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Precision Systems Design Lab Wins First Place in ASME Mechanism Design Competition



Shorya Awtar (left), Tristan Trutna (right)

A team of current and former ME graduate students from the Precision Systems Design Lab have won the first place in the Student Mechanism Design Competition (Graduate Level), for their project FlexDex, at the 34th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, which was part of the ASME’s International Design and Engineering Technical Conferences 2010, located in Montreal Quebec.

The competition is an excellent opportunity for both undergraduate and graduate students to showcase their research and abilities. It is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Mathworks, Dynalloy Incorporated and DS Solidworks.

The year’s winning team, led by Tristan Trutna and supervised by Shorya Awtar, also comprised former students Jens Nielsen, Rosa Abani, and Andrew Mansfield. Shorya Awtar is an Assistant Professor in the department of Mechanical Engineering, and directs the Precision Systems Design Lab (PSDL). The research focus of PSDL is on the design of novel machines, mechanisms, and instruments for a variety of applications including nanopositioning systems, medical devices, MEMS devices, and kinetic energy harvesting.

FlexDex is a Minimally Invasive Surgery technology platform that aims to provide enhanced dexterity, intuitive control, greater precision and natural force feedback via a low-cost laparoscopic tool. This technology was developed via a collaboration between the PSDL and Dr. James D. Geiger, Professor of Surgery and Executive Director of the Medical Innovation Center at the University of Michigan. Before winning the competition the invention was also selected by the U-M Technology Transfer Office (TTO) as one of the six most promising invention disclosures filed with the TTO in 2008. The tool allows doctors to perform minimally invasive surgery (MIS) through a few small incisions in the patient’s body, which leads to a marked decrease in trauma, blood-loss, scarring, post-operative pain and complications, along with lower healthcare costs and faster recovery. Traditional tools lack the proper dexterity for the complex maneuvers required in MIS while robotic tools provide exceptional dexterity but lack the force feedback required for surgery and are exorbitantly expensive.

Faculty featured in this story