This new conceptualization of soft robots as machines that are
adaptable, multifunctional and safe to operate will create devices
that are capable of complex tasks that are difficult or impossible
to achieve with conventional robots.
To achieve these goals it is necessary to combine research expertise
across extremely diverse fields. Not only must we develop a better
understanding of soft materials, we must also know how to make new
ones. We need to know how to build appropriate structures, actuators
and sensors; how to control movements in high deformation devices;
and how to interface electronics, optics and power solutions into
such non-traditional materials.
The IGERT program integrates four broad
themes (Materials, Controls, Structures and Biocomponents) and 9
academic departments (Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and
Computer Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Chemical
and Biological Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Biology,
Chemistry, Computer Science and Mathematics).
The core IGERT training is embedded within each departmental PhD
program and will involve active research as part of a
Mentoring Team, participation in a week-long Neuromechanics and
Bioengineering Boot Camp, access to
classes and seminars focused on career development
Innovation Challenge workshops in entrepreneurial thinking
and problem-solving approaches designed to foster the translation of
research findings to inventions. IGERT participants will also be eligible to apply for an
IGERT Fellowship and International Research Opportunities.