Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023
    Exploring Robotics in Mechanical Engineering

    Sharmi Shah, a student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (MechE) at MIT, was initially drawn to the field by a photo of students in colorful hardhats running across Killian Court. However, it was her desire to make a positive impact on the world that ultimately inspired her to pursue studies in mechanical engineering and focus on robotics.

    Shah initially had a vague interest in mechanical engineering, but through her studies, she discovered the concrete basis behind her passion. She considered other majors such as pre-medicine and computer science before settling on MechE’s 2-A/6 program. This program allows students to combine core mechanical engineering courses with classes in computer science and electrical engineering, enabling them to tailor their studies to their personal interests.

    One of the concentrations within the 2-A program is Control, Instrumentation, and Robotics (CIR), also known as 2-A/6. Shah chose this concentration and delved deeper into the field of robotics. She took various robotics classes, including Professor Sangbae Kim’s Bio-Inspired Robotics and Professor Russ Tedrake’s Robotic Manipulation and Underactuated Robotics. In these classes, she gained hands-on experience in areas such as control systems, mechanical design, perception, and planning.

    Shah’s interest in robotics deepened, and she worked on a robotic system called PEARL as a 2-A/6 major. PEARL is a large sensing robot that harnesses solar energy to recharge autonomous underwater vehicles and connect to satellite constellations for data transmission. Inspired by her experiences, she decided to pursue graduate studies in MechE and is currently working in Professor Kim’s Biomimetic Robotics Laboratory. Biomimetics, the study of nature to solve complex human problems, is a field that Shah finds particularly fascinating.

    As a graduate student, Shah’s focus is on tactile sensing, a topic she began exploring during her senior project. However, she remains open to the possibilities that may come her way. Shah emphasizes the importance of embracing uncertainty and viewing setbacks as opportunities for growth.

    Outside of her studies, Shah is an active member of the MIT community. She is part of Mirchi, MIT’s nationally-ranked Bollywood fusion dance team, and frequently utilizes makerspaces and the MechE lounge for collaboration and connection. Shah is grateful for the supportive community she has found at MIT and considers her family to be her biggest support system.

    Looking toward the future, Shah is enthusiastic about continuing her journey in robotics and learning more at MIT. She believes that there is always more to discover and is eager to make a meaningful contribution to the field.

    – MechE: Abbreviation for the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT.
    – Robotics: The field of designing, building, and programming robots to perform various tasks.

    Sources: MIT News