“Only those that risk going too far can possibly know how far they can go,” said UCSI’s Faculty of Engineering and Built Technology Year 4 student Haider Mohammed Abdullah Haider. And how far has he gone?
He and his brother Abdulsalam Mohammed Abdullah Haidar, also an Engineering student at UCSI, were selected to go to Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT) Japan from November 2019 till January 2020 for research attachments, on the topic of ‘Artificial Muscles’. Apart from immersing themselves in their respective projects, they were happy to learn about Japanese culture and both had a memorable experience.
The two brothers are from Yemen and although they are close to one another, both have slightly different interests in the engineering field. Haider’s interest is primarily in Electrical and Electronics Engineering while Abdulsalam’s interest is more towards Mechanical Engineering. While the main topics of their research were the same, they focused on differing aspects within the field.
Haider, 27, was involved in research and experiments on artificial muscles and soft robotics. According to articles on the subject, artificial muscles, also known as muscle-like actuators, are materials or devices that mimic natural muscles and can change their stiffness due to external stimuli (such as voltage, current, pressure, or temperature) that reversibly contract, expand, or rotate within a component.
Research indicates that three basic drive responses (shrink, expand, and rotate) can be combined together in a single component to produce other types of motion (for example, bending, expanding one side by shrinking one side of the material).
It has been noted that the topic of artificial muscles is still new today but artificial muscle technology has a wide range of potential applications in biomimetic machines including robots, industrial actuators and powered exoskeletons.
Further studies on the subject also revealed that Electromechanically Active Polymer (EAP) based artificial muscles are lightweight, low power, flexible and agile, and can be used for movement and manipulation. Future EAP devices will be used in aerospace, automotive industry, medicine, robotics, articulation mechanisms, entertainment, animation, toys, clothing, haptic and tactile interfaces, noise control, sensors, generators and smart structures.
“I managed to create new material composites that increased the performance, the mechanical characteristics and the conductive characteristics of the artificial muscles. I also successfully managed to come up with a fabrication (mostly to do with manufacturing) process that reduced the fabrication time by 60%,” he added.
Abdulsalam, 25, studied the behaviour of PDMS (a type of pure silicon) under high voltage which is useful in making soft actuators for soft robotics. In a nutshell, actuators are mechanical devices that convert energy into motion.
It has been shown that soft actuators are highly programmable and can perform complex movements while soft robotics opens up a wide range of possibilities in the future like making artificial muscles.
According to Abdulsalam, his research made use of the ‘tensile test’, a widely used test in Engineering in which materials are subjected to tension until they break down to know their stress and strain.
“The subjects taught in UCSI that were of help to me when participating in this research were Stress Analysis and Mechanical Engineering Design. Additionally, in Japan, I got the opportunity to use state-of-the-art machines such as the SEM 3D Scanning electron microscope as well as learn Advanced 3D Printing,” he added.
“As for me, I had the chance to apply what I have learnt at UCSI in terms of electromagnetic theory, which helped me a lot in my work at SIT,” said Haider.
“I would like to thank Professor Hiroyuki Ishizaki and Associate Professor Shingo Maeda from SIT. I am also extremely grateful to UCSI’s Faculty of Engineering, Technology and Built Environment dean Assistant Professor Ts Dr Ang Chun Kit, deputy dean Assistant Professor Ts Dr Lim Wei Hong, and Electrical and Electronic Engineering head of department Farah Adilah Jamaludin as well as Fatina Najwa (formerly from UCSI’s Global Engagement Office),” he remarked.
For both students, the experience abroad was not one which would have come by easily. They both noted that these attachments would improve their CVs considerably and that they were more experienced engineers after going to Japan.