Shape-Changing Soft Transformers Wins Innovative Design Simulation Challenge
A team of three juniors from the Department of Mechanical Engineering won the Best Overall Simulation award in the commercial software category in the ASME Innovative Design Simulation Challenge (IDSC) this year. Organized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the annual competition attracts outstanding mechanical engineering students from elite universities around the world.
Chih-Yu Chen (陳咨羽; team leader), Hung-Chen Yu (游弘晟), and Chien-Yen Hsu (徐阡晏) traveled with their faculty advisor Prof. Jia-Yang Juang (莊嘉揚) to Charlotte, North Carolina in the United States to join the other finalists in presenting their entries before a panel of judges on August 21. The NTU team claimed the competition's top award for their simulation "Soft Transformers: A Versatile Platform for Extreme Shape Transformation."
Relying on design methodology and advanced computer simulations, the Soft Transformers simulation investigated the possibility of producing major shape changes by warping a simple flat two-dimensional design into a complicated three-dimensional structure. The students also developed their own platform to verify their simulation.
The team's design simulation method and platform has potential applications for manufacturing intricate three-dimensional objects. Moreover, this type of concept can serve in the development of "soft robots" that use the transformation of soft materials to achieve movement. This would enable designers to avoid the complicated metal structures and joints of traditional robots.
Of the three competition categories at the IDSC this year, the commercial software category drew the most entries and witnessed the most heated competition. 12 finalist teams were selected by a panel of judges from entries submitted online in the preliminary round.
During the final round in Charlotte, each team was required to present their design concepts and results and respond to queries from the judges entirely in English. The NTU students demonstrated courage and team spirit as they discussed the ideas, innovations, and theory that went into their project on a major international stage.
This article was originally featured in NTU Highlights (October 2016).