Dr. Georges Fadel’s Spring 2014 sabbatical at EPFL in Lausanne Switzerland

May 15, 2014


EPFL, Ecole polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, one of two federal universities in Switzerland focusing on engineering and science.

I am teaching a doctoral class on design methods and am working with students and faculty on several interesting projects. I am also helping two junior faculty decide on what to include in a design curriculum at the EPFL

One project focuses on the design of an exoskeleton for a rat. The project aims at restoring voluntary control of locomotion in rats with paralyzing lesions on the spinal cord. The mix of an electrochemical neuroprosthesis and intensive training on a treadmill is believed to promote translesional plasticity on the spinal cord and ultimately recovery. I am helping students develop the exoskeleton using design methods, and we are writing a paper together describing this process.

Another project focuses on the design of a micro Rankine cycle for energy recovery, with the turbine turning at 270 000 rpm. In here, issues of packaging, bearings and sealing are being studied by the research group. I will assist mostly in the packaging approach.

A third project consists in designing a solar fuel cell, and the faculty here investigated the use of porous media to enhance the efficiency of the cell. I am collaborating with her and her students to push the design further by optimizing the porosity distribution of the media to enhance energy capture, its transmission to the fluid to promote the chemical reaction, and not hinder the flow of that fluid. Here also we hope to have a paper.

The last project is to consider developing a machine tool control for additive manufacturing equipment using the STEP-NC standard. This also should result in a paper.

Furthermore, I am still in contact with most of my students in Clemson by Skype. We are also writing a number of papers, and moving the research forward. I have also been very active in the board of management of the design society, participating in its annual Rigi planning meeting in Berlin and in its monthly meetings. I attended the Jubileum (50 year anniversary) of the design chair in Stuttgart, and then joined my colleagues Drs. Mocko, Summers, Vahidi and ICAR colleagues at BMW to showcase accomplishments. I was invited to INP Grenoble to present our work on affordance based design and multi-material design. I was also invited by UTBM (Universite de technologie Belfort Montbeliard) in France to present our work on multi- and meta-material design optimization. I was invited to the ETH Zurich Rollout event where they showcase their students’ capstone designs with a competition between 90 teams, and I will present a talk there on multi-material design. Finally, I will participate in the IDMME/Virtual Concept conferences in Toulouse France, hosted by INSA and Dassault.

I have had therefore a very rich set of experiences, and hope to initiate some new research directions upon my return in August.

Georges Fadel