Karl AbdelnourKarl Abdelnour

Ph.D.(2nd year), Mechanical Engineering

Year in graduate program: 2nd year(September 2009)
Research Topic: Smart Materials and Structures, Underwater Robotics
Partner School: Benjamin Banneker HS
Partner Teacher: Imani Fischer
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Ionic Polymer Metal Composites (IPMCs) are a class of smart materials that have shown promise in the field of underwater robotics due to their low activation voltage, silent operation, and flexibility. IPMCs have been used as underwater propulsors in the robotic swimmers developed at the Dynamical Systems Laboratory (DSL). In such implementations, the IPMCs are powered by battery sources onboard the robots. Under the guidance of Professor Maurizio Porfiri, Karl's research has focused on the development of a wireless powering approach to activate and modulate the behavior of IPMC propulsors. Magnetic resonant coupling between a source and a receiving coil pair is being used to transfer power and a novel power electronics system converts and transmit the power from the electromagnetically coupled coils to the IPMC itself.

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Figure: Proposed design for a wirelessly powered mini-robotic swimmer.

Integration in The Class Room

Karl's research is intrinsically tied to the fields of power electronics and mechatronics. His classroom work largely focuses on bringing a scientific understanding of the principles of robotics and mechatronics to high school students. This theme provides a solid platform for integrating research into the curriculum. Students are being exposed to introductory C programming and basic circuits. These topics offer a foundation for advanced explorations in magnetic induction. In addition to exposing the students to fundamental principles of mechatronics, Karl carries thoughtful conversations regarding technology related to his research and how it continues to evolve today. Homework assignments on electromechanical components for elementary machine design are assigned to the class. To culminate the year's work, the students will be encouraged to design and justify the implementation of a wirelessly powered robotic swimmer.

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Figure: Benjamin Banneker Academy students engaged in programming a robot.

1 - AMPS Fellow; 2 - CBRI Fellow