Brian Slaboch received the 2019-2020 Research Infrastructure Program faculty award from the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) to support his project, “Reconfigurable Space Mechanisms for Mission Critical Applications.”

“It is an honor to be a recipient of the 2019-20 Research Infrastructure Program award from the WSGC. I feel very excited to have the opportunity to work with MSOE undergraduates on this important research project,” said Slaboch, assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Slaboch’s project focuses on enhancing reconfigurable space mechanisms which are used for a variety of tasks on a successful mission, such as grasping objects or closing a space shuttle’s external tank doors. NASA engineers have optimized space mechanisms for a variety of applications using conventional approaches, but they still have inherent challenges such as high mass/weight, large size/volume, and high-power consumption. Slaboch’s project works to overcome those challenges.

“This project will introduce reconfigurable space mechanisms as a promising approach to dramatically increase their performance through reduced weight, fewer points of mechanical and electrical failure, lower power consumption, and the ability to perform complex motions in a constrained environment.”

Along with Slaboch, two undergraduate research assistants will assist in all aspects of the research starting in the Fall 2020 term. Students will gain hands-on experience designing, prototyping and testing reconfigurable space mechanisms.

To kick off the project, the team will establish the Reconfigurable Mechanisms Research group. Through this group, the principal investigator (PI) and MSOE undergraduate researchers will set out with the goal to create new reconfigurable mechanisms theory and apply this theory to practical mechanisms in the space industry.

The group’s second goal is to generate mathematical theory and corresponding mechanism design software for engineers to automatically create reconfigurable space mechanisms based on a desired output motion. Their third goal is to create two prototype reconfigurable space mechanisms that will support future collaboration and funding efforts for the Reconfigurable Mechanisms Research group.

The $10,000 grant will help Slaboch and his team achieve these goals. The award provides financial support for both faculty and students working on the project. Funds will be used to pay for materials and supplies, salaries and travel to the annual Wisconsin Space Conference.

“This award provides motivation for faculty and students to produce cutting-edge research that can have a real-world impact in the space industry,” said Slaboch.

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Assistant Professor

Dr. Brian Slaboch

Department: Mechanical Engineering
(414) 277-7258 Allen Bradley Hall of Science: S112B