Biomimetic Robotics Lab

Olin College was 2 years old when I arrived my freshman year. The professors had just started to get into a groove, and were starting to branch out into research and extracurricular activities. Early on, I connected with Professor Gill Pratt, who was looking to collect a few students into an undergraduate research laboratory; since Olin has no graduate students, all research is done by undergraduates. I worked with him to found and run the Biomimetic Robotics Lab, a space specifically focused on creating robots inspired by biological models, from 2005 to 2009.

The first project to come out of the Biomimetic Robotics Lab was the Olin Snake Robot, which investigated the use of flexible elements in the mechanical structure of a robot. This technology would later be incorporated into the Olin Robot Tuna, in addition to a number of other lab projects.

At its peak, the lab had 6-7 teams of students working on a variety of biologically-inspired robots. These included a jumping frog, force-controlled fingers and hands, flexible skeletons, a small biped, several robot simulations, and a number of other projects. Most robots were designed with rapid prototyping tools in mind, as they allowed the projects to be completed in individual semesters. I served as a lab manager and worked with Professor Pratt to implement weekly design reviews, keep the lab stocked with consumables, handle ordering for projects, and help students through the paperwork for independent research projects.