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McGinnis and Hough win ASME Best Paper Award



Ryan McGinnis and Jessandra Hough, both PhD students of ME Professor Noel Perkins, have been awarded the ASME’s Bioengineering Division’s Best Paper Award for 2013.  ASME’s organization brings engineers from various disciplines together, but grants awards based on specialized areas of interest. This award specifically applies to the Biomedical and Biotechnology Engineering Track: “Dynamics and Control in Biomechanical Systems.”

The Computers and Information Division’s Executive Committee chooses winners each year, according to the originality of the project, applicability, and problem difficulty, among other characteristics listed by ASME. 

This past November, McGinnis and Hough presented a paper entitled “Benchmarking the Accuracy of Inertial Measurement Units for Estimating Joint Reactions” at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition held in San Diego, California. The article, which will be published in the ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics, is separated into two units. “Estimating Kinetic Energy” is the first section, while “Estimating Joint Reactions” is the second.

The research was performed, almost entirely, in Perkin’s lab on campus and contributes to both students’ PhD dissertations. The first unit of research, which measures the accuracy of kinetic energy estimates from inertial measurement data, will be included in Hough’s dissertation. Her work involves creating an IMU-based method that can be used to monitor the energetics of human movement. McGinnis focuses more on the second unit of research, which will be included as a chapter in his own dissertation.

The team was scheduled to present this research and share it with the engineering community during the last day of the conference.

“The members of the audience had some interesting questions on both the results of the study as well as future applications for the work,” McGinnis said.

The project involves inverse dynamic modeling, which is an application of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). MEMS measure linear acceleration and angular velocity to assess the dynamics of human motion. The inverse dynamic modeling technique allows the researchers to subsequently measure the kinematics of modeled body segments to ultimately estimate the loading on the joints.

McGinnis explained that the final goal was to measure and prove the accuracy of this method.

“It strongly points to the future use of wireless IMU arrays for estimating the reactions at the major skeletal joints of the body,” McGinnis said.

This is not the first time that Hough, McGinnis, and Perkins have worked together on sports-related engineering projects. In the past, the trio collaborated on an article published by Sports Engineering that had similar applications involving inertial measurement units. “A New Technology for Resolving the Dynamics of a Swinging Bat” explains how a portable inertial measurement unit  (IMU) can create a three-dimensional image of bat’s movement, allowing both coaches and players to better understand the dynamics behind America’s favorite pastime.

The team has continued to work together in developing new projects on similar topics in engineering. A version of their current paper is under review by the ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics. An abstract is accessible at  In the future, Hough, McGinnis, and Perkins will turn their focus to a project, which is still in its early stages, conducted alongside the U.S. Army.

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