Assistant Professor Chinedum Okwudire has been selected as an NSF CAREER awardee. The title and abstract of his proposal are shown below.
Title: “CAREER: Dynamically Adaptive Feed Drive Systems for Smart and Sustainable Manufacturing”
Abstract: “The objective of this Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award is to investigate the introduction of “fast-varying dynamics” into feed drives and its synergistic exploitation as a means to simultaneously achieve high speed, high accuracy and reduced energy consumption/costs in precision manufacturing machines. Feed drives (i.e., motion delivery systems) of manufacturing machines are currently designed conservatively with fixed electromechanical structures, resulting in undesirable compromises among speed, accuracy and energy efficiency. The proposed research imagines feed drives designed like the powertrains of hybrid electric vehicles; it imagines that they are designed to intelligently vary their electromechanical structure in real time to achieve high performance and energy efficiency as a function of the manufacturing operation being performed. The key challenge with these so-called dynamically adaptive feed drives is that they require a design approach for generating the best combined dynamics (i.e., maximizing synergy) under fast switching. No such approach is available in the literature. The intellectual merit of this research is in addressing this knowledge gap thus enabling the benefits of dynamically adaptive systems to be fully exploited. The educational objective is to foster synergistic thinking in engineering education through curriculum development and outreach efforts that contribute to a more diverse and capable workforce. The broader impact of this research is in enabling significant improvements in the energy efficiency of a wide range of manufacturing machines without unduly sacrificing their quality and productivity – similar to the transformative impact of hybrid electric vehicles in the automotive sector. Collaborations with a U.S.-based industrial partner will enable the results of this research to be transferred to industry. The proposed educational plan will develop teaching resources to address the problem of compartmentalized undergraduate education, and pursue an unconventional outreach effort that inspires underrepresented middle school students towards pursuing science/engineering careers by presenting science/engineering careers in the socio-cultural context of the students.”