be working on a flexible manipulator for minimally invasive surgeries. My supervisors are now Dr. Prokar Dasgupta, Dr. Thrish Nanayakkara, and Dr. Kaspar Althoefer. They are great mentors to work with, and have helped me a lot so far.

If anyone is keeping track, the original PhD project I was meant to work on was the flexible manipulator project. However, having heard about a humanoid locomotion project, I quickly switched gears, especially since that project looked like it had a lot of good funding. However, some technicalities in the grant thwarted my supervisor from providing me with a scholarship. Then, King’s College London (KCL)’s Guy’s Hospital was able to find a good scholarship to fund my PhD studies here in the UK. Thus, I decided to switch back to the flexible manipulator project.

While I am a little saddened to have to step away from the previous work and progress I had made with the humanoid project, it is hard to be too regretful, as the surgical robot assignment is also a great project to work on. Moreover, this “new” project is a bit easier to handle alone. I felt that the humanoid project needed a bigger team, more than just Dr. Nanayakkara and me. Then again, I guess it doesn’t help that I’ve made that team even smaller now.

At any rate, it’s also good to have financial support from the school, because it gives me the motivation to put in that extra effort.

Next up, on Wednesday, June 8, 2011, I gave a talk about nuclear fusion, moon mining, and space travel at the Sizewell nuclear power station in Suxmundham, UK. It was an enjoyable experience, as my presentation was part of a competition against 5 other finalists. Ultimately, I did not win, but I’ve been told that my presentation was the most interesting. I think I won the unofficial popular vote, but that wasn’t good enough for the judges. Nonetheless, it was a close call, as the other finalists had good talks, as well.

After the presentations, we were shown the nuclear plant’s control room simulator. It was a full scale, exact replica of the real control room, where workers train and rehearse emergency protocols. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed, but I can say that it was a very large rooms with lots of lcd screens, dials, and buttons. They even turned on one of the simulations, and I got to press the big red button to trip the reactor. Then I had to turn 4 red dials to start the coolant flow, or something. It was difficult to pay attention amidst the little flashing lights and polite warning tones.

The competition was hosted by the Nuclear Institute’s Young Generation Network (YGN), and they did take a video of my talk, as well as some professional photographs of all the finalists. I’ll try and post them when those become available.

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